Defining Refinements: Full-Spectrum vs Broad-Spectrum CBD

by PP Health Admin / Aug 31, 2021

One of the significant aspects of the CBD market is that there is so much choice - from flavour to chemistry and type. However, this can also be confusing, especially if you’re new to the world of CBD. The difference between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil is one of the many questions surrounding CBD products.

Choosing a suitable hemp extract for your preferences can be a difficult decision, especially when there are so many options available. In this text, we will cover the three main types of CBD oil: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate. Each variety has unique pros and cons in terms of chemistry. In short, the difference lies in the presence (or absence) of the other compounds that are found naturally within the hemp plant.

What is CBD?

Cannabinol, also known as CBD, is a natural cannabis compound (or cannabinoid, if you want to be scientifically accurate). CBD extract comes from the flowers, leaves and stalks of hemp, a variation of the cannabis plant. There are over 100 distinct cannabinoids present in hemp, making CBD and THC some of the most researched ones.

Interestingly, hemp plants may have various possible wellbeing benefits, and almost all of the plant may be used to supplement a holistic lifestyle. Hemp seed oil is one of the other cannabis-based products on the market; however, it's common for newcomers to mistake it for CBD. Hemp seed oil derives from the omega-rich seeds of hemp plants, rather than the leaves and flowers. Although cannabidiol and hemp seed oil may both have the potential to offer diverse plant compounds, their possible side effects may be different.

Hemp vs Cannabis

The most well-known strains of cannabis plants are hemp and "marijuana". "Marijuana" has high levels of the intoxicating compound THC, giving cannabis its broader reputation. In contrast, the hemp subspecies is ideal for CBD oil as it naturally contains minimal amounts of THC and larger amounts of CBD molecules. Manufacturers use the flowers, leaves and stalks of hemp plants to make CBD extract.

How Does CBD Oil Potentially Function?

When you ingest cannabinol, it might potentially affect receptors in the endocannabinoid system (a complex cell-signalling system in your body), which might influence some of your natural biological processes. This complex network is responsible for controlling memory, stress management, immune response, pain perception, cognitive performance and mood regulation, to name a few. In addition, the ECS seems to play an essential role in the immune and digestive systems. Unlike other cannabinoids, such as CBG, some research suggests that CBD may possibly affect these areas indirectly by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. Via the ECS, CBD may have the potential ability to impact sleep quality, affect your immune response, and even influence some symptoms of pain.

What are the Possible Benefits of CBD Oil?

The potential benefits of CBD seem to span far and wide. Here, we evaluate some of the properties that full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD may be able to offer.

CBD May Influence Some Symptoms of Acne: Acne is a common skin condition that affects approximately 95% of people aged 11-30. It can often be triggered by a change in hormones which causes the sebaceous glands to produce more oil (sebum) than necessary. These sebaceous glands are attached to each hair follicle, and their role is to hydrate the hair and skin. However, when the glands produce excess oil, it mixes with dead skin cells and clogs the pores - causing spots and lesions. In recent years, emerging research has suggested that CBD may purportedly impact some symptoms of acne. Firstly, one intriguing study researched how CBD might affect the oil-producing glands. The researchers indicated that CBD might potentially inhibit sebum production and influence some signs of inflammation in the pores. In short, CBD might just be worth experimenting with as part of your daily skin routine. Whatsmore, as cannabinol may possibly affect some symptoms of inflammation, this could mean CBD potentially impacts some skin discomforts - for example, signs of redness, swelling, pain symptoms, and itching associated with acne lesions. Finally, ongoing research shows how stress may trigger acne flare-ups. According to popular anecdotes, CBD may even affect how you approach symptoms of stress, which could possibly have an indirect impact on your skin.

Some People Use CBD to Supplement Their Fitness Routine: If you’re an avid gym-goer or athlete, you’ll know the frustration that can come from the pain of working out. After an intense training session, some people may experience delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS); this happens when your body is trying to recover through processes that involve painful inflammation around the muscles. However, if you train often, your body may inflame the muscles too much and cause further damage. Topical and oral CBD products may potentially influence some signs of excess inflammation. In a 2008 study, researchers suggested that CBD might have helped pain symptom management in individuals with chronic pain. This research indicates that CBD may possibly affect the natural recovery of your muscles - perhaps even helping to reduce your downtime in between training sessions.


A woman practicing self-care with infused skincare, CBD oil and a relaxing candle

CBD Might Impact Some Signs of Anxiety and Depression: Mood disorders like anxiety and depression seem to be increasing year on year. With the pressure to work long hours, balance a social life and manage your wellbeing, it can all seem overwhelming. Here, CBD may potentially help to supplement some symptoms of anxiety and depression. A 2021 study reviewed the possible feel-good capabilities of CBD; however, it is unknown how it may help to impact feelings of depression. Further to this, scientists have released new research that contemplates whether future CBD-inspired approaches may one day prove relevant to social anxiety disorder (SAD) and other mental illnesses such as ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.

