Broad Spectrum vs Full Spectrum CBD: Accuracy and Benefits

Broad Spectrum vs Full Spectrum CBD: Accuracy and Benefits

Many people prefer broad spectrum CBD products because they contain a variety of useful compounds, but no THC. But is “broad spectrum CBD” an accurate term?

When people talk about their preferred spectrum of CBD, they usually make their case by talking about the entourage effect. Many people prefer broad spectrum CBD because it contains a variety of useful compounds with no detectable THC. Others tout full spectrum CBD because they want to experience the benefits of the whole cannabis plant.

But there’s a problem with these terms. They’re not accurate.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on “broad spectrum CBD,” but the information we present translates to many questions about the term “full spectrum CBD” as well.

So let’s take a deeper look at what people mean when they describe a product as broad spectrum CBD, what it actually is, how to avoid confusion, and other points you should know.

What Do People Mean When They Say Broad Spectrum CBD?

When CBD users, product makers, and journalists discuss the benefits of CBD, they often draw a distinction between the different spectrums. But what are the spectrums exactly? Why do so many people choose broad spectrum over full spectrum? And finally, what is Superior Broad Spectrum CBD?

A colorful diagram shows the chemical composition of full spectrum and broad spectrum cbd

What are the CBD Spectrums?

Most consumer CBD products are made with extracts from hemp. In the United States, federal law defines hemp as a cannabis plant that contains 0.3 percent THC (the stuff in marijuana that causes intoxication) or less.

The spectrums describe what level of refinement hemp extracts go through before they are placed in a product – like CBD oil tinctures, gummies, or topicals.

Full spectrum CBD products contain what many describe as whole plant extracts. In other words, you’ll find all of the substances extracted from the plant in the product. Full spectrum products include CBD, a variety of cannabinoids (including THC), flavonoids, and terpenes.

Broad spectrum CBD undergoes a refinement process to remove THC content, but still contains a range of other compounds. The process that strips away THC may also remove some other substances.

There are also some specialized broad spectrum extracts, like cbdMD’s Superior Broad Spectrum CBD products. We’ll discuss that in detail later.

Check out our article “The Complete Guide to How CBD Oil is Made” for more information.

Why Do People Choose Broad Spectrum?

People typically choose broad spectrum CBD when they have personal concerns about ingesting THC. Some employers and athletic commissions strictly prohibit THC use in any form – even when the product contains a federally legal amount and doesn’t cause intoxication.

When made properly, broad spectrum products do not contain detectable levels of THC. And trustworthy companies that make these kinds of products should provide independent, third-party lab results that verify they’re THC-free.*

What Is Superior Broad Spectrum? What Makes It Different?

Traditional full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD oils often contain inconsistent levels of non-CBD cannabis compounds. While each batch may provide the same level of CBD, other cannabinoid content can fluctuate.

cbdMD’s Superior Broad Spectrum CBD formula solves this problem through a proprietary process. As a result, each product batch should always contain the same cannabinoid levels.

A large cannabis plant is overlaid with bright rainbow colors

Why is the Term Broad Spectrum CBD Inaccurate?

As is the case with many language questions, the devil is in the details. And while the phrase “broad spectrum CBD” is commonly understood among CBD enthusiasts, it’s not technically correct. Let’s break down why the term isn’t accurate, the correct, by-the-book terms, and why CBD companies use a term that isn’t scientifically accurate.

Why Isn’t It Accurate?

CBD is just one of many compounds you’ll find in broad spectrum products. Along with CBD, they contain multiple cannabinoids (CBG and CBN, for example) and a variety of other plant substances.

As a result, CBD can’t really be broad spectrum since it’s a singular substance.

In another example, you wouldn’t describe a peppermint extract as full spectrum menthol. Yes, menthol is the dominant compound we detect when we taste it or rub it on our skin, but you’d still call it a peppermint extract.

With that said, there are some CBD isolate products out there that do not contain any other cannabis-derived compounds. But they’re not described as a “spectrum.”

What’s the Most Accurate Term?

As we stated earlier, most of the CBD products for sale online and in stores contain extracts from hemp – a variety of cannabis that contains 0.3 percent THC or less.

Like the peppermint example above, broad spectrum hemp extract more accurately describes the array of compounds found in the goods with which Americans have become familiar.

In fact, if you look at the back panel of cbdMD’s Superior Broad Spectrum CBD products, you’ll notice that the ingredients list features “Hemp Extract” from the flowers and aerial parts of the plant.

And behind the scenes in laboratories and other scientific settings, you’ll certainly hear the term “broad spectrum hemp extract” more than anything else.

The chemical composition of thc and cbd stands beside a mature cannabis plant

Why Do CBD Companies Use the Term Broad Spectrum CBD If It’s Not Accurate?

First and foremost, it’s a phrase consumers have become familiar with, even if it’s not exactly accurate. But there’s another reason as well.

Unfortunately, some sellers use certain words and phrases to confuse consumers. There are numerous companies selling hemp seed oil under the guise of “hemp extracts” or “hemp oil.” But hemp seeds are not a good source for CBD. It's only abundant in mature plant parts like the flowers or leaves.

You’ll frequently find products of this type on big ecommerce sites like Amazon and eBay, and they rarely contain any cannabinoids. And there’s one big reason for that. Those sites do not allow the sale of CBD. As a result, terms like hemp extracts or hemp oil are usually a sign of mislabeled or otherwise fake products.

Though it’s not scientifically correct, companies that make true broad spectrum products refer to their products as broad spectrum CBD. That way, consumers can be assured they’re getting what they pay for.

What Else Should I Know?

No matter which kind of CBD product you use, there are a few things that are universal. You should always know exactly how much CBD is in a product, understand how cannabinoids like CBD work with your body, and know how and where the goods are made. It’s also important to involve your doctor in your decision-making process.

A bottle of 300 mg cbd oil and 500 mg cbd pm capsules from cbdmd sit on a nightstand

How Can I Be Sure of the CBD Content?

All reputable CBD product makers provide third-party batch tests that clearly spell out how much CBD is in the product. If the amount varies slightly from the label, that’s okay. But it’s a bad sign when you see large differences, especially when the CBD content deviates more than 20 percent from the advertised amount.

These lab reports should also detail the levels of any other cannabinoids, and show that the product passed inspection for contaminants.

How Do Cannabinoids Work with My Body?

Cannabinoids like CBD act on a specialized network of cellular receptors called the endocannabinoid system. Each cannabinoid influences these cells in a different way.

Researchers are still figuring all of this out, but we know that these cannabinoid receptors are found in the nervous, digestive, and immune systems among others.

The common wisdom says that CBD isn’t something you use situationally. It can take time for it to build in your system, so you’ll get the most out of CBD when you use it every day.

How Can I Know the Product is Made Properly?

All CBD product makers should follow good manufacturing practices (GMP) and provide some kind of verification. GMP are a standardized set of rules for producing, packaging, and storing a product to avoid contamination, spoilage, and other issues.

Many CBD brands claim to use GMP in their production and warehousing process, but few can back it up.

On the other hand, cbdMD’s facilities are registered for GMP through NSF International (the gold standard) and inspected twice each year.

Talk to Your Doctor

Whether you intend to use full or broad spectrum CBD (or hemp extract) products, you should always speak with your doctor first. Nothing can substitute for a physician’s personalized advice.