What’s the Difference Between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate CBD?

As an athlete, it’s important to understand the three different variations of CBD extracted from hemp. This referenceable article will better define CBD, how it’s processed, and the differences in the three primary types of CBD extracts: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate CBD.

What Is CBD?

Two distinct species of plants within the cannabis sativa family include marijuana (generally referred to as “cannabis”), and hemp. The most active compounds in these cannabis plants are cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids are specific to the cannabis plant and appear nowhere else in nature. Some of the more abundant cannabinoids include (cannabidiol) CBD, (tetrahydrocannabinol) THC, cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabichromene (CBC). Researchers are still discovering new ones.

The cannabis element that produces a “high” is THC. CBD doesn’t have the same intoxicating properties as THC, ie it does not produce a “high” like THC. This is a critical concern of athletes interested in CBD, to experience the benefits of CBD without side effects nor any “high”.

In 2018, the U.S. government removed hemp from its legacy classification as a controlled substance with the Farm Bill. That change opened up an entirely new world of cultivation, research, and consumer products.

Hemp is very much the world’s greatest multipurpose plant, with over 50,000 uses from making hempcrete for construction, fibers for clothing, food, and CBD extracted to produce health and wellness products.

CBD Extraction

To produce CBD oils, cosmetics or supplements, the cannabinoid must first be extracted from raw hemp plant material. Extracting CBD involves isolating the chemical compound from other plant material and distilling it in high concentrations. In general, there are four phases in extracting CBD from hemp.

What’s the Difference Between Full Spectrum,  Broad Spectrum, and Isolate CBD?

In the cultivation stage, organically grown hemp is dried and cured to avoid pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or heavy metals. CBD is then extracted from that dried plant material.

There are several ways to extract CBD from the hemp. These include:

  • steam distillation
  • solvent extraction
  • carbon dioxide extraction
  • lipid extraction

The strain of cannabis plant, its classification, and the extraction process may affect CBD’s composition. Each type features a specific extraction method that causes it to contain or omit certain aspects of the hemp plant.

The next stage is perhaps the most important, and what differentiates quality products from the rest: the testing stage, and what you, as an athlete want to pay close attention to. Accurate 3rd party testing of the extracted product is essential to ensure our products have the highest quality, potency, and purity.

This leads us to the three prominently used variations of CBD extracted from hemp: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate CBD.

Full Spectrum CBD

Full spectrum CBD has numerous other cannabinoid compounds from the cannabis plant, along with low levels of THC. This low quantity of THC is not usually potent enough to cause the “high.” This is a key differentiator between CBD types, particularly for athletes that want to ensure products don’t interfere with drug screening, as only CBD (and not THC) is no longer a banned substance according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) regardless of whether a cannabinoid is beneficial for health and healing.

Full spectrum CBD also contains cannabinoids and trace amounts of THC, terpenes from the cannabis plant. Research points to the existence of the “entourage effect,” when multiple cannabis plant compounds are present along with CBD extract, increasing the health benefits of the CBD.

Because full spectrum products contain compounds in addition to CBD, such as THC, they may maximize the “entourage effect,” where each element in the plant works together synergistically to create unique effects that cannot be accomplished by CBD isolate alone.

What’s the Difference Between Full Spectrum,  Broad Spectrum, and Isolate CBD?

Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad spectrum CBD is created using filtering processes that allow more cannabinoids to remain in the extract compared to CBD isolate. This process is often done to keep just a few cannabinoids, or even to just remove the THC. For the most part, broad spectrum CBD products do not contain THC. But that’s not always the case. By definition, broad spectrum CBD products may have trace quantities of THC.

Broad spectrum CBD might be used by someone looking for a product potentially containing minute quantities of THC for its potential benefits. But athletes should be aware, some broad spectrum products have been known to trigger a failed drug test, depending both on the test used and the product tested.

In fact, some CBD tinctures register in at two milligrams of THC per milliliter. Far too much THC to ensure a passed drug test. But it’s not enough to create a high.

Like full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD products potentially possess additional health benefits generated from the “entourage effect.” Still, full spectrum CBD has many other cannabinoid compounds in the cannabis plant, together with low levels of THC, limited to .03% by U.S. law.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, with all cannabinoids, terpenes, and healthy fatty acids from the plant stripped from the oil removed. CBD isolate is a crystalline solid or powder comprising pure CBD. Isolate is often used for vaping or oral ingestion when in crystal or powder form.

Unlike full-spectrum and broad-spectrum processed CBD, isolate contains 100% zero THC. Because of this, CBD isolate is a preferred extract type for athletes seeking the benefits of CBD, but who cannot risk ingesting or don’t want THC, even in the smallest amounts. As discussed, most other CBD products may contain at least a very small percentage of THC.

Fire+Ice CBD Isolate

At Fire+Ice, we use the purest CBD isolate extracted from hemp grown in the United States in our products.

Our CBD products contain proprietary formulations that complement the CBD isolate in delivering an entirely unique experience from all other brands. Depending on the product, Fire+Ice CBD products for athletes include our proprietary blend of over 50 premium ingredients combined with CBD isolate. These other ingredients include essential oils, analgesics, some of the main active ingredients being Arnica, Turmeric, Menthol, Camphor, MSM, Glucosamine, and Boswella Serrata. These unique combinations create a powerful “ensemble” effect unmatched by other CBD relief products, delivering remarkable soothing and long lasting relief, and that’s why athletes choose Fire+Ice products.

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