CBD May Impact Your Sleep: We all know through experience that a lack of sleep can impact our mood, cognitive functioning and ability to focus. A number of things may contribute to a lack of sleep, including anxiety, stress, and racing thoughts. Research shows that our cortisol levels (the hormone associated with stress) typically peak in the morning, but people with insomnia tend to experience a peak at night. Interestingly, one study indicated that cortisol levels might possibly be affected by CBD consumption, suggesting that CBD oil may have the potential to influence some signs of insomnia.

Is CBD Legal?

Yes - for hemp farming to be legal, farmers must grow hemp plants that contain less than 0.2% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). There are strict regulations on how CBD can be sold in the UK to make sure that CBD> products won’t cause any intoxicating effects. However, some brands are less reputable than others, so it’s always best to choose a company that can provide you with a Certificate of Analysis (COA) to confirm the chemistry of their products.

Will CBD Oil Cause a High?

Cannabidiol based products only contain a maximum of 0.2% THC (the potentially intoxicating chemical compound). However, as this is not an excessive amount, CBD oil shouldn’t cause a ‘high’. Unlike THC, regulation-compliant CBD is non-psychoactive and legal in the UK.

Full-Spectrum vs Broad-Spectrum CBD: Choosing the Best CBD for You

CBD comes in many different forms, and unfortunately, not all are created equal. In this section, we will break down the differences between full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate. Whatsmore, we will highlight the key things to look out for when choosing the right CBD for you and your preferences.

CBD oil being dropped into a beverage using a glass dropper

Full-Spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD oil does what it says on the tin; it uses the full spectrum of cannabinoids and other potentially helpful substances that hemp offers. Traditionally, full-spectrum hemp oils have THC in them; however, UK CBD brands will remove any excess amounts of THC to produce the final premium product, such as our Superb Boost CBD.

Full-spectrum CBD oil is the most unfiltered and natural hemp extract available. Consequently, if a cannabidiol extract uses the entire botanical range of the plant, it will contain all of the phytochemicals naturally found in hemp, including cannabinoids (like CBD), terpenes, and flavonoids.

Cannabinoids: Natural chemicals (like CBD and THC) which may possibly interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid receptors.

Terpenes: Organic hydrocarbons that give cannabis plants their smell and may bring some potentially beneficial properties to the CBD oil.

Flavonoids: An extensive collection of chemical compounds responsible for the colour variety of fruits, vegetables and plants. These give cannabis its dark green tone and distinctive flavour and may offer some potential antioxidant properties.

The remarkable thing about full-spectrum CBD oil is that these added terpenes and flavonoids mean that it is bursting with plant-based potential.

Terpenes play an essential role in nature by creating the sweet smell of citrus fruit and the aroma of our favourite herbs. In plants, some terpenes will attract pollinators while others will repel predators such as insects. In CBD, however, terpenes may potentially help to reduce some symptoms of anxiety. The terpenes beta-caryophyllene gives black pepper its unique and potent smell. When ingested with CBD oil, this terpene may interact with CB2 receptors, suggesting it may offer some potentially beneficial properties that could affect some signs of inflammation.

Anecdotal evidence from a 2020 study shows that beta-caryophyllene may potentially impact addictive behaviour in mice. Whatsmore, in April 2020, a study looked at limonene, a terpene that is often put in foods, perfumes and cleaning products to create a lemon aroma. Researchers found that limonene may possibly reduce symptoms of anxiety. As terpenes are bioactive, they have the potential to interact with the body. Due to their unique scents, they are often used in essential oils and form an integral part of some holistic approaches to wellbeing, like aromatherapy. Inhaling certain smells may potentially reduce stress symptoms and elevate mood - making aromatic compounds an exciting component of full-spectrum CBD oil.

In addition, it seems that hemp produces around 20 flavonoids; these phytonutrients possibly give CBD oil its dark green colour. Like terpenes, flavonoids are present in many everyday foods such as berries, celery, watercress, red wine, and dark chocolate. Some studies suggest that flavonoids may have the potential to influence symptoms of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

Full-Spectrum CBD and The Entourage Effect

The "entourage effect" refers to the chemical synergy that may be achieved when all components in cannabis are consumed together to impact the potential benefits of hemp. The theory says that each compound may interact with the others to influence their properties. Therefore, the combination of cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes can potentially create a more desirable product. Using the full range of compounds in hemp may result in the entourage effect.

Some people believe that the natural compounds within hemp may work better together rather than in isolation - this is the entourage effect. These possibilities may apply to full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oils. In a 2011 review, participants took phytocannabinoids and terpenes together. This review suggested that the combination of natural compounds may have potentially affected some symptoms of pain, inflammation and anxiety. Further to this, in 2018, one study found that full-spectrum extract may have impacted participants’ self-perceived comfort levels significantly more than isolated THC and a placebo. These findings show the potential promise of the entourage effect and how the combination of flavonoids, terpenes and cannabinoids found in nature may work better together.

