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Full-spectrum vs broad-spectrum CBD

October 22, 2019

Full-spectrum vs broad-spectrum CBD

Our journey to understanding the differences.

If you’ve done any exploring of CBD you’ve likely come across products labeled as “full-spectrum” or “broad-spectrum”. What does this all mean and how do they differ?

Understanding or sorting through any standardization of CBD can be confusing and frustrating, to say the least. As the founding partner of Keola, I’ve experienced this first hand. Navigating through the waters of misinformation, changing terminology, and dynamic compliance standards makes it difficult for people and companies with genuinely good intentions to get answers and arrive at standards we all crave.

To start, why are some Keola products labeled as full-spectrum when lab tests show 0% THC?

What makes understanding the difference and labeling broad-spectrum vs full-spectrum CBD oil confusing is that there is no definitive definition for either. It’s an arbitrary battle of linguistics. Those within the CBD industry coined the terms themselves, but not everyone got the memo. This has muddied the waters between what full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil means. As their names imply, full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil contain a wide range of cannabinoids. However, they aren’t identical.

At the time of printing labels for Keola balms and tinctures, “full-spectrum” was the industry standard when describing CBD products that contained multiple cannabinoids — even if THC was not among them. (It’s important to remember there are over 100 cannabinoids found in hemp plants). Although full-spectrum CBD oil can be derived from hemp or marijuana, under the 2018 Farm Bill, any hemp-based product must have 0.3% THC or less. In compliance, all Keola products are derived from hemp and all THC has been removed. As the industry continues to evolve and efforts are made to standardize terminology, confusion such as this will be in the past.

Moving forward, to make every effort to remain transparent and compliant in a constantly changing industry, we will likely be changing our future labels to say “broad-spectrum” in place of “full-spectrum” to convey that all THC has been removed from our products.

As always, if customers are not completely satisfied or if they feel they’ve purchased the wrong product to meet their needs, they may send the unused portion of the product back and we will promptly refund your purchase.

Additionally, we thought it would be helpful to explain the differences between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD and how we arrived at the terms used to describe products.

Detailing the differences between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum.

Let’s begin with the extraction process. Both types of CBD go through basically the same process (with some variations, depending on the extractor).

All types of CBD oil are extracted by applying pressure to the hemp plant. The highest quality CBD oil companies use food-grade ethanol or pressurized carbon dioxide to apply this pressure. When the plant comes into contact with food-grade ethanol or pressurized carbon dioxide, the pressure causes the hairs on the plant to open. These hairs are known as trichomes, and they hold the cannabinoids.

When the cannabinoids are released, the molecules bind onto the carbon in the pressurized carbon dioxide or food-grade ethanol. Next, these molecules are distilled, removing any solid plant material from the formula.

Lastly, CBD oil is refined. The solvents are removed from the final product, leaving cannabinoids, terpenes and other phytochemicals. At this point, the compounds within the product can be identified. Specialists can then alter the formula to meet the standards of a particular CBD company. Ultimately, cannabinoids are either added or removed from the oil before it is used to produce CBD products.

Full-spectrum CBD oil:

Full-spectrum oil has had no cannabinoids removed, including the psychoactive compounds. The reason for this goes back to the “entourage effect”. The entourage effect is a term coined that refers to the theory that cannabinoids work in unison for the betterment of the whole, THC included. However, it is the subject of constant debate as to whether or not THC is needed to make the most of the entourage effect. Although the industry has not regulated the terms, a full-spectrum CBD oil will most likely (but not always) have THC in the formula. So, if you see “full-spectrum" on the label, be sure to check out the company’s lab reports.

Broad-spectrum CBD oil:

The refining process is critical for crafting broad-spectrum oil. During this step of the process, unwanted cannabinoids can be removed from the formula. Some CBD companies (like Keola) opt to remove THC from their products. However, they will keep the other cannabinoids in the formula. Companies that remove THC from the final product are now trending to market their products as broad-spectrum CBD oil. With broad-spectrum CBD oil, you are still getting the synergy of the other cannabinoids. The only one missing from the party is THC. Because broad-spectrum CBD contains multiple cannabinoids, it can deliver the enhanced benefits of the “entourage effect,” without the risk of psychoactive effects of THC.

Broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD Oil, which is best?

At the end of the day, both types of CBD oil have their benefits. While some believe THC may help boost the overall formula, removing it from the equation doesn’t hurt the product. A broad-spectrum oil can be just as effective at supporting wellness.

If you do opt for full-spectrum CBD oil, be sure to read the label to find out the plant source. Full-spectrum CBD oil can be derived from hemp or marijuana. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, any hemp-based product must have 0.3% THC or less.

Where recreational cannabis is legal, producers can also make full-spectrum CBD oil from marijuana. If you purchase your full-spectrum CBD oil from a state where they’ve legalized recreational cannabis, bringing your oil over state lines made from marijuana instead of hemp may become an issue as there is still the percentage of THC you have to consider.

Broad-spectrum CBD oil doesn’t come with this excess baggage. These CBD products are derived from hemp and have had THC removed from the final formula, meaning potential psychoactive side effects are highly unlikely.

To learn more about the differences between Broad-spectrum and Full-spectrum CBD Oil visit the FAQ page.

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