Full Spectrum vs Isolate: Which Is Better?

You’ve probably heard of CBD vs THC, but did you know that there are different forms of CBD? Even though most studies focus on THC and CBD exclusively, there are still 111 more cannabinoids found in hemp plants! When scientists first started researching hemp they extracted CBD and tested its effects in isolation since it was the most prominent cannabinoid within the plant. This led to the belief that CBD was most beneficial in its concentrated state otherwise called isolate.  Hemp oil studies continued until 2015 when one study by the Lautenberg Center for General Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem dethroned CBD isolate’s kingly status. Researchers compared the effects of CBD isolate with full spectrum CBD and found that the study group that was administered full spectrum CBD had greater symptom relief.

            In many ways, you can compare CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD oil to taking only Vitamin C vs taking a multivitamin. Vitamin C does provide benefit but the full range of compounds in a multivitamin boosts overall health while also giving you Vitamin C, and in return the boost to overall health strengths the immune system even further. In a nearly identical way, full spectrum oil brings all the beauty and complexity of hemp-based cannabinoids together to provide you with the multivitamin equivalent to your endocannabinoid system.  

 What Is The Difference BetweenFull Spectrum CBD vs CBD Isolate

How Full Spectrum CBD Works: The Endocannabinoid System

            The endocannabinoid system exists in all of our central nervous systems, and even in many of our pets. That means your pets can benefit from CBD oil too, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We attribute CBD oil benefits because we know that the endocannabinoid system impacts:

  • Mood management and emotional responses
  • Inflammation and the immune system
  • Pain perception and pain response management
  • Cell-protection and muscle function
  • Learning and memory
  • Digestion and metabolism
  • The cardiovascular/circulatory systems
  • Body temperature regulation
  • The reproductive processes


            Of course, other bodily systems affect these areas as well, but with hemp now more culturally accepted we can begin to see how the cannabinoid receptors might provide greater relief than traditional medicine for treating ailments related to these areas.

            CBD and THC are the most well-known compounds, but what are the other cannabinoids in full spectrum oil? Here are some of the other compounds that are found in relatively high quantities in hemp oil along with their reported mechanisms:


  • CBDA which is thought to inhibit cancer cell growth (note, this does not mean it’s a “cure” but rather it might be effective in treatment alongside other traditional treatment options)
  • CBCA which produces an anti-inflammatory response
  • CBC known for anti-inflammatory response, it also helps inhibit cancer cell growth, and evokes a pain relief effect
  • CBG which acts as a sleep aid and slows bacteria growth


            And that’s just scratching the surface. As these different cannabinoids bind to different receptors they helpfully activate the endocannabinoid system to ensure it’s providing its maximum potential benefit. If your brain is a processor then CBD helps activate just one core which is great, but full spectrum hemp oil allows all the endocannabinoid receptors to activate creating a broader response that will amplify the effects of each of the individual components just like a multivitamin boosting immune health. Even though CBD is the most prevalent cannabinoid in hemp, the other cannabinoids act in synergy to help users. This is called the Entourage Effect and we see it in other areas of health outside of the compounds in hemp as well.  

            The brain evolved to utilize cannabinoids in this broad spectrum rather than using just CBD in isolation, so using full spectrum CBD oil is close to what nature intended and it produces a more natural response in the brain. The result is a holistic oil that strengthens the effects of CBD while still minimizing THC which is an added bonus since you won’t be getting the psychoactive high you would get from cannabis. Even though there are a staggering 113 cannabinoids present in the hemp plant, CBD and the vast majority of these other compounds are non-intoxicating especially at the levels present within full spectrum oil. You might look at the list of cannabinoids and think, “I want to maximize the compounds that have the biggest benefit to me. I don’t need the rest.” But that’s what scientists tried to do with CBD isolate and it can be effective in certain conditions, but if you stick to full spectrum oil your body will thank you.

            Importantly, the dose of CBD does not impact its potential benefit. Just like certain financial investments, CBD isolate has diminishing returns. While higher doses of CBD isolate don’t increase the benefit, the study found that full spectrum CBD did continue to provide symptom relief even as the dose increased. People with heavy pain might only get temporary pain relief from CBD isolate, whereas those with minor pain might see total symptom relief. But, full spectrum CBD is great news for people who suffer from chronic pain because it can be dosed lower for people with minor pain or it can be dosed higher to alleviate the elevated pain that they experience. Full spectrum CBD can bridge the gap between natural herbal remedies and science, giving the benefits of both worlds without compromising the essence of the plant.

