The cannabis world is full of new terminology that can sometimes be confusing. The two worlds of cannabis and technology have merged together to create an enormous variety of different cannabis products. From this spawned the creation of full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate (or single cannabinoid) cannabis products.
These terms are just a hierarchy of cannabinoid profiles, where full-spectrum contains the whole cannabinoid profile, broad-spectrum contains some of it, and isolates contain just a single cannabinoid. It’s worth noting here that distillates are either broad-spectrum or full-spectrum. The word “distillate” simply refers to an extraction method, and not the final phytochemical profile.
Any given cannabis specimen contains up to 400 different chemical entities. Up to 60 of those could be cannabinoids. The spectrum here represents how many of these cannabinoids and compounds are represented.
Maybe you’re wondering what the difference is between taking an isolated cannabinoid and a full-spectrum cannabis product. That’s the question we plan to answer in this article so that by the time you’re done reading, choosing will be kind of like choosing between full-cream, skinny, and soy.
The pros & cons of full-spectrum cannabis.
Full-spectrum cannabis, like its name suggests, is a cannabis product that contains the full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids. A full-spectrum cannabis product is created using extraction techniques that preserve the complete chemical profile of the plant as it existed on the day it was extracted.
It’s the full monty of cannabis products.
The most important advantage of full-spectrum cannabis products is the fact that it can employ the full potential of the entourage effect. This is the effect caused by the synergistic activity of all the compounds in cannabis. It’s thought that through the entourage effect, the therapeutic potential of all compounds in cannabis (including cannabinoids and terpenoids) is amplified.
Given that full-spectrum cannabis products contain all cannabinoids and aromatic compounds, they retain the taste of cannabis. Full-spectrum extracts and edibles made with them retain the taste of the original plant specimen.
Choose full-spectrum cannabis products if…
- You want the entourage effect in your life
- You’re okay with using THC, even in small amounts
- You don’t mind the taste of cannabis
Those who can’t use THC for legal reasons (such as getting drug tested for work) might not be able to safely use full-spectrum products. Even full-spectrum cannabis products made out of hemp contain small amounts of THC by the very nature of the fact that they’re full-spectrum.
Those who simply want to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC can use a full-spectrum CBD. Full-spectrum CBD products are usually made out of hemp which contains very small amounts of THC. These small amounts are negligible when it comes to psychoactive effect.
Don’t choose full-spectrum if…
- You don’t want to use THC at all
- You can’t palate the taste of cannabis
From the pantry.
If you’re curious to try some full-spectrum cannabis products, we recommend the 500mg CBD Tincture by Faded Cannabis Co. This hemp-derived tincture contains the full-spectrum so you can feel all the benefits of cannabis. Because this is a hemp-derived tincture, it contains only negligible amounts of THC and won’t have any psychoactive effects.
The pros & cons of broad-spectrum cannabis.
Broad-spectrum cannabis is the next step down the ladder from full-spectrum cannabis. Instead of containing the entire chemical profile, it contains most of it?
So what does that mean?
Well, depending on the manufacturer, what they’re making, and why they’re making it, they may remove a single cannabinoid from the extract. For example, a broad-spectrum CBD product is created by first, creating a full-spectrum extract, and second, using fractional distillation to remove THC from that extract.
This leaves a final product that has all of the cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids intact bar THC.
It’s unlikely that broad-spectrum ever happens in reverse. It’s unlikely for a manufacturer to create a broad-spectrum THC product. As CBD is non-psychoactive and has a good track record for being good for you, it’s not typically removed from a THC product.
However, broad-spectrum is also used when terpenes are re-added to an extract. For example, THC may be distilled and extracted to its pure form and used to create a vape juice. For the vape itself to have the taste of cannabis and the therapeutic effects of terpenes, the terpenes are re-added. This creates something like a pseudo-broad-spectrum effect.
As with full-spectrum products, because broad-spectrum cannabis products retain the flavonoids and terpenoids, these extracts also retain the taste of cannabis.
