CBD as full-spectrum oil, broad-spectrum oil and isolate

cbd oil the cannabinoid spectrum
Written by Stefan K.

CBD, in other words, the cannabidiol from the hemp plant, is available in different types. Which of the three CBD products described in this text you use depends entirely on the benefits you are hoping to achieve.

CBD itself is related to THC, but it is not psychoactive, does not cause intoxication and is not addictive. Depending on the ingredients, experts and manufacturers distinguish between full-spectrum oils, broad-spectrum oils and CBD isolates.

CBD oil – the cannabinoid spectrum

CBD can be extracted from hemp in various ways. The CBD obtained in this way is then mixed with a carrier substance – in most cases this is vegetable oil.

What is full-spectrum CBD oil?

According to the current state of knowledge, cannabis contains more than 100 different ingredients. These range from CBD (cannabidiol) to CBG (cannabigerol) to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Experts attribute to each of these substances its own mode of action, which is, however, comparable to the others. According to EU regulations, only CBD products with a THC content of 0.2% or less can be legally traded.

Each of the individual cannabis ingredients works on its own, but also via the entourage effect. The entourage effect states that the individual ingredients of a full-spectrum CBD oil have a more potent effect together than alone. Several cannabinoids together have a different effect than each of these cannabinoids taken individually. They are therefore more than the mere sum of their parts. Visually, full-spectrum CBD oils are recognisable by their rather dark colour.

Contains many different cannabinoidsAlways contains a touch of THC
Uses the entourage effect  

What is a broad-spectrum CBD oil?

The ingredients of a broad-spectrum CBD oil are in most cases flavonoids, terpenes as well as many other cannabinoids. Unlike full-spectrum CBD oil, broad-spectrum CBD oil contains hardly any detectable traces of THC, for example. Broad spectrum CBD oils are often dark to golden yellow. Users of broad-spectrum CBD oils sometimes enjoy the entourage effect.

Contains all ingredients found in the cannabis plant, uses “entourage effect”Least researched so far
No THC, hence no psychoactive effect

What is CBD isolate (isolated CBD oil)?

Obtained for example by supercritical CO2 extraction, CBD isolate is very often used in medicine. The white, fine-grained CBD powder is turned into isolated cannabidiol by means of several purification procedures. The end result is a crystalline powder with a CBD content of more than 99%. The CBD isolate is also referred to as “CBD crystals“.

In the pharmaceutical form of CBD oil, the degree of purity naturally decreases. CBD isolate is often used by end users to produce their own CBD oils in the desired purity grades. Due to their high purity, CBD isolates are not able to have a broader effect via the entourage effect. However, this can have other advantages. In an oil mixture, the CBD isolate appears in a very light golden colour.

High degree of purityNo entourage effect
Can be used as a medicineMore expensive due to the complex manufacturing process

Difference full spectrum vs isolate

What exactly are the differences between a full-spectrum CBD oil and an isolate?

The following criteria can serve as a better orientation:

Criteria                     Full spectrum CBD oilCBD isolate
CannabinoidsContains many different cannabinoidsContains only CBD
THC contentUp to 0.2 % THCNo THC
Entourage effect   Uses entourage effectNo entourage effect
Pharmacological EffectNot present   Present, may be considered a medicine
General costsCheaper  More expensive


The degree of purity and CBD extraction

The use of CBD as a full-spectrum oil, as a broad-spectrum oil or as an isolate is preceded by various extraction processes. This usually involves extracting the valuable oil from the hemp plant. The various extraction options range from modern solvents to traditional dissolving with olive oil.

Dissolving CBD with olive oil

This is probably the oldest method for extracting CBD. Extracting CBD using olive oil is simple, efficient and safe. In this method, the plant undergoes decarboxylation. In this process, everything is heated until the chemical substances in the plant fibres are activated. Through this method, the diverse cannabinoids are extracted. Unlike alcohol, the olive oil does not volatilise during the process.

Extracting CBD with solvents

Inexpensive ways to dissolve CBD from the cannabis plant are solvents with alcohol, butane, ethanol or isopropyl. The method is simple, quick to implement but not risk-free. The solvents used are highly flammable. Another negative point is that these solvents can usually destroy highly effective plant waxes. The solvents listed extract not only the cannabinoids but also the chlorophyll from the plant. Even though most of the solvents evaporate during the extraction process, residues can still remain.

