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Cannabis extracts revealed: isolation and broad spectrum vs. full spectrum
2022/01/20 13:15
Cannabis extracts revealed: isolation and broad spectrum vs. full spectrum

The CBD business is booming. Now a billion dollar a year industry in the United States, more and more people every day are choosing to try CBD as a holistic approach to their health problems instead of prescription drugs.  


While you can purchase hundreds of products from your local Supercritical CO2 Extraction machine store, not all products are created equal. The difference comes down to which type of CBD extract is infused into the product. Some products are combined with extracts that contain only one cannabinoid, while others may contain more than 100 cannabinoids or compounds produced by the cannabis plant.  


There are three categories of CBD extracts you can purchase: isolated, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum. Each category is categorized in a way that is directly related to the individual cannabinoids that make up the extract.


In this blog, we demystify the different CBD products and break down what you should know about the chemical differences between the various extracts. 


What is a cannabis extract?


Cannabis extracts come from the cannabis plant - hemp or marijuana - and the extracts may contain more than 100 cannabinoids. Understanding the difference between cannabis and cannabis extracts has to do with the cannabinoid profile of the extract. The cannabinoid profile is specific to a cannabis strain and provides information about the concentration and type of cannabinoids that make up the extract.


Chemically, the main difference between cannabis and hemp is the amount of THC and CBD in the plant, THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid that gives you a "high" and euphoric feeling. CBD, on the other hand, works differently in your body and does not produce the same physical sensations as THC.


Extracts from the cannabis plant contain less than 0.3% THC and do not get you high due to the minimal amount of THC, while extracts from cannabis may contain up to 30% THC and will get you high.  


How are CBD extracts made?


Cannabinoids like CBD and THC are essentially fats. They don't like water, so most CBD extracts are made using a solvent-based method using fat-loving solvents like ethanol, butane, hexane, or supercritical CO2. The process of making CBD extracts is very complex and the type of compounds present in each category ultimately depends on the refining process of the crude cannabis extract.


Cannabis plants and the resulting spectrum-based extracts are rich in compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids in addition to cannabinoids. The difference between an injected isolate and a product of a broad or full spectrum oil is related to the type of cannabinoids and other compounds in the extract.


Once the cannabinoids are separated from the plant fat and pigments, the next step is to make the spectrum and isolates. In the case of isolates, all terpenes and flavonoids are separated and removed from the extract.


What does the term spectrum mean?


The term spectrum in the cannabis world is just another way to talk about a wide range of products, or the presence of more than one cannabinoid and/or terpene. You can equate this idea to the visible spectrum you see in a rainbow or ROYGBIV. This means that the same concept applies to spectrum-based CBD extracts, but in this case you replace the colors with various cannabinoids.  


Unlike the rainbow, which has only seven colors, the cannabis plant has more than 100 individual cannabinoids. Can you imagine seeing a rainbow of over 100 different colors?  


Phew, that would be a glorious vision to remember.

Full-spectrum vs. broad-spectrum CBD extracts


The easiest way to differentiate between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum extracts is based on the cannabinoid profile.


Full-spectrum CBD extracts contain the psychoactive compound THC, as well as other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that occur naturally in the plant. If we review our rainbow analogy, you can think of full-spectrum extracts as having all the colors

ROYGBIV, or all 100+ phytocannabinoids.  


On the other hand, broad spectrum CBD extracts do not contain THC. these extracts undergo a more chemical refining process to remove THC, but still retain all the other cannabinoids except terpenes and flavonoids. In this case, your rainbow is now OYGBIV, lacking the red or cannabinoid THC.

What is a CBD isolate?


Unlike spectrum-based products, CBD isolates contain only a single cannabinoid, CBD, and not a mixture of other plant compounds. Again using the example of a rainbow, this is equivalent to having only one color of the rainbow, such as green.   


The isolate is the purest and most concentrated form of CBD and the most chemically refined extract compared to the full and broad spectrum. You can isolate any individual cannabinoid, such as CBD or THC, but the most common form is the CBD isolate.  


If you want to get a large dose of pure CBD, then an edible product infused with CBD isolate is your best bet.


How to decide your own spectrum type and isolate


There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding which type of CBD product you should consume. The decision comes down to whether you prefer THC and what results you want to achieve with that product.


Studies have shown that cannabinoids have a synergistic effect when taken with a single cannabinoid like CBD. This synergy is one of the reasons why most consumers prefer full and broad-spectrum products over isolates, especially when it comes to anxiety and pain management.  


That being said, there are benefits to consuming broad-spectrum products over full-spectrum or isolates, especially if you don't want to use tetrahydrocannabinol but want the synergistic benefits from a cannabinoid blend.

How to Choose Spectrum and Isolates for Your Pet


When purchasing CBD for your fur child, make sure the product is infused with an isolate or broad-spectrum extract rather than a full-spectrum extract containing THC. The reason for this is that THC is toxic to pets and can cause loss of coordination, slow their heart rate, and in some cases, can trigger seizures.


As a caring pet owner, the last thing you want to do is unintentionally harm your best friend. Do your due diligence and make sure the CBD products you give your pets are THC-free.


All of Gaia Provides' products are infused with broad-spectrum CBD extracts, so you and your pet can reap the overall benefits of cannabinoids together without THC.

Make sure an independent third-party lab tests the products you buy!


Since cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, there is no universal mandate for product testing. The current fact is that over 70% of products on the market are not what they claim to be, meaning that the amount of CBD in the product or the actual ingredients do not match the label.


Part of good manufacturing practice involves testing to ensure product quality and safety, so always make sure the company you buy from can provide a certificate of analysis. That way, you know you're consuming a safe product and getting value for your money.


At Gaia Provides, we use a triple testing method to provide proof of quality assurance. We send all batches to reliable U.S. laboratories for post-production testing, which have industry-educated chemists and experienced staff to verify the potency and purity of our products.


 Final Thoughts


As a consumer, you deserve resources and to know exactly what you are putting in your body when you purchase CBD products. There are not enough educational resources in the United States to clarify the subject of cannabis extracts, and the fact that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level further stagnates.


What's more, most doctors are unable to talk about the medicinal value of cannabinoids, the chemical differences between marijuana and cannabis, or how these compounds interact with your body's endocannabinoid system. This is why Gaia Provides has focused a large part of its efforts on educating the public about cannabis.
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