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News > Broad Spectrum vs Full Spectrum CBD — What's the difference?

Broad Spectrum vs Full Spectrum CBD — What's the difference?

Tue, Aug 09, 2022 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

Broad Spectrum vs Full Spectrum CBD — What's the difference?

We’ve got something important to tell you: not all CBD products are equal. 

That’s what the stats say, at least. Up to 70% of today’s CBD products are potentially mislabeled — and even products that are labeled correctly might be missing something super important. 

In this article we’ll be diving deep into the two most popular types of CBD on the market today: broad spectrum CBD and full spectrum CBD.

  • The one big difference between broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD
  • Full spectrum CBD 101
  • Broad spectrum CBD 101
  • What to look for in a full spectrum CBD product

The one big difference between broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD 

Let’s start off with the basics. What’s the difference between broad spectrum CBD and full spectrum CBD?

One thing, and one thing only: THC. 

Full spectrum CBD contains trace amounts of THC, while broad spectrum CBD does not. Both types of CBD contain hemp’s other characteristic cannabinoids (including CBD, of course!), terpenes, flavonoids, etc. It’s just their THC content that differs. Details coming up next. 

Full spectrum CBD 101

Full spectrum CBD is the most popular type of CBD on the market right now. In our opinion it’s also the best type of CBD on the market right now. 

True to its name, full spectrum CBD contains a full, well, spectrum of hemp’s most important ingredients. If ingredient A, B, C, or X is present in hemp, it’ll probably find its way into a full spectrum CBD product. You can thank ultra-advanced extraction and filtration methods for that. 

But more on such methods later. For now let’s look at what you can expect to find in any given full spectrum hemp product. While hemp contains hundreds of active ingredients, most of these ingredients fall into one of four categories:

  • Cannabinoids
  • Terpenoids/terpenes
  • Flavonoids/flavones
  • Plant pigments

Full spectrum CBD: top cannabinoids

  • CBD
  • THC
  • CBG
  • CBDa (‘raw’ CBD)
  • THCa (‘raw’ THC)
  • CBGa (‘raw’ CBG)
  • CBN
  • CBT
  • CBL

Full spectrum CBD: top terps

  • A-bisabolol
  • A-humulene
  • B-caryophyllene
  • Eucalyptol
  • Guaiol
  • Cedrol

Full spectrum CBD: the flavones

  • Cannflavin A
  • Cannflavin B

Full spectrum CBD: the pigments

  • Chlorophyll
  • Carotenoid pigments

With the exception of the pigments, an authentic full spectrum CBD product will contain all these goodies and more. (Our Full Spectrum CBD+THC Oil sure does!) 

How is full spectrum CBD made?

Full spectrum CBD is made through a specialized extraction process. This process extracts hemp’s water-soluble and fat-soluble ingredients from its fibrous biomass (think leaves, stalks, stems, etc). To carry out extraction, some type of chemical solvent is needed; the best CBD manufacturers generally use ethanol or CO2. These solvents leave little residue behind and create a super clean end-product. 

Full spectrum CBD: the pros

We’re not really sure where to start when it comes to full spec CBD’s upsides, but we’ll give it our best shot. 

The greatest thing about full spectrum CBD is that it stays true to nature — and nature still knows best! This nature> tech concept might sound like wishful thinking, but it’s actually backed by science. 

Studies from the practical world leader of cannabis research, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, clearly show that full spectrum’s natural ingredient diversity makes it up to four times more effective than pure CBD alone. Full spectrum is faster-acting, more powerful, and easier to dose than single-ingredient alternatives. Leading cannabis experts almost universally agree with this concept. [1]

Full spectrum CBD: the cons

Full spectrum CBD doesn’t have many downsides, either. The average person won’t experience anything negative from taking full spectrum CBD, except perhaps a little drowsiness or dry mouth. Don’t just throw caution to the wind, though. Be sure to start off with a small dose of CBD and talk to your doctor before beginning a new CBD routine (especially if you’re currently taking pharmaceutical medications).

Broad spectrum CBD 101

Earlier we stated that the only difference between full spectrum CBD and broad spectrum CBD is their THC content, and while that’s mostly true, it’s also a bit of an oversimplification. We’ll explain below. 

How is broad spectrum CBD made?

Broad spectrum CBD starts off the same way full spectrum CBD does: with perfectly-cultivated hemp flower and dedicated extraction tech. 

They go through the same initial extraction process, too. Once extraction is complete, though, soon-to-be broad spec CBD goes through a secondary extraction process. This second one serves to remove hemp’s trace THC content from the mix, and it’s even more advanced than the first. Among the methods used are flash chromatography and fractional distillation. 

The final product will be rich in cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids — and entirely free from delta-9 THC. Some experts feel that broad spectrum CBD processes out a little bit more than it should, however. It may not be quite as high as full spec CBD in ingredients that share a similar molecular mass to THC. 

Broad spectrum CBD: the pros

Broad spectrum CBD is a frequent top choice of people who undergo drug testing for school or for work. It’s also popular among people who don’t want to take THC because of their belief system. In some countries (like Japan) it’s the default choice, as these countries ban any amount of THC whatsoever. 

Broad spectrum CBD: the cons

Some brands claim that broad spectrum CBD is just as effective as its THC-containing counterpart, but that’s almost never true. Its lack of THC means it probably can’t saturate your body’s endocannabinoid receptors quite as directly as full spectrum CBD can. [2] Users who’ve tried them both often feel it takes more broad spectrum to experience the same level of benefits they’ve experienced from full spectrum CBD. 

What to look for in a premium full spectrum CBD product

At the start of this article we claimed that not all types of CBD are created equal. 

There’s a deeper level to things, though: not all full spectrum CBD products are created equal. Some products possess fuller cannabinoid profiles than others! Heck, more than a few products labeled full spectrum aren’t even what they claim to be. 

A truly full spectrum CBD product will feature all of hemp’s active ingredients — and feature them in a true-to-nature ratio. That’s exactly what we’re doing with our full spectrum CBD here at fiveTM. All of our products contain a 5:1 ratio of CBD to other cannabinoids. Based on what we know about cannabinoid pharmacology (and what plenty of customers are saying), this ratio takes ‘regular’ full spectrum CBD’s benefits to a whole new level. 

Summing things up

Full spectrum CBD is superior to broad spectrum CBD in almost every way possible. It’s stronger, faster acting, easier to dose, and truer to nature’s original design! 

Leading experts agree. Just take it from Lumír Hanuš, the cannabis chemist who helped discover endocannabinoids like anandamide: [3]

It has become clear that the healing potential of the whole plant is stronger than isolated compounds on their own. [...] there are other compounds found in cannabis which seem to be synergistically affecting the overall therapeutic effect. [...] Be it terpenes, flavonoids, polyphenols, or other substances, we need to find out how they enhance or suppress the healing effects of cannabis.”

Just be sure to get a premium product that’s truly full spectrum. At fiveTM CBD we’re here to help with that. Check out our selection of authentic full spectrum CBD oils today.  

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