CO2 extraction

If you want CBD of the highest purity, experts use CO2 extraction to obtain it. CO2 is both inert and low in energy. This offers a high degree of safety during the extraction process. Tests have so far been unable to detect any CO2 residues in the CBD extracted in this way. Three chambers are used in the extraction process. The first chamber contains the CO2, the second the plant material and the third the end product. The CO2 used can be pumped back into the first chamber after the process, meaning this extraction process is not only highly effective, but it is also sustainable.

The most effective process for producing CBD is with CO2

Extracting CBD with dry ice

Extraction of CBD by means of dry ice is not used in commercial production. However, it is certainly used for home use. In this process, the hemp is placed in mesh bags. These bags are then covered with dry ice for a few minutes. The effect is to freeze the cannabinoid-filled trichomes inside the hemp. Afterwards, the mesh bags are shaken and the CBD plant fibres fall through the mesh to the outside. Now the trichomes only have to be heated to an oil.

The THC content of CBD oil

With most types of CBD extraction, a good portion of THC is also produced. This is supposed to remain at a legal level in full-spectrum CBD oils, but in both broad-spectrum CBD oils and CBD isolates, there is supposed to be no detectable percentage of THC left.

In most cases, CBD obtained by one of the methods described above is further processed to remove all traces of THC. Using low temperatures and pressures, the CBD is isolated further and further via a CO2 separator within a closed circuit. These processes are complex, which is why broad-spectrum and isolate CBDs are more expensive. The processes are stopped in the case of broad-spectrum CBD oils to actually remove only the THC and not the other cannabinoids. With isolate CBD, a purity of over 99% is desired and therefore the process is performed to the end.

Carrier oils for CBD

Carrier media for the full-spectrum CBD oils as well as for the broad-spectrum oils serve to be able to dose the very strong effect of pure CBD. In addition, carriers such as the oils can considerably facilitate the absorption of CBD into the body. Since the carrier oils are usually plant oils, they can also have health benefits.

  • MCT oil (from coconut)
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Olive oil
  • Grape seed oil
  • Pomegranate oil
  • Avocado oil
 A true all-round talent: the avocado and the oil it contains

Taking CBD

Apart from CBD oils, manufacturers also produce other CBD dosage forms. Among them are:

… as well as numerous others. The different dosage forms allow CBD to adapt to people’s needs in the best possible way.


  • Basically, full-spectrum CBD oils, broad-spectrum CBD oils and isolated CBD oils differ in their ingredients.
  • Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all known cannabinoids, including an extremely small and therefore legal amount of THC.
  • The same applies to the broad-spectrum CBD oil as to the full-spectrum CBD oil, excluding the THC.
  • The absence of THC is the trademark of broad-spectrum CBD oils.
  • CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD. It has a purity level of over 99%.
  • The entourage effect does not occur with isolated CBD because no other cannabinoids are present.


  1. What is a full-spectrum oil?

    Contains the full spectrum of cannabinoids and even THC can be present in full spectrum oils.

  2. What is a broad-spectrum oil?

    The ingredients of a broad-spectrum CBD oil are mostly flavonoids, terpenes and many other cannabinoids.

  3. What is CBD isolate?

    The purest form of consuming CBD, as there is also no THC present. However, all other cannabinoids are also extracted, so there is no entourage effect.

  4. Which product provides the best experience?

    It is necessary to test which product is best for you personally. If you react to THC, you should go for a CBD isolate. Otherwise, you can read real testimonials about the different CBD products on

When taking products containing cannabinoids, it is possible that they may interact with various medications. If you are taking medication yourself, the use of CBD and other cannabinoids should be discussed with your doctor beforehand.

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About the author

Stefan K.

Stefan K.

Stefan is not only a valuable part of the CannaTrust magazine but also convinces with his sound knowledge about the effects of cannabinoids. As an author in Austria he gathered valuable experiences when writing for 'Stadtblatt Salzburg'. He got in contact with cannabis through several positive media reports. Nowadays he writes about everything around the most popular cannabinoid these days: CBD.