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CBD: Full-Spectrum vs. Isolate


Quickly becoming the world’s most ubiquitous skincare ingredient, CBD is our favorite cannabinoid for overall wellness. But that’s not to say that all CBD's are created equally.

CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant in two ways: as a full-spectrum CBD, or as a CBD isolate. Though both versions come from the same plant, the two extractions are vastly different. As the name suggests, a CBD isolate works alone, without any other cannabis compounds (THC, CBC, CBG, etc.), phytonutrients, minerals, flavonoids or terpenes, therefore lowering its overall efficacy.

A full-spectrum CBD, on the other hand, contains all of these constituents and compounds working with CBD to address whatever ailment one aims to treat. “It’s the difference between taking a vitamin-C pill and eating an orange,” says Crystal, Herbivore’s wholesale representative for our full-spectrum, organic CBD found in Emerald 100mg CBD.

Well-informed shoppers must know how to weed through the dupes and the disappointments when shopping for a CBD solution. Here’s what you need to know when shopping for CBD:

  1. Full-spectrum CBD has a weed odor. It contains all cannabis compounds, phytonutrients, minerals, essential oils, and most importantly, terpenes—the aromatic and flavorful component of cannabis. CBD isolates do not contain any other component besides CBD and are therefore odorless. “People are getting duped by companies putting marketing before medicine,” explains Crystal, who advises against using an odorless CBD product labeled “full-spectrum.” Always make sure to purchase CBD from sources with a transparent Certificate of Analysis to determine the quality of the product.
  2. Isolates are overall less effective than full-spectrum CBD’s. If you have ever tried a CBD edible that you felt had no effect, consider this: Scientists grade the efficacy of CBD on the Bell-Shaped Dose Response, which concluded that as an isolated component, CBD is less likely to work unless the conditions are just-so. “If you do too little, you miss your dose. If you do too much, you miss your dose. The window of efficacy for an isolate is very small,” says Crystal.
  3. Full-spectrum CBD travels with a posse. Better known as the “entourage effect,” when cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils extracted from the plant work together to magnify the therapeutic benefits of each individual cannabinoid. Think of the entourage effect like adding pepper to turmeric to increase our absorption of the spice. In both instances, chemical diversity is the game-changing element.
  4. THC is not the enemy. As we continue to fight for legalization of cannabis nationwide, pressure is put on companies to exclude psychoactive components of cannabis from their beauty and wellness products. According to federal law, CBD products must contain less than 0.3% THC to be classified as “hemp” and are therefore legal to possess and distribute. That is not to say that CBD-only medicines are totally useless, especially as laws currently limit other alternatives, but they are overall less impactful than whole plant medicines.
  5. The carrier oil matters. As Crystal reminds us, “You have to remember that the majority of the product is going to be the carrier oil. When a company uses another carrier, like MCT oil, that is another foreign plant derivative, not hemp. It’s a coconut product with hemp extract as the common denominator.” Our full-spectrum CBD uses hemp oil as the carrier, making our ingredient 100% cannabis-only. Likewise, for glow without CBD, we offer a hemp-based facial oil, our original formula, Emerald Deep Moisture Glow Oil.


SHOP: Emerald 100mg CBD + Adaptogens