Exploring CBD oil for the first time often feels like learning a new language.
With so many new terms to learn, it can be difficult to know what is relevant and what is just marketing jargon and you may end up asking questions like ‘what is full spectrum CBD oil’?
The CBD spectrum is one term that often confuses first-time users.
CBD is categorised as full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or CBD isolate. In this instance, the term spectrum refers to the cannabinoid profile of the product.
When producers extract CBD from commercial hemp plants, this isn’t the only compound to make it into the finished product. Other cannabinoids and terpenes will be present in the finished product, including THC.
If you are hoping to completely avoid THC, choosing a broad-spectrum product is essential.
But what is Full Spectrum CBD Oil?
This blog will outline the differences between broad and full-spectrum CBD and why you should care.
What's in this Guide?
What is Full Spectrum CBD?
Unless you purchase CBD isolate, your CBD product will also contain varying levels of other beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.
So when we talk about broad and full-spectrum CBD, we are really talking about the THC content of the product.
Commercial hemp plants are naturally low in THC, but this compound will still be present in the finished product. It’s possible to “burn off” the majority of the THC during the production process to control the amount of THC that makes it into the finished product.
Some other common cannabinoids include:
Broad and full-spectrum CBD will also contain beneficial compounds called terpenes.
Terpenes are fragrant plant oils that are produced on the trichomes of a plant. They produce a strong odour that may also taste bitter to some animals.
This is a defence mechanism to help protect the plant while it is in flower.
Terpenes are what gives cannabis and CBD their distinct flavour. They often taste earthy, similar to pine. Different strains of commercial hemp will produce different terpene profiles, which is why different batches of CBD oil can taste very different.
Flavonoids are similar to terpenes but offer different benefits.
Berries, red cabbage, onions, kale, dark chocolate and parsley are also rich in flavonoids.
Why Does CBD Contain Additional Cannabinoids and Terpenes?
Another term new CBD-users will see thrown around a lot is the “entourage effect”. This doesn’t have anything to do with the early 2000’s TV show.
Instead, it refers to the way cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids work together in the body.
The best way to imagine the entourage effect is to imagine your everyday diet. You need a variety of nutrients in order to stay healthy.
For example, you could choose to only eat tomatoes for every meal. Tomatoes are undoubtedly healthy, but they don’t contain everything we need to maintain a healthy body.
Instead, we build a diet based on fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, grains and occasional treats. This variety of nutrients is far better than choosing one single healthy food to eat for every meal.
CBD works in a similar way. Choosing a CBD isolate will only give you access to one cannabinoid, albeit in much higher concentrations.
But from research, we know that cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids work better together.
What is the Difference Between Full-Spectrum vs Broad-Spectrum CBD?
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains a complete cannabinoids profile, including THC.
In the UK, the THC levels must be very low for the product to be legal.
If you notice anyone selling a high THC product, they are either selling something illegal, or they are lying about the contents of their product.
And it’s worth noting that the THC content does not typically increase in line with the CBD content. The law remains the same, whether you choose a product with 10% CBD or 25% CBD.
More research is needed to know the ideal balance of CBD to THC.
Broad-spectrum CBD contains a complete cannabinoid profile, with the THC removed. This is ideal for those concerned about cannabis products. It’s also suitable for athletes and other professionals who may be subject to drug testing.
Your choice between a full-spectrum and broad-spectrum product is down to personal preference.
The THC content in full-spectrum CBD products is not enough to get you high.
However, if you source your CBD from less reputable brands, there is no guarantee the label on the bottle will match the contents.
Is Full-Spectrum CBD Legal?
Full-spectrum CBD oil is legal in the UK, provided the THC content is within legal limits.
The Home Office guidelines mention 0.2% in reference to the amount of THC a commercial hemp plant can produce.
These guidelines are for those seeking to secure a license to cultivate commercial hemp.
A recent research paper by the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry makes recommendations to the Home Office that THC content should be limited to 0.03%.
How Do I Know if My CBD Product is Legal?
Purchasing CBD from a reputable source is the best way to ensure your CBD contains legal levels of THC or zero-THC if you prefer.
Responsible CBD sellers provide lab analysis reports so you can check the cannabinoid profile of the product you are using.
If you are concerned about drugs testing at work, we recommend choosing a broad-spectrum CBD product from a responsible seller.
Some red flags to look out for when choosing a CBD seller include:
- No lab reports provided
- Out of date reports
- Reports not specific to the product you are purchasing
- The company is advertising high levels of THC
- The product is referred to as “weed lite” or synthetic cannabis
- No physical address for the company is listed on the website
- No trace of the company online (but this isn’t always a deal-breaker, new companies may take some time to build up reviews)
- No customer support contact details
If you have doubts about a product, it’s always better to be safe.
Unfortunately, high THC content isn’t the only risk with unreliable CBD providers. These products could also contain high levels of heavy metals, pesticides or traces of solvents.