CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum – What is the Difference?

September 19, 2019  •  By Linda June

CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum – What is the Difference?

When looking for the right CBD oil for your situation, you can choose between full-spectrum and isolate products. CBD isolate vs Full Spectrum – what is the difference?

This guide will explain the differences between the two. They both offer unique benefits, and you may need to experiment until you find your perfect fit as everyone’s physiology and biology is a little bit different! 

What is CBD Isolate?

As the name suggests, isolates undergo post-extraction processing to separate all the plant compounds and phytochemicals surrounding the cannabidiol molecules. Pure CBD crystals remain that can be mixed with a beneficial oil for enhanced absorption.

Blending CBD isolate with purified MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil from organic coconuts enhances the bioavailability of the CBD and makes it more pleasant to consume.

Here are the pros and cons of CBD isolate:


  • Guaranteed purity – With an isolate, you get CBD and nothing else. The distillation process eliminates all THC and other cannabinoids plus whatever impurities may have been in the plant material. If you shop elsewhere for CBD products and they do not offer certificates of analysis (COAs) from third-party testing laboratories, you could be getting product with detectable amounts of contaminants. An isolate would offer your only protection against “dirty” oil.
  • Easily pass a drug test – With zero THC, you can submit to drug tests with no worries.
  • No possibility of psychotropic effects – If you are super-sensitive to THC, you may want to avoid full-spectrum products. Although exceptionally rare, some people can react even to less than .3 percent THC, which is the legal limit for CBD products.
  • No guesswork on how much CBD you’re getting – With a CBD isolate, you know exactly how much actual cannabidiol you’re going to get per serving. Just make sure you shake the bottle to redistribute the CBD evenly before you take it.


  • You don’t receive the entourage effect – Isolate does not contain all the bioactive cannabinoids (the entourage) of the plant material that act together to boost therapeutic effects above what the CBD alone can provide.
  • Doses must fall in an exact range to give results – This is called the “bell-shaped dose-response curve.” With isolated CBD, researchers found that the medicinal benefits of all cannabinoids seem to increase when they are all present. When they are separated, effects only happen within a very narrow dosage range. Too much or too little (each side of the bell curve) provides virtually no reward.

What is Full-Spectrum CBD Oil?

Full-spectrum oil is a pure crude extract, minus most of the chlorophyll and trichrome waxes. It retains all of the phytochemicals from the plant material, including up to .3 percent THC.

Here are the pros and cons:


  • Entourage effect – The cannabis plant contains over 100 known cannabinoids. Beyond CBD and THC, most are minor, but they play considerable supporting roles. Research consistently demonstrates that the variety of cannabinoids in the oil work together to provide greater effects combined than what each can give on its own.
  • Flattens the bell-shaped dose-response curve – Scientists discovered that when the range of bioactive cannabis compounds work together, they can initiate effects at lower dose ranges and remain potent even if you were to take more than needed.


  • May have less CBD than desired – Because each lot of extract will contain unequal amounts of cannabinoids, it can be difficult to calculate exactly how much actual CBD is in the bottle, especially if your seller doesn’t provide the COA for each lot.
  • THC may show up on a drug test – While the low level of THC won’t get you high (unless you are the rare exception), it could show up on a particularly sensitive drug test.

Flavored and Herbal CBD Blends

You may want to step up the flavor profile if you choose an isolate oil. Select CBD’s Peanut Butter CBD Oil Drops – 750mg is a great choice. But many people enjoy the neutral flavor of CBD isolate in MCT oil such as that found in Select CBD Unflavored CBD Oil Drops – 1000mg.

For extra entourage potential, consider a powerful herbal blend. Some favorites are Frosty’s Extracts Daytime Oil Drops – 1500mg with rosemary, lemon, bergamot and frankincense. If you need sleep support, try Frosty’s Extracts Nighttime Oil Drops – 1500mg with lavender, lemongrass and chamomile.

Now that you understand full-spectrum versus CBD isolates, check out the variety of brands and blends we carry today.


Martin A. Lee. Project CBD (Feb 22, 2019). CBD Isolates Vs. Full-Spectrum CBD. Retrieved from  https://www.projectcbd.org/science/cbd-isolates-vs-full-spectrum-cbd

Project CBD. FAQ: Will I flunk a drug test if I medicate with CBD-rich cannabis?. Retrieved from https://www.projectcbd.org/resources/faq#faq-361

George J. Wagner. The American Society of Plant Biologists (July 1991). Plant Physiology: Secreting Glandular Trichomes: More than Just Hairs. Retrieved from http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/96/3/675.short

Adrienn Devitt-Lee. Project CBD (Feb 20, 2019). Who’s in My Entourage? Retrieved from https://www.projectcbd.org/news/quick-hits/whos-my-entourage

Linda June

Linda June

Linda Marie June is a prolific free-lance writer who believes it that CBD is an important, non-psychoactive supplement that stands to revolutionize the way we approach a vast array of diseases and conditions.