It has taken time, but society is finally embracing the therapeutic benefits of CBD. And over that time of increasing acceptance, we are also learning how to create different forms of CBD. Nowadays, the terms “full spectrum,” “broad spectrum,” “isolate,” and “nano” are terms to describe different forms of CBD. But do we really know what each of these mean and what they can do for us?
If you didn’t know, or were misinformed, rest assured that at the end of this article you will be well-versed in CBD lingo, particularly as it refers to different forms of CBD. Bear with us as we start with the very basics of CBD, just to ensure we all begin with the same foundation of information and facts.
As a compound of the plant, cannabis sativa, CBD has been part of human history for 14,000 years at the very least. As the human race evolved into a civilized species and learned the rudiments of agriculture, cannabis sativa was right there as one of the first plants to enjoy cultivation. Before the advent of science and the scientific naming of plants and other species, humans appreciated the healing and psychotropic properties of this plant, using it as food, for textiles, medical relief, and, yes, for pleasure and relaxation.
As agriculture and cultivation became more sophisticated, hemp was developed. The major difference between cannabis and hemp is the absence of THC. Legally now, any cannabis plant which contains less than 0.3% THC content is called hemp. However, the CBD content of cannabis as hemp is not at all affected, meaning that the medicinal properties of CBD could be accessed without the concern of THC affecting the consumer. So while hemp was originally an excellent fiber to create ropes and other fabrics and textiles, the presence of THC made hemp even more valuable and beneficial to humankind.
The other compound of cannabis sativa, THC, produced more noticeable effects than CBD, particularly as it affected the mind and process of thinking. While many enjoyed this sensation, and still do today, some restrictive leaders in 20th-century American politics overreacted to its presence and use; we are still, in the early part of this 21st century, working to undo the damage that false information and punitive policies played in demonizing cannabis.
Rather ironically, it was in the midst of the 20th-century American paranoia about cannabis when CBD was discovered. The first compound of cannabis to be discovered was cannabinol (CBN) in the 1930s. In 1940, Dr. Roger Adams discovered the compound cannabidiol (CBD) and just two years later, scientists figured out how to extract THC from cannabis.
By the 1950s, quite a few pharmacological experiments were being performed using various cannabinoids. During these early studies, the psychotropic properties of THC were clearly identified, but even more important was the fact that CBN was determined to have a very low potency as a psychotropic agent and CBD was found to completely lack any psychotropic properties. For this reason alone, CBD quickly rose to the forefront of experimentation and testing, as scientists could prove that humans would not be mentally or intellectually affected through its use.
The Four Basic Forms of CBD
Fast-forward to our modern times in 2020, and we discover that scientists have made fantastic and exciting advances in the use and application of CBD for health purposes. As part of this progress, new forms of processing CBD came into being: as of today, you will find four major forms of CBD, which we shall now examine closer…
Full Spectrum CBD
With full spectrum CBD, you can “have it all,” as this form of CBD contains all the cannabinoids found in the plant from which it is extracted. This includes THC, but when purchasing full spectrum CBD oils or tinctures processed from hemp, the amount of THC included in full spectrum CBD would never exceed 0.3%. This is such a nominal amount of THC it cannot make a person high or affect their rational or thinking processes.
A lot of manufacturers prefer full spectrum CBD products because of the “entourage effect” it can produce. An entourage effect refers to the combination of phytocannabinoids (THC and CBD are just two of the more than 120 phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant) and how they positively impact the human endocannabinoid system by working together synergistically.
On top of these extras, full spectrum CBD also grabs terpenes and flavonoids from the plant for even more benefits and effects. Terpenes are the molecules responsible for producing the unique aroma profiles for fruits, vegetables, spices, and other plant life. Flavonoids are polynutrients found in most fruits and vegetables and, in concert with carotenoids, creates the color effects for each fruit and vegetable.
Some users prefer full spectrum, seeing it as a holistic process which retains and uses all the compounds of the plant, putting them to good use in the human body. Do keep in mind that full spectrum CBD extracted from a normal cannabis sativa plant would very likely have a higher THC content than 0.3%; in fact, some full spectrum CBD could have equal parts of CBD and THC. This means that care should be taken when selecting full spectrum CBD to make sure you know if any THC is included and how much.
Full Spectrum CBD Pros and Cons
Why might people choose full spectrum CBD? The following reasons are commonly voiced when people explain their choice of full spectrum CBD products:
- Entourage Effect – full spectrum CBD will give you the most balanced and naturally-occurring combination of phytocannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis
- Least Processed CBD – because everything is extracted in one process, the CBD component is only processed once
- Terpene and Flavonoids – users also benefit from the inclusion of the natural terpenes and flavonoids found in the extracted plant
Then again, there are strong reasons for avoiding full spectrum CBD, including:
- Drug Screens – even trace amounts of THC can appear on drug screening tests, which could mean losing a job, apartment, or freedom
- Hemp Flavoring – the natural aroma and flavor of hemp can be strong for most people, and overwhelming for a sensitive few
- Local Laws – some states have prohibitive laws which do not allow the presence of any THC content
As you can see, it may not even be a personal preference, but legal issues which may influence your choice of CBD products.
