Full-spectrum CBD vs. CBD Isolate, which is better?


Full-spectrum cannabis extracts possess a plethora of cannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, terpenes and other biological compounds that result in a more predictable dose-dependent response over pure cannabidiol (CBD) isolates. Although CBD isolates (pure 99% CBD) can provide much benefit, the added effects of full spectrum is mainly produced by the synergistic actions of multiple compounds found in full-spectrum CBD, which ultimately causes an increase in bioavailability within the body, which enables consumers to essentially get more bang for their buck.

Today, CBD products on market shelves often do not disclose that this phenomenon between full-spectrum and isolates have been exposed in research models. These models have compared the anti-inflammatory and nociceptive properties of the two and have found higher efficacy in full-spectrum over isolates. In addition, clinical trials examining the impact of CBD on public speaking induced anxiety and stress have demonstrated the dose-response differences from smaller doses of full-spectrum vs. isolated CBD. Full-spectrum CBD is seemingly more impactful, which would indicate that full-spectrum can give an increased potency and added benefit over isolates with similar or even smaller dosages. It is great to start with a small dose and ultimately up the dose until the patient or consumer feels an acceptable level of benefits while avoiding a negative response or none at all (which could be more likely with an isolate). However, due to the varied physiological responses in humans, medical practitioners are often dealt with a wide range of responses to a wide range of doses, yet without adverse effects (Gallily et al., 2015, Zuardi et al., 2017). This would also support previous toxicology reports that have yet to be conclusive on toxic levels of CBD ingestion.


It would seem more vigilant for a consumer to purchase full spectrum products over isolates, although the issue still remains that full spectrum CBD products can contain up to 0.3% THC, among other cannabinoids such as THCa, CBG, CBN and CBC, which also contribute to increased potency and bioavailability. This could create an issue if an individual is trying to be conscious of how much CBD they are consuming exactly. However, research has explained that the amount of THC that can potentially be consumed in full spectrum is negligible due to the low percentage (less than 0.3%) and the dose that would be ingested. This could make it much easier for consumers to understand the ability to consume very small doses and receive added benefit of a full spectrum versus an isolated form.


Ruth Gallily R, Yekhtin Z, Hanuš LO. Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of CBD by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in CBD. Pharmacology & Pharmacy, Vol.6 No.2, 2015.

Zuardi AW, Rodrigues NP, Silva AL, et al. Inverted U-shaped dose-response curve of the anxiolytic effect of cannabidiol during public speaking in real life. Front Pharmacol2017;