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Full-spectrum cannabidiol (CBD) and broad-spectrum CBD are two of the three main types of CBD extract. The main difference between the two relates to the presence of other naturally occurring plant compounds within the extract.

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Is CBD legal? Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are legal federally but still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products, on the other hand, are illegal federally but legal under some state laws. Check local legislation, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved nonprescription CBD products, which may be inaccurately labeled.

CBD is one of many compounds in the cannabis plant. Other than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it is the plant’s most abundant compound.

The main difference between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD is the compounds they contain.

If a CBD product contains several naturally occurring cannabis plant extracts, such as terpenes and other cannabinoids — including up to 0.3% THC — it is full-spectrum CBD.

Broad-spectrum CBD also contains several cannabis plant compounds, but it is typically entirely free of THC. That said, there may sometimes be trace amounts of THC in broad-spectrum CBD products.

CBD isolate is the third common form of CBD. This is the pure form of CBD and contains no other cannabis plant compounds.

However, while these terms do carry some meaning, “CBD” and related terms do not undergo much regulation, so some manufacturers may use the words interchangeably or misuse them.


There are three main ways to extract CBD from the cannabis plant. These are:

  • Carbon dioxide extraction: Uses CO2 to separate CBD oil from the cannabis plant. It is a popular extraction method for CBD products and is capable of successfully producing high concentration CBD.
  • Steam distillation: Manufacturers use steam to help separate the oil from the plant material. It is a popular method for extracting essential plant oils, but it is not as effective as the CO2 method.
  • Solvent extraction: Although this method is effective, it can leave behind solvent residue, which can pose a potential health risk. Solvent extraction can also affect the flavor of the extract.
  • Lipid extraction: This process is gaining popularity, as some companies are now trying to avoid using CO2 and solvents.

After extraction, manufacturers refer to the resulting CBD oil as full spectrum. Hemp-sourced CBD will have a THC concentration of 0.3% or less.

Additionally, the extract must undergo a cooling and purification process to convert it into a CBD isolate product. Further processing leaves behind a crystalline isolate, or CBD crystals.

For more information and resources on CBD and CBD products, please visit our dedicated hub.

Full-spectrum CBD has numerous other cannabinoid compounds from the cannabis plant, along with low levels of THC. Usually, the THC quantities are less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis since this is the federal law requirement for CBD products.

This low quantity of THC is not usually potent enough to cause the “high” that people typically associate with cannabis use.

However, THC levels can increase when manufacturers create concentrate products. For example, some tinctures can contain up to 2 milligrams (mg) per milliliter (ml) of THC, and in some cases, this can cause a euphoric effect.

Full-spectrum CBD also contains terpenes from the cannabis plant. Terpenes tend to give plants their scent.

Research points to the existence of the “entourage effect,” which theorizes that when multiple cannabis plant compounds are present along with CBD extract, it increases the health benefits of the CBD product.

Because full-spectrum products contain compounds, such as THC, in addition to CBD, they may maximize the entourage effect.

Pros of full-spectrum CBD

Some of the potential health effects of CBD include:

  • anti-seizure
  • antioxidant
  • antianxiety
  • pain relief
  • anti-inflammatory

It may also ease the symptoms of some mental health conditions and provide relief from muscle spasms.

One 2018 review also suggests that flavonoids and terpenes in the CBD may also have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects.

Learn more about the potential health benefits of CBD oil.

Cons of full-spectrum CBD

A potential disadvantage of full-spectrum CBD is that in a large enough dose, a person may feel a euphoric high.

Additionally, people who use full-spectrum CBD products may run the risk of returning a positive result on a drug test. One of the drugs that a test screens for is THC, which certain full-spectrum CBD products can contain.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Sunday Scaries Unicorn Jerky CBD Candy

Full-spectrum CBD gummies

This full-spectrum CBD product contains 10 servings of candy, with each piece containing 10 mg of CBD.

This product is not suitable for those with wheat or tree nut allergies.

A portion of each purchase of Sunday Scaries Unicorn Jerky CBD Candy goes to The Trevor Project, a charity that provides advocacy and support for LGBTQIA+ youths.