Although it isn’t clear how the entourage effect works, the multitude of cannabinoids (such as CBG, CBD and CBN) may potentially influence the properties of the other compounds. The capabilities of phytocannabinoids are continually being investigated as researchers learn more about cannabis.

Here at PP Health, we use full-spectrum CBD extract to create our premium cannabidiol products. We utilise as much of the plant as we can to deliver the full potential of hemp.

Full-spectrum CBD may be best for:

  • People who want to try the full-plant extract
  • Those who are interested in consuming CBG oil (as full-spectrum oil will contain similar properties and some CBG molecules).

Broad-Spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum oil because it contains flavonoids, terpenes and cannabinoids. However, broad-spectrum CBD oil does not contain any THC. While broad-spectrum CBD may possibly feature the entourage effect, some extraction processes hinder the oil quality and therefore decrease the potential for the entourage effect to take place. When the substance is heated to remove the full extent of THC molecules, some of the nutrients may be lost. Therefore, broad-spectrum cannabidiol may not contain full-plant extract.

This CBD is a popular option amongst CBD users because your body should still have access to many cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes, without ingesting any THC.

Broad-spectrum CBD may be best for:

  • CBD beginners who are hesitant to consume any THC
  • Those who participate in drug testing
  • People who experience sensitivity to THC

Woman holding a full-spectrum CBD gummy up to her mouth

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is arguably the most processed form of CBD available, as it only uses a single cannabinoid from hemp.

The downside of CBD isolate is that it doesn’t utilise the other potentially beneficial compounds and botanical substances found in hemp. Therefore, there is no chance of experiencing the entourage effect because the flavonoids and terpenes do not contribute to the formula. However, CBD isolate may be a good option for people who are subject to mandatory drug tests - for example, professional athletes.

CBD Isolate is generally best for:

  • CBD beginners who are hesitant to consume THC or any other hemp ingredients
  • Anyone who participates in workplace drug tests
  • People who experience sensitivity to THC
  • People who only want to consume CBD

Will Full-Spectrum and Broad-Spectrum CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

Full-spectrum CBD is non-psychoactive, and it shouldn’t show up on a traditional drug test; however, the possibility of a positive result cannot be entirely ruled out. A positive drug test would be due to the trace amounts of THC in full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD (albeit it’s not enough to cause a high). The possibility for a false positive may be more likely if you consume a high dose of CBD daily.

How to Shop for CBD

Shopping for CBD can be daunting, especially if you’re unsure what you’re looking for. Below we have outlined our advice and top tips for choosing a reputable brand and premium quality CBD.

Tip#1: Choose the Right CBD for You

Deciding between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate is an essential first step to purchasing cannabinol. As we have outlined in this article, full-spectrum CBD utilises all the cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes in hemp plants. If you’re looking to explore any of the potential benefits of hemp products, this is a good option for you. Although full-spectrum oil will not cause a high, broad-spectrum CBD extract has zero THC in the product. Finally, if you’re searching for pure CBD oil, CBD isolate is the highest concentration and the most refined oil available on the market. Unfortunately, it doesn’t contain other flavonoids and terpenes, so its prospects for the entourage effect are slim.

Tip#2: Natural Products are Essential

When you’re looking for a reputable CBD brand, we advise choosing one that is transparent about its growing and extraction processes. For example, at PP health, we grow our hemp plants in a safe greenhouse in Switzerland, and our organic plantation is free from pesticides and herbicides. We chose to use a premium extraction process called CO2 extraction because it doesn’t use heat or solvents. This extraction process ensures heat-sensitive enzymes and vitamins are not lost through the heating process. Choosing a reputable CBD brand is vital as there can be a lack of regulation in the CBD industry. Selecting a high-quality product is also vital for your safety and confidence as a consumer. In all, the more a brand shares about their manufacturing and growing standards, the better.

Tip#3: Expect Lab Tests

Third-party testing is an integral part of choosing the right full-spectrum CBD oil for you. Having laboratory tests for cannabidiol shows that the brand values transparency and safety. The lab reports will highlight how much THC is present in the infused product, and the findings are often summarised in official certificates. The UK regulations state that there cannot be more than 0.2% THC concentrations in legal CBD products - which is not enough to cause a high. Tests can also assure you of the general safety profile associated with your chosen product so that you can focus on the most exciting thing: developing your natural wellness routine!

Final Thoughts

Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil have their own unique potential benefits. As we’ve explored, full-spectrum contains the full-plant extract and may possibly be the best chance to explore the possibilities of the entourage effect. Comparatively, broad-spectrum CBD should hold similar potential - minus the THC. However, it can be challenging to maintain the natural properties of full-plant extract when removing the THC because of the harsh heating processes that are involved. For this reason, if you’re in the market for a high-quality, full-plant extract, full-spectrum CBD oil is the best choice if you want to explore the possible benefits of hemp.

We hope this article has helped you to understand the main differences between CBD extracts. If you love botanical supplements as much as we do, there are plenty more opportunities to learn right here on our website!