If you’ve bought CBD before or looked at CBD products, you’ve likely seen the terms full spectrum and broad spectrum. These are simply terms that describe two of the three forms of CBD available. One form includes all the components of the CBD plant while the other form only includes some.
But the differences between the two and how they interact with our bodies go a little bit deeper. That’s why we’ve created a guide to break the two forms down.
One thing for sure between the two is that neither form of CBD is psychoactive, meaning neither full-spectrum nor broad spectrum CBD will get you high or anywhere near being high.
Whether you’re new to the world of CBD or are a CBD pro, the difference may surprise you! First let’s review the ingredients in CBD and what they do.
Basics of CBD Oil
CBD oil is extracted from the flowers, leaves, and stalk of the Cannabis sativa plant. There are three main categories of compounds in CBD: cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Let’s break down what each of these compounds are and how they interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system.
One of the most popular benefits of CBD is its therapeutic, relaxing qualities, and this is thanks to cannabinoids. These compounds interact with our endocannabinoid system and help ease physical tension and promote total body relaxation.
Two of the most common and well-known cannabinoids are THC and CBD.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound that comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. In other words, if THC is in large enough quantities, it can produce the intoxicating effects associated with hemp. However, CBD products do not contain more than 0.3 percent THC, so it is not possible to experience psychoactive effects from CBD oil, even if taken in extremely high amounts.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is another well-known cannabinoid extracted from the plant that promotes relaxing and balancing effects in the body, and will not get you high in any amount.
The second compound extracted from the cannabis plant are terpenes. Terpenes are mainly responsible for the cannabis plant’s fragrance.
Smell alone can produce soothing effects -- think aromatherapy! For example, imagine the fragrance of a spa, or how your favorite bubble bath smells and how they promote relaxation. Simply imagining these smells may make you feel relaxed. In the same way, terpenes produce a therapeutic fragrance.
Terpenes are also responsible for the plant’s stickiness. The word terpene comes from the word turpentine, which is the sap found in trees. Similarly, terpenes are the sticky sap found in the cannabis plant. They also act as antioxidants (the same main benefit of vitamin C and vitamin E!), which are powerful agents for supporting overall wellness and helping your body defend itself against stressors in your environment like pollution or UV rays.
Like CBD, terpenes have no effect on your mind and will not get you high.
The last compound found in the Cannabis plant are called flavonoids. These are also packed with antioxidants to help support your wellness. There are many different flavonoids extracted from the plant, such as apigenin, cannflavin A, and quercetin. Cannflavin A is especially known for its powerful soothing properties to help relieve tension and discomfort.
As with terpenes and CBD, flavonoids don’t get you high either.
Our Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is a vital part of how the components of CBD oil work in our bodies!
Our endocannabinoid system is the system in our bodies that contains receptors for cannabinoids and helps to balance and regulate different functions throughout our body.
For instance, it supports processes like sleep, mood, appetite, and even brain functions like focus. The endocannabinoid system and its receptors are found throughout the whole body. There are receptors in the brain, connective tissues, glands, immune cells, vital organs, and more. These receptors allow cannabinoids to interact with our body as a whole, which is why you’ll see benefits holistically instead of noticing one single improvement in one particular part of your body.
Our endocannabinoid system is an important aspect of how CBD works. Without it, CBD would go into our bodies, and right back out, unable to provide the beneficial effects and soothing abilities it’s so well known for.
Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum CBD
Let’s talk about what full spectrum and broad spectrum mean and how they differ from one another!
Full Spectrum CBD
Full spectrum CBD is made from the whole Cannabis plant and includes a very very trace amount of THC (nowhere near enough to get you even a little high). It also has the strongest entourage effect since it includes the most bioidentical form of CBD (i.e., how it is naturally found in nature).
In other words, full spectrum CBD allows all the components of the plant to work together, magnifying their benefits.
Broad Spectrum CBD
Broad Spectrum CBD contains all the same ingredients as full spectrum, except for THC. It removes all traces of THC from the extract while still including the other components of the plant. It is still a powerful form of CBD and interacts with our endocannabinoid system effectively, just not as effectively as full spectrum since the team is missing one of its main players.
The Entourage Effect
Research about the effectiveness of CBD oils in pure form has found that the power of full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD oils relies on a theory called the entourage effect.
The entourage effect is the theory that all the components of the Cannabis sativa plant work together and have greater beneficial effects when used together than when separated.
So, how does the entourage effect broad spectrum and full spectrum concentrations of CBD? Well, since full spectrum CBD contains all the ingredients naturally found in the cannabis plant, it has a large entourage effect and is the most powerful of the two. Broad spectrum CBD contains CBD and other beneficial plant parts like the terpenes we mentioned above, which still work together to produce some of an entourage effect, but it doesn’t contain that trace amount of THC, so this effect is much lower.
If You’re Concerned About Getting High, Don’t Be!
Many people are hesitant to try CBD products because they’re concerned about feeling “high” or “out of it” due to THC, however as we mentioned, the amount of THC allowed in CBD products is so tiny that even taking the max recommended amount of CBD per day will not produce any kind of intoxicating or psychoactive effect.
Our CBD products have 0 to 0.3 percent (i.e. a fraction of a percent) THC, and are classified as industrial hemp under federal state law.
Tip: If you’re new to CBD but are ready to give it a try, give our broad spectrum hemp gummies a go! They contain no THC, but still have the other beneficial plant compounds CBD needs to help your body as much as it can. To learn more about hemp and how we make our products, explore our Hemp 101 resource here!
Choosing the Best Product for You
When it comes to CBD and hemp products, there is no one-size-fits-all. Your decision depends on your personal preference and what you want to achieve.
For instance, if you struggle with everyday aches and pains, a full spectrum CBD relief cream can help ease tension and discomfort in a joint or muscle.
If you want a more overall boost in wellness or are looking for a natural way to relax and feel calm without feeling loopy, our full spectrum CBD tincture drops or our broad spectrum CBD gummies both work on your endocannabinoid system to help your body feel more balanced in what it does everyday.
The difference between full spectrum CBD and broad spectrum CBD is small, but important. Full spectrum CBD contains all the ingredients of the hemp plant, including a tiny unnoticeable amount of THC, and allows them to work together. Broad spectrum CBD excludes THC but has everything else.
When you understand how these ingredients interact with each other and the endocannabinoid system in our bodies, you can understand how they produce the beneficial effects CBD is known for, and you can choose which one is right for you.