Sunday Scaries’s certificates of analysis (COA) are available on its website.

At the time of publishing, Sunday Scaries Unicorn Jerky CBD Candy costs $19.

Lazarus Naturals High Potency CBD Tincture

Full-spectrum CBD tincture

This organic full-spectrum CBD oil contains 50 mg of CBD per ml.

The company recommends people start with a 50 mg dose and wait 2 hours to feel the full effects. The product is reportedly suitable for serving sizes of 25–200 mg.

However, this product is not suitable for those with a tree nut allergy. The company recommends speaking with a doctor before using the product if a healthcare professional has advised against ingesting grapefruit.

Lazarus Naturals’s COA is available on its website.

At the time of publishing, prices for Lazarus Natural High Potency CBD Tincture start from $24.

Broad-spectrum CBD products also contain additional compounds from the cannabis plant, including cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene, and terpenes.

Pros of broad-spectrum CBD

CBN may have the following potential health effects:

  • antibiotic
  • anti-seizure
  • anti-inflammatory

While most broad-spectrum CBD products do not contain THC, some may have trace amounts.

Like full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD products may also have some additional health benefits due to the resulting entourage effect.

Cons of broad-spectrum CBD

A potential disadvantage of broad-spectrum CBD is that it does not contain THC. This may mean it does not have as many benefits as full-spectrum CBD.

Additionally, people who use CBD products run the risk of returning a positive on a drugs test. Broad-spectrum CBD may have trace amounts of THC, which may show up on these screenings.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Joy Organics CBD Gummies

Broad-spectrum CBD gummies

These cruelty-free, broad-spectrum gummies contain 0.0% THC.

Each serving contains 10 mg of CBD.

Joy Organics recommends a person start with half a gummy and increase the dosage as necessary. The company has COAs available on its website.

At the time of publishing, Joy Organics CBD Gummies cost $39.95.

Holmes Organic CBD Oil Tincture

Broad-spectrum CBD tincture

This organic, broad-spectrum oil tincture does not contain any THC.

Each serving contains 15–30 mg of CBD.

Holmes Organic recommends taking this product by mouth, mixing it with food, or using it in recipes.

The company includes a QR code on the product’s packaging. People can scan this code to check the product’s COA.

At the time of publishing, Holmes Organic CBD Oil Tincture costs $49.95.

CBD isolate only contains CBD and does not have any additional compounds from the cannabis plant.

Learn more about CBD isolate.

Pros of CBD isolate

People who wish to avoid THC altogether may prefer using CBD isolate products.

With CBD isolate, a person can determine if CBD alone eases their ailments effectively, as there are no other active compounds present that may interfere or interact with its effects.

Cons of CBD isolate

However, as mentioned above, evidence suggests that using CBD products containing multiple cannabis plant compounds may produce more prominent results from the entourage effect. Additionally, CBD isolate products may not provide the same benefits.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Pure Relief Gummy Bears

CBD isolate gummies high-strength

These vegan CBD isolate gummies do not contain any THC.

Each gummy contains 30 mg of CBD.

Pure Relief recommends taking one gummy and waiting 1 hour to feel the effects. A person can then increase the dosage.

The company provides COAs for its products on its website.

At the time of publishing, Pure Relief Gummy Bears cost $59.99.

Green Gorilla Organic CBD Gummies

CBD isolate gummies low-strength

These organic CBD isolate gummies do not contain any THC.

Each gummy contains 10 mg of CBD.

Green Gorilla recommends taking one gummy and waiting to feel the effects. A person can then increase the dosage if necessary.

The company also provides COAs for its products on its website.

At the time of publishing, Green Gorilla Organic CBD Gummies has a list price of $59.99.

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Ingredients: Products contain safe and high quality ingredients, and state all ingredients clearly.
  • Dosage: Products contain or recommend a serving size of a safe CBD dosage. Dosage is clearly stated.
  • Lab results: Products are from brands that make their testing results publicly available.
  • Third-party labs: Products undergo third-party testing for contaminants.

People who do not wish to use a product containing THC may prefer to use CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD. However, while most broad-spectrum CBD products do not have any THC, some may contain trace amounts.

