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Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum vs. Isolate — Which Is Right for You?

by Deb Powers


Broad spectrum, full spectrum, CBD isolate — these are terms you’ll encounter as you search for the best CBD products to support your overall health and wellness. These are more than just industry buzz words. They tell you about how the cannabinoids were extracted from the original plant and how much of the original plant profile is in the finished product. Knowing the difference between full spectrum versus broad spectrum versus CBD isolate can help you decide which CBD products will best support your particular needs and goals.

Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum vs. Isolate — What They Mean

There are three major types of CBD extracts — full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate. While CBD — cannabidiol — is the best known, the hemp plant actually contains more than 100 different cannabinoids, as well as other plant-based chemicals, called phytochemicals. The difference between the three types of CBD starts with the extraction process.

CBD Extraction Process

In order to get the CBD into a form that can be used in other products, the plant has to go through an extraction process to break down the plant material, pulling out the various cannabinoids and phytochemicals. A simple way to understand extraction is to think of making a cup of tea — you soak dried leaves in water, which dissolves some of the bonds and releases the flavors into the water. The CBD extraction process is more complicated, but operates on the same basic principle — the raw cannabis plant goes through a series of processes that strip the chemicals from the vegetative materials and separate them into various elements, which can then be combined and refined to come up with a finished CBD extract or oil. The result is one of three types of CBD extract:

  • Full spectrum extracts include all the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other phytochemicals in the same proportions as found in the original plant. Full spectrum products generally include THC, up to the legal limit.
  • Broad spectrum extracts are similar, but have been processed to remove any THC remaining after the extraction process.
  • CBD isolate is pure cannabidiol in crystalline form. It has no other cannabinoids or phytochemicals in it.

Full Spectrum CBD

Full spectrum CBD offers the full benefits of all the constituents of cannabis, including, as noted, THC. The amount of THC, however, is very low — below .3%, as required by law. That means it is very unlikely you would “get high” using full spectrum CBD. There is not enough concentration to be intoxicating. In addition, there’s evidence that CBD modulates the effects of THC, reducing possible undesirable side effects and enhancing the beneficial effects. It’s important to note that even small amounts of THC may build up in your system over time, and show up in drug testing. This can be a consideration if, for example, you’re subject to random drug testing. 

Full spectrum CBD extract also retains the many other cannabinoids and phytochemicals present in the cannabis plant. They include the following:

  • CBN (cannabinol), which may help support healthy sleep and reduce achy joints and muscle discomforts
  • CBG (cannabigerol), which may also help with general discomforts, especially in conjunction with CBD
  • Terpenes, such as limonene and pinene, which have beneficial effects on occasional stress

Broad Spectrum CBD

Like full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum extract retains the cannabinoid and terpene profile of the original plant, with one exception: It has been further processed to remove all traces of THC. This can be important for people who are especially sensitive to its intoxicating effects or who want no exposure to THC at all. It may also be a good choice for topical uses, such as balms and creams.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate, often called “pure CBD,” is exactly that — nothing but cannabidiol. It has none of the other cannabinoids, terpenes or other phytochemicals found in the original plant. Because of this, it doesn’t offer any of the benefits associated with other cannabinoids, or that may be enhanced by their presence. 

Broad Spectrum vs. Full Spectrum — Why It Matters

The various cannabinoids interact with your endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate many bodily processes. Researchers believe that cannabinoids and other phytochemicals may work synergistically together in a process called the entourage effect. Essentially, the reasoning behind the entourage effect is that the combination of two or more cannabinoids or phytochemicals may have an effect that neither of them has on its own.


While the research on full spectrum versus broad spectrum CBD is still emerging, another recent study reviewed full spectrum hemp oil with relatively low levels of THC improved mechanical pressure pain in an animal model. There is also research suggesting that the various terpenes and flavonoids, which give cannabis strains their distinctive flavors and aromas, may also bring along associated health benefits. In short, a growing body of research supports the existence of the entourage effect, and the possible benefits of full spectrum CBD and broad spectrum CBD products that should be further explored. 

The Bottom Line

The way that your body interacts with cannabinoids is dependent on your endocannabinoid system, and on its unique needs. Choosing the right CBD products to support your wellness will depend on your circumstances and your needs. For that reason, KOR Medical offers personalized support to help you choose the products that fit your needs and lifestyle.  

All of our products are manufactured in FDA-registered facilities, and are verified by third-party labs so that you can be sure that you’re getting exactly what’s on the label. Our CBD product offerings include KOR Relief, a topical cream with CBD and CBG for targeting discomforts and sore muscles,, as well as KOR Sleep Strips and Sublingual Spray Calm sublingual spray to promote balance, and Health sublingual spray for immune support.

All KOR products reflect the high-quality standards developed through years of research, science, patient experience and customer service. Learn more about how KOR can help support your wellness with our personalized guidance to help you choose the best products for your needs.

Deb Powers is a freelance writer who has been writing about cannabis and related wellness topics for nearly 20 years. Her work has appeared on Civilized.Life and numerous industry websites and publications.