Written by: Dr. Jonny Lisano, Ph.D.
Maybe you’re new to the world of hemp-derived CBD products. Or, perhaps you’ve been using hemp products for years. Regardless of your experience, sometimes it can be confusing and overwhelming when you’re faced with all the options and terminology surrounding these products and their ingredients. I mean, is there really a difference between products labeled as isolate, broad, or full-spectrum? In short, yes there is a difference. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what those differences are.
Hemp extracts contain a variety of different active ingredients. These active ingredients are often broken up into different groups based upon their chemical properties. Don’t worry, we won’t be diving into any chemistry today, but we will be discussing the two most well-known chemical groups within hemp, cannabinoids and terpenes. Both cannabinoids and terpenes are produced within hair-like structures on the flowers of the hemp plant known as trichomes. Both cannabinoids and terpenes have been observed to exhibit active chemical properties.
I’m sure that even if you haven’t used hemp products before you’ve probably heard the term cannabinoid being used. But what are cannabinoids really? Well, for starters, the cannabinoids found in hemp are fairly similar in structure to compounds naturally produced within our body called endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids interact with various receptors expressed by cells in almost every tissue of the body. Because the cannabinoids in hemp have a similar structure to our endocannabinoids they too can interact with these receptors giving them the ability to alter how these cells and tissues function.
To date, more than 100 distinct cannabinoids have been identified within the hemp plant. However, the two cannabinoids that receive the most attention are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). As outlined by the 2018 Farm Bill, within the United States THC is not legally allowed to be in abundance of more than 0.3% within hemp. Making CBD the most prevalent and thus, the most active cannabinoid in hemp products. While CBD may receive the majority of the attention in the media there are often other cannabinoids present in hemp products as well. Other lesser-known cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, and CBC can also interact with cells within your body and play a key role in what is known as the “entourage effect” which we will touch on a little later.
In terms of concentration, terpenes are far less abundant than cannabinoids. While you may not have heard of them by name before today, you might actually recognize these compounds better with your nose than any of your other senses as they often emit a strong aroma. This class of compounds is large and diverse and isn’t even exclusive to hemp or cannabis. Terpenes are also found in hops, various fruits, and spices just to name a few. Yet, these compounds are more than just a nasal sensation. Similar to cannabinoids they too can react with cells throughout your body to produce physiological effects. Interestingly enough, research has observed that cannabinoids like CBD can even produce more pronounced effects when administered with terpenes rather than on its own.
Types of Hemp Extracts
Now that you know a little more about the cannabinoids and terpenes in hemp let’s discuss how the presence of these ingredients dictates how these products are labeled and marketed as either isolate, broad, or full-spectrum.
What is Isolate?
It might seem fairly intuitive that a hemp-derived product labeled as “CBD isolate” contains only one ingredient, CBD. Well, your intuition would be right! A product labeled as CBD isolate should contain only CBD. It won’t have any other cannabinoids or any terpenes it will strictly contain only CBD. These products are great for anyone searching for a THC free product or if you’re looking to add an extra CBD boost to any other hemp products you might be consuming.
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*Pro-tip: Even if a product is labeled as a “CBD isolate” we always recommend to check the products accompanying certificate of analysis for verification.
What is Broad-Spectrum?
Unlike Isolate products, broad-spectrum products contain all the active ingredients found in hemp except one, THC. The THC has been removed leaving all of the other cannabinoids and the terpenes in. While broad-spectrum products might be popular due to their lack of THC, the subtraction of this key ingredient means you’ll be losing out on what is known in the industry as the “entourage effect”.
*Pro-tip: Like with isolate products, always check the accompanying certificate of analysis to ensure that a third party lab has verified that there is no THC present.
What is Full-Spectrum?
If a product is labeled as full-spectrum this means that it contains all of the cannabinoids and terpenes. We’ve noticed that experienced consumers tend to gravitate towards full-spectrum products, but why is that? Well, the reason they often choose these products over others is to take full advantage of what is known as the “entourage effect”.
So, what is the “entourage effect”?
Well, the entourage effect comes from the concept of multiple components working better together as a team rather than individually. As eluded to throughout this article every cannabinoid and terpene is slightly different. Each having a distinct chemical structure. This means that each active compound has a unique way with which it interacts with cells in the body. Together, all these compounds come together to produce a synergistic effect by activating several different signaling pathways in cells. Like we said earlier, CBD has actually been observed to have greater effects when administered with terpenes rather than on its own. Think of the entourage of a celebrity. It is made of multiple people, an agent, publicists, security, etc. Each of those individuals performs a unique task that not only benefits the celebrity but the group as a whole. Using this example, CBD would be the celebrity and the entourage would be all of the other cannabinoids and terpenes. They work better as a group than individually. It’s this “entourage effect” that causes full-spectrum hemp products to be some of the most sought after.
Best Selling 6 Degrees Wellness Full Spectrum Product: 600mg CBD Tincture
You may or may not have already known that CBD isn’t the only active component in hemp products. After reading this article you now know how to tell based on the label of a product what active compounds should be in that product. Armed with this knowledge you can now confidently decide what type of hemp extract is right for you, and that is what truly matters!
As always, we highly recommend checking a product’s third-party certificate of analysis before purchasing it. If you aren’t sure how to interpret the certificate you can always reach out to us for help (even if it isn’t a 6 Degrees Wellness product). Our experts are always here for you. Just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Disclaimer: Part of our mission is to always present the latest cannabinoid research; however, none of this is intended to represent the safety or efficacy of our products. These statements and our products have not been evaluated by the FDA, and our products are not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any disease. You should consult your physician or other health care professional before taking CBD to determine if it is right for your needs.