Types of CBD - CBD oil drops

The Different Types of CBD, Explained

When it comes to purchasing your first CBD product, you will probably be unfamiliar with the terms encompassing all things CBD. You may notice terms such as “whole plant extract”, “hemp extract”, “full spectrum CBD”, “broad spectrum CBD” and “CBD isolate”, but the big question is, what exactly do they mean? Do they alter the effectiveness of the product, or have different benefits to other products, such as CBD gum or capsules? In this guide, we outline the difference between the different types of CBD.

What are the different types of CBD?

CBD comes in 3 types and should be labelled on the product as “full spectrum”, “broad spectrum” or “isolate”. Put simply, these three terms help to define the three separate classifications of CBD products. Read on to find out exactly what they mean and their advantages and disadvantages.

What is Full Spectrum CBD?

Types of CBD - doctor with CBD oil

Full spectrum CBD oil is an extract from the whole plant that contains all compounds that naturally occur in the hemp plant. This kind of product is only minimally refined, leaving most of the cannabinoids intact in the CBD oil, alongside a range of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, protein, chlorophyll, terpenes and flavonoids.

As a result, full spectrum CBD is said to support the benefits of cannabinoid, this is often referred to as the “entourage effect”. Because of this, it has a longer lasting effect than any other type of CBD and but contains 0% THC THC to prevent the user from feeling “high”, making it entirely legal – this is often referred to as the “entourage effect”. Because of this, it has a longer lasting effect than any other type of CBD and but contains less than 0.3% THC to prevent the user from feeling “high”, making it entirely legal.

It is worth noting that not all full spectrum CBD oils are created in the same way. Each manufacturer may choose different raw material types and extraction methods, resulting in different effects of CBD. Typically, extracts derived from stalks and stems only have fewer cannabinoids and other compounds than that of a full plant or flower only extraction. CO2 extracted CBD oil is known to be one of the most preserving extraction methods, thus producing a better profile of cannabinoids. On the other hand, cheaper solvent extractions produce less preservation of all beneficial compounds, resulting in less effective CBD oil.

What is CBD Isolate?

Types of CBD - CBD isolate

By scientific definition, an isolate is the purest form of a compound which is produced by separating that compound from other substances and isolating it from other compounds.

As a result, CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, found in the form of a fine white powder, containing at least 99% pure CBD. This is produced by removing all compounds found in the plant including terpenes, flavonoids, plant parts and other cannabinoids. The aim is to deliver effective doses of CBD to the recipient and is entirely legal and doesn’t include any other active ingredient, such as THC, because it is extracted from a hemp plant.

You may also like: A Guide to Flying with CBD Oil in Europe

What is Broad Spectrum CBD?

Types of CBD - hemp plant

Broad spectrum CBD oil is a mix between full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate. Just like full spectrum CBD, the other compounds found within the plant are preserved in the extract, however, like CBD isolate, THC is completely removed making it completely legal.

Broad spectrum CBD contains multiple cannabinoids, it can deliver the enhanced benefits of the “entourage effect”, without the risk of psychoactive effects of THC.

What type of CBD should you use?

Now that you have a general understanding of each type of CBD oil, you’re probably wondering which type is best and most effective? Not forgetting the most important question, which type of CBD oil should you choose? It was previously believed that CBD isolate was the most effective type of CBD oil, however people now believe full spectrum CBD is the most efficient.

Despite this, there is not one-fit answer for all. Everyone reacts differently to CBD and, depending on the individual’s needs, which type of CBD is best suited to them may differ.

Pros and cons of the different CBD types:

Full spectrum CBD


  • Considered “gold standard” in CBD products
  • Whole plant extract
  • Strong effect


  • Full spectrum CBD is often misused by brands. Check the small print – the more cannabinoids included, the better effect the product can be.

Broad spectrum CBD


  • High quality
  • Entourage effect
  • Contains no THC


  • Reduced effect due to missing cannabinoids
  • May contain traces of THC (although not necessarily bad as this makes up an important part of the “entourage effect”)

CBD isolate


  • Cheaper to buy
  • Purest form of CBD oil


  • The benefits are sometimes restricted due to isolating methods used
  • Using an increased amount of CBD isolate won’t always cause an increased effect, whereas if you do the same with a full-spectrum product, the effect continues to increase.

To find out more about CBD, be sure to read our comprehensive guides.

Feature image credit: Creativan / Shutterstock