The types of CBD people can buy online include isolate, broad- and full-spectrum gummies, oils, and topicals. We break down how each CBD type differs and list products for people to consider.

A quick look at the best CBD product types

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

Types of CBD

CBD is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not produce a “high.”

Learn more about the differences between CBD and THC.

Companies that manufacture CBD products use different methods to extract the compound from the plant. The varying diffusions result in a range of CBD types.

There are three types of CBD, containing different compounds and concentrations:

  • Full-spectrum: Includes all parts of the cannabis plant. Full-spectrum products contain less than 0.3% THC
  • Broad-spectrum: This contains most of the cannabis plant compounds. Unlike full-spectrum, broad-spectrum products contain trace amounts of THC. 
  • Isolates: Only contain CBD, with no other cannabinoids or THC. Products that contain isolate CBD may not produce effects as strong as full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD products.

What does the FDA say about CBD products?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that a person may need to consider the potential risks before using CBD for any reason. For example, there is a lack of research on the use of CBD for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and this group may wish to avoid THC.

Federal law allows people to take CBD containing less than 0.3% THC. However, not all states allow brands to sell CBD. A person could check their local laws before buying or taking CBD.

The FDA does not regulate any other claims of benefits. It states that some CBD brands may make misleading claims about the use of their products. The FDA can investigate health claims and safety concerns, and people can use caution before ordering any type of CBD.

The FDA has only approved the use of one CBD product for treatment purposes. In 2018, it approved Epidiolex to treat seizures in three different conditions. A person needs a valid prescription from a doctor to get Epidiolex.

How to choose a CBD product

A person could look for independently tested products. Some companies provide a Certificate of Analysis (COA), which shows the results of third-party testing of the products’ ingredients, dosage, and purity.

People can also consider the dose of CBD in their chosen product. Those new to CBD can start with a small dose and work up, never exceeding the product’s recommended dosage.

Brands will also use different types of CBD, including isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum. Each of these will contain different amounts of THC. However, full-spectrum may produce stronger effects than CBD isolate due to the entourage effect.

Read our guide to buying CBD.

Safety and health considerations

Scientists do not know much about the long-term safety of using CBD products. The FDA warns that current data points to potential risks with taking CBD, which it is still investigating.

However, a 2020 review of studies found that study participants generally tolerated CBD with minimal side effects. The authors also noted that potency and doses varied significantly between studies, making it difficult to determine the effective dose for conditions.

Side effects noted in different studies included:

  • tiredness 
  • changes in weight or appetite
  • diarrhea

CBD may provide several health benefits. According to 2020 research, CBD may help with:

It is important to note that CBD is not a reliable treatment or cure for any of the above conditions. Research into CBD benefits and risks is ongoing.

Learn more about the potential benefits of CBD.

CBD terminology

The table below summarises common terms when discussing CBD:

TermMeaning
CBDA compound within the C. sativa plant that does not create the high sensation individuals commonly associate with cannabis use.
THCA compound in the C. sativa plant. It is the psychoactive compound that creates the high sensation from cannabis use.
Full-spectrumA full-spectrum product will contain all of the natural compounds in the cannabis plant, including THC. However, THC levels must be no more than 0.3% to comply with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation on full-spectrum CBD products.
Broad-spectrumBroad-spectrum products contain natural compounds of the cannabis plant. However, while manufacturers remove all or most of the THC in broad-spectrum CBD, it may still be present in trace amounts.
CBD isolateThis is the purest form of CBD and should contain 0% THC.
CannabinoidsThe compounds within the cannabis plant, of which there are over 120. CBD is the second richest compound in the plant after THC.
TerpenesAnother compound of the C. sativa plant, terpenes typically give plants their specific aromas. Some terpenes, such as limonene, may have specific health benefits.
Certificate of analysis (COA)Reputable manufacturers of CBD products should ensure a COA is available for inspection. A COA provides information on the third-party testing that independent labs conduct on a particular product. Sometimes, products have a scannable smartphone code directing people to the COA online.

Read more about terminology and other important CBD information here.

Forms of CBD products

CBD products come in several forms. The main types of CBD products include:

CBD is also available in many other forms, including capsules and pills, vaping liquid, mist sprays, and more. Some companies also produce CBD products for pets.

Learn more about the different types of products available to buy online below.

CBD oils

CBD oil manufacturers often direct users to place it under the tongue and then swallow. The dose, potency, and price can vary depending on the brand. Dosing can start as low as 5 or 10 milligrams (mg). 

Learn about the best CBD oils.

CBD topicals

Topicals are products that a person applies to the skin. Examples include CBD-infused creams, ointments, lotions, balms, and tinctures.

Potency varies between products. With most topical products, a person needs to rub the product into the desired area, and brands often claim they can help relieve pain and muscle soreness.

Topical CBD products also often include carrier oils and other ingredients in the formula. People with sensitive skin and those concerned about allergic reactions should read ingredient lists carefully.

Learn more about CBD topicals.

CBD gummies and capsules

Gummies contain an edible form of CBD and are available in different shapes, flavors, potencies, and prices. Lower doses tend to start around 5 mg. Capsules involve an individual swallowing the capsule containing CBD.

People interested in using gummies and capsules can start at lower doses and work up to larger doses. However, they should avoid exceeding the recommended dosage for their chosen product.

Since the FDA does not regulate CBD gummies or capsules, a person should use caution when selecting and consuming edible products.

Learn more about hemp and CBD gummies.

Comparing CBD products

The following table compares the CBD products in this article on type, price, strength, and more.

TypeCBD typeStrengthPrice
CBDistilleryoilfull-spectrum500 mg$45
NuLeaf Naturalsoilfull-spectrum900 to 6,000 mg$49 to $249
Joy Organicstopicalbroad-spectrum500 to 1,000 mg$54.95 to $79.95
Sprucetopicalfull-spectrum300 mg$39
CBDfxgummiesbroad-spectrum1,500 to 6,000 mg$54.99 to $114.99
Cornbread Hempgummiesfull-spectrum300 to 1,500 mg$39.99 to $74.99
Medterracapsulesisolate750 mg to 3,000 mg$49.99 to $99.99

How we chose

We selected these CBD products based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency. 

As a part of our vetting process, we consider:

  • the product’s composition, ingredients, and overall quality
  • any third-party certifications
  • the company’s reputation and business practices
  • any lab test results
  • marketing claims

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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Frequently asked questions about types of CBD

The three different types of CBD are full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate. Full-spectrum includes all parts of the cannabis plant, and products contain less than 0.3% of THC. Broad-spectrum CBD includes most of the cannabis plant but not all. It only contains trace amounts of THC. CBD isolate only contains CBD, with no other added cannabinoids. It does not contain any THC.

Full-spectrum CBD is likely to have the strongest effects, and higher doses will have more noticeable effects than low doses.

The type of CBD that is best for a person will vary depending on their needs. The main things to consider when choosing a CBD product include type of CBD, such as full-spectrum or broad-spectrum, form, such as gummies or oils, THC content, and strength.

People could consider what they are using CBD for and decide what type of CBD product would be best for that purpose. For example, if a person has pain in a specific area, they may benefit most from choosing a topical product for targeted pain relief rather than a gummy which will affect the whole body instead of a specific area.

Summary

The CBD types include isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum varieties. Different product forms are available, including topicals, oils, gummies, and more. People can consider the CBD type, strength, and THC content when buying CBD products.

The CBD industry is not regulated, so people must use caution when selecting the CBD product they want. People considering CBD products for treating health conditions can speak with a doctor for advice and recommendations.