People interested in products with THC may prefer to use full-spectrum CBD.

People should always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when using CBD products.

Some general guidelines include:

  • Edibles: People chew or swallow edible CBD products, such as gummies and capsules. Companies will provide instructions on how many edibles to take on the product’s packaging.
  • Topicals: Individuals rub topical CBD products, such as creams and lotions, on their skin. Some topical CBD products are available as transdermal patches, which a person places on their skin.
  • Sublingual products: People place sublingual CBD products, such as oils and tinctures, underneath their tongues. Companies will provide instructions on using these products on the packaging.

However, as the CBD industry has no established guidelines for CBD dosing, it is also a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional with working expertise in cannabis. They can advise on the safety and dosage of CBD products.

CBD product labels inform people of the ingredients, strength, and dosage of the product. It is also important to ensure a product has a current COA.

CBD ingredients

CBD products will contain either full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate. They may also include cannabinoids and terpenes.

There are over 100 different cannabinoids, including THC and cannabidiol. Cannabinoids may help with certain conditions, such as chronic pain and multiple sclerosis.

Terpenes are aromatic compounds that provide scent and flavor.

CBD strength and dosage

Companies will often display a CBD product’s strength in large letters in the product description and packaging.

They will also often display the strength per dose on the product label. For CBD gummies, a person can divide the total strength by the number of gummies in the packaging to calculate the strength per dose.


It is important to purchase CBD products that have a current COA. A COA means that the product has undergone testing by a third party to ensure the label is accurate and the product is safe to use.

Many companies provide their COAs online. However, if the COA is not available online, a person can email the company to receive a copy.

While CBD is generally safe and people tolerate the substance well, it can cause the following side effects:

  • changes in alertness, such as drowsiness
  • diarrhea
  • increase in appetite
  • changes in mood, such as irritability and agitation

People may also experience unexpected side effects. The use of CBD can lead to liver failure and can interact with other medications.

A person who requires regular medication should always tell their doctor if they use any CBD products.

Below are some frequently asked questions about CBD products.

Is CBD legal?

Hemp-derived CBD is legal federally. However, it may be illegal under some state laws.

In contrast, cannabis-derived CBD is illegal federally but legal under some state laws.

With this in mind, people should check the laws of the state they are residing in, or traveling to, before purchasing and consuming CBD products.

Are CBD products FDA-approved?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently approve any CBD products apart from Epidiolex, an anti-seizure medication.

The agency advises people that CBD products available to buy, such as gummies, oils, and lotions, have not undergone FDA evaluation to determine what doses are safe and whether the products cause any side effects.

Can CBD help with symptoms of health conditions?

Although much research in CBD is still in the early stages, many people are eager to try CBD products. Anecdotal evidence suggests some individuals have found CBD helpful in relieving ailments such as anxiety and pain.

One 2018 study revealed that 62% of participants who take CBD use it for medical symptoms, including pain, depression, and anxiety.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states there is some evidence that CBD can help with certain conditions or symptoms, including:

  • Pain: There is some evidence CBD can provide a small benefit to those experiencing pain. However, the quality of this research is low or moderate.
  • Anxiety: CBD products may help reduce anxiety symptoms, including those of social anxiety disorder.
  • Tourette’s syndrome: There is some evidence that THC capsules can reduce tic severity in people with this condition.
  • Multiple sclerosis: CBD products may help reduce spasticity in individuals with multiple sclerosis. Spasticity causes an increase in muscle tone or muscle stiffness, which can cause discomfort and pain and interfere with movement and speech.

Although the current evidence suggests that full- and broad-spectrum CBD products may be more effective than CBD isolate, more research is necessary.

It is possible that the presence of additional cannabis plant compounds may increase the effects of CBD products. However, because there is no current regulation of the terms “broad spectrum,” “full spectrum,” and “isolate,” it can be challenging to determine a CBD product’s exact contents.

People interested in trying CBD to ease various ailments, such as pain and anxiety, should research manufacturers that engage in third-party laboratory testing.

Individuals looking to try CBD should also speak with a doctor first, as these products may have some side effects and drug interactions.