Broad Spectrum CBD
Many experts consider broad spectrum CBD to be just a minor step down the ladder from full spectrum CBD. This is by virtue of the fact that the same process is used as in full spectrum CBD, except that one more step is taken: all THC is removed after the compounds have been extracted from the plant. This is ideal for those concerned about ingesting any amount of THC into their system, while still taking advantage of the almost complete entourage effect which the full spectrum form delivers.
Again, the possibility of getting “high” is completely removed from broad spectrum CBD, which means there is never a worry that trace amounts of THC might be found in broad spectrum CBD. This “safety feature” perhaps may be the reason broad spectrum CBD products remain in strong demand. Since terpenes and flavonoids are normally included in the extraction process, consider broad spectrum CBD as a full spectrum “light” CBD.
Broad Spectrum CBD Pros and Cons
What features attract users to broad spectrum CBD? Consider the following benefits of broad spectrum CBD products:
- Entourage Effect – comes as close as you can to the entourage effect you get without including THC in the mix
- Legal – no matter how restrictive a jurisdiction in which you live, no THC means completely legal
- No Psychotropics – for individuals worried about being affected by THC, even trace amounts, this eases any concerns
The reasons people do not use broad spectrum CBD more often includes:
- Hemp Flavoring – as with full spectrum CBD, the strong presence of hemp flavoring may deter some users
- Limited Benefits – proponents of full spectrum CBD swear by the extra benefits the miniscule amount of THC can deliver
- Newer – not as much research has been performed concerning broad spectrum and its full benefits
Fortunately for those living in areas which disallows any THC content in CBD product, broad spectrum is an excellent and viable alternative.
As the term indicates, isolate CBD utilizes a process in which only the CBD is separated from the other compounds found in cannabis and hemp. It is made purely of cannabidiol and excludes all other compounds hemp or cannabis produces, including terpenes, flavonoids, and every other phytocannabinoid.
Through the magic and miracles of science, hemp plants can be engineered to control the amount of CBD and THC they will produce. During the harvesting stage, the extraction process isolates all the plant matter from the CBD. What remains is not oil, but a pure white crystalline powder – 99% pure CBD. (By the way, you can buy pure CBD in powder or crystal form at Hemptotally – and learn more about the company and their CBD products through our reviews: THC-Free Organic Balm and Vegan CBD Gummies.)
Isolate CBD Pros and Cons
Why do people like isolate CBD? Call them purists if you will but also think about these reasons for using isolate CBD products:
- Concentration – if you want pure CBD then you want isolate CBD
- Drug Test – nothing adverse can ever appear with any drug test you take
- Legal – you can order it online and isolate CBD products are increasingly found in regular retail outlets, such as quick stops at gas stations
- Non-Psychotropic – it is literally impossible to feel any kind of high from isolate CBD
- Odorless/Flavorless – you never need worry about strange or nasty tastes or smells, making it easy to mix with your own favorite flavors
- Safety – the purity of isolate CBD makes it a safe haven for those worried about bad reactions (no side effects!)
- Versatile – easy to add to just about anything, great for pets, and even for topical treatments
The only objection anyone has against using isolate CBD exclusively is the loss of the entourage effect. It’s not uncommon for most CBD enthusiasts to use a combination of either full or broad spectrum CBD products in tandem with certain isolate CBD items.
As the long list of isolate CBD benefits shows, this is a very popular form of CBD which offers tons of options with no legal concerns or restrictions. You will continue to find more businesses devoting more shelf space to isolate CBD product lines for those very reasons above.
The newest entrant on the CBD market is nano CBD. Similar to nanotechnology, this involves the world of the very small: the size of nanometers, to be precise, nanometers being a mere billionth of a meter (0.000000001 meter).
What it all comes down to is improved absorption of CBD into the human body. Manufacturers of nano CBD claim (naturally) that it can absorb as much as four times more CBD into the system. For example, it is posited that with 10 mg of normal CBD, only 2 mg is absorbed into cells, but by using nano CBD this jumps to 8 mg, the majority of CBD consumed.
Other companies are using nanotechnology to increase the water-solubility properties of CBD, a fat-soluble compound. This makes CBD-infused beverages the fast-growing segment in the CBD marketplace. CBD Emporium (whose full spectrum CBD oil is our currently top-scored product in our reviews) offers a “nano-powered” CBD-enhanced water drink using a broad spectrum CBD. Expect to see more CBD products claiming nanotechnology processes and techniques to keep popping up everywhere.
In simple fact, any of the three other forms of CBD – full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate – can and will use nanotechnology to create new CBD products. Being familiar with the term and its true meaning will give you a clue something is fishy when it’s thrown around improperly.
Nano CBD Pros and Cons
For now, this is what we see as the benefits of nano CBD:
- Effectiveness – improved absorption of CBD means more effective treatments
- New – everyone loves getting in on the latest technology, even CBD
The reasons people are not yet embracing nano CBD:
- Accessibility – as this is a new technology, only a few manufacturers are committing to this new process, making it hard to find
- Limited Knowledge – to date, great claims are being made but more independent studies are needed to prove its suggested efficacy
- Marketing Gimmick – companies can lay claim to nanotechnology without documented proof, just to boost interest and sales (buyer beware!)
In all, nano CBD shows much promise but savvy CBD consumers should perform due diligence when considering CBD products with a “nano” name or label attached to it.
So there you have it… CBD in its various and marvelous forms. As you learned, some forms of CBD are easier to get than others (because of the presence of that pesky THC compound), but no matter where you live, you can and should take advantage of the many benefits of CBD.