The advantage of using a broad-spectrum product is that you can avoid THC entirely without compromising the rest of the valuable compounds in the extract. For all intents and purposes, you get most of the entourage effect, but without the consequences of THC, whatever they may be for you.
Choose broad-spectrum cannabis products if…
- You don’t want THC in your life at all (choose broad-spectrum CBD)
- You don’t mind the taste of cannabis (choose broad-spectrum CBD or broad-spectrum THC)
The con of broad-spectrum products is that they aren’t really the entourage effect. WIthout one of cannabis’ major cannabinoids (if not the major cannabinoid), it’s not reality the entourage effect. It’s most of it, but missing an important link. Some might also find broad-spectrum products a disadvantage because they lack psychoactive effects — but that’s all about preferences.
Don’t choose broad-spectrum cannabis products if…
- You want the psychoactive effects of cannabis (don’t choose broad-spectrum CBD)
- You want to feel the entourage effect in all of its greatness
- You can’t palate the taste of cannabis
The pros & cons of isolate cannabis products.
Finally, we have isolate cannabis products such as THC isolate and CBD isolate. These come last on the hierarchy of cannabinoid profiles. As the name suggests, isolates contain a single cannabinoid compound only.
THC isolate and CBD isolate look more or less the same — a white, crystalline substance. There are no flavonoids, terpenoids, or other minor cannabinoids present. They are essentially pure cannabinoid extracts. Note that they don’t have a taste because there are no terpenoids or flavonoids.
Isolates have an interesting position in the world of cannabis. There are massive advantages to this feat of technology, and many of them are also enjoyed by the pharmaceutical cannabis industry. For the consumer, isolated cannabinoids have few uses. They can be used in DIY cannabis products such as cannabis topicals or CBD vape juice. They can be consumed directly, but dosing is much harder than with full-spectrum or broad-spectrum products.
The pharmaceutical cannabis can benefit greatly from cannabinoid isolates. For the purpose of clinical testing and clinical use, cannabis products must have very specific, very accurate cannabinoid ratios. This can only be consistently ensured using cannabinoid isolates.
Commercially, isolates are used by cannabis product manufacturers to make vape juices, topical products, edibles, and tinctures. This is where things get interesting, because product manufacturers can create new and interesting cannabinoid ratios with isolates. Or they can make single-cannabinoid products for consumers to use.
For the consumer, isolated cannabinoids have the advantage of being a no surprise kind of thing. The experience is consistent every single time as there is less variation what constitutes full-spectrum between strains and cannabis varieties. The effects can be very targeted and therefore very user friendly.
When we talk about choosing an isolate product, we don’t necessarily mean choosing the powdery crystalline substance. We mean choosing a cannabis product that’s made with isolate cannabinoids.
Choose isolate cannabinoid products if…
- You don’t like the taste of cannabis
- You know that you want to use one cannabinoid and have no interest in the rest
- You don’t need the entourage effect — you just want the effects of that single cannabinoid
- You like your cannabis experience to be consistent, every single time
The obvious major con to cannabinoid isolates is that they completely lack anything that even resembles an entourage effect. There’s no cross-communication between cannabinoids and aromatic compounds to create a holistic effect. This might be seen as a downside, and a price too big to pay for a consistent experience every time.
Don’t choose isolate cannabinoid products if…
- You can’t live without the entourage effect
- You like getting as many therapeutic compounds into your body as possible
- You love the taste of cannabis
From the pantry.
If you’re keen to experiment with isolate cannabinoid products, we recommend Delush’s 1200mg CBD solvent-free tincture. With just pure CBD isolate, you can experience the purest effects of CBD and leave out what isn’t necessary for you.
Don’t be afraid to experiment.
This is going to look like a lot of words on a page if you’ve never tried different types of cannabis products. We hope this guide helps you decide which might be the most appropriate for you, but don’t be afraid to experiment and find out for yourself which one feels best. You might find that you don’t like the side effects of psychoactive cannabis, or you might discover that it helps you combat that ailment of yours.
Which types of cannabis products have you tried? Which one worked best and what did you use it for? Tell us your story about the spectrums in the comments.