            Though full spectrum is more beneficial in many ways, CBD isolate can be effective and is especially beneficial in countries that prohibit hemp. Full spectrum CBD oil is the leading frontier of pain management so if you’re curious, “is CBD oil legal?” we’ll answer that question a bit later on.

Goldleaf Spektrum - high quality full spectrum CBD Oil

Types of CBD Products

            CBD isolate is usually found in powdered or crystallized forms, but it can also be sold as an oil. In any of its forms it is colorless and tasteless, and, as a result, CBD isolate is a great candidate for cooking since it can be mixed into batter or drinks. Though it might not bake in as seamlessly as a flour or the like it won’t add flavor to your dishes. CBD isolate is easily measurable and is usually labeled with exact cannabinoid percentages which means more control over the exact CBD dosage for cooking or customized daily inclusion. It’s often cheaper than full spectrum CBD, but that cost reduction is because you’re not getting a complete product; instead, you’re getting a fraction of the full capabilities that hemp has to offer.

            Full spectrum hemp oil is typically sold as an oil tincture. It can be consumed directly in that form or applied to the skin for epidermal absorption. You can use that oil to make many unique applications such as lotions, time-release patches, soft-gel capsules, even gummies or other simple treats. You can even use CBD oil for pets since they have cannabinoid receptors too! The tinctures of full spectrum CBD can make it a great choice for your vape pen as long as the heat settings are enough to vaporize the liquid without burning it since combustion can alter the cannabinoids and change or reduce their effects.

            Some full spectrum oils can even contain extracted vitamins, minerals, proteins, natural flavonoids, fiber, and terpenes. Terpenes are the organic compounds that give pine needles their distinctive smell and help derive the taste of other plants and teas. Terpenes are also found in hemp, and certain full spectrum CBD products can contain these terpenes to add a layer of sensory connection to the medicine beyond the sterile additive flavorings of commercial pharmaceuticals. While not essential to the health effects of CBD, some companies can add terpenes to their products. Don’t like the thought of tasting or smelling the hemp plant?  Don’t worry, not all Full Spectrum CBD oils contain these compounds. Goldleaf is the gold-standard of natural extracts and contains only what is necessary to give you the best in full spectrum CBD. So, while both CBD isolate and full spectrum products have their individual uses, think of it like painting: why use just one color when you have a full rainbow at your fingertips?

Is CBD Oil Legal In The U.S.

Is CBD Oil Legal?

            This brings us to one of the most important and commonly asked questions regarding the two products. Fear not, it’s pretty simple. A few years ago, the 2014 Farm Bill was passed and it was a landmark bill that allowed small pilot programs to cultivate hemp under serious restrictions and for extremely limited purposes. While this was a major step up from the total blanket illegality of all hemp brought on by the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, the old Farm Bill still kept huge restrictions on hemp.

            Just last year the 2018 Farm Bill was passed and opened up a whole new avenue for health enthusiasts who want to take control of their treatment process and medication. This allowed hemp to be more broadly cultivated, and it can even be transferred across state lines for commercial or other uses. But, what’s most important is the clause that states there are now no restrictions on the sale, transport, or possession of hemp-derived products so long as those items are lawfully produced based on the stipulations of the bill.

            CBD products do have some restrictions, for instance, legal CBD products must be produced from hemp which is defined in the bill as plants that do not contain more than 0.3% THC. This is a stark difference from commercially grown medical cannabis which can have THC percentages ranging in upwards of 30%. This means that hemp contains 100% less THC than some forms of cannabis which translates to hemp-based CBD products designed for medicine without psychoactive effects.

            Under the 2018 Farm Bill each state must submit agricultural plans to the USDA and be approved in order to allow licensed growers to produce hemp and CBD products. Although hemp can’t be grown as freely as potatoes this bill offers a gateway for personal and industrial hemp cultivation the likes of which haven’t been seen in the United States for well over 50 years.

            In short, CBD isolate and full spectrum oils are legal if and only if the hemp that produced it is compliant with the 2018 Farm Bill, federal regulations, state regulations, and by a licensed grower. This bill also has a goal to produce more research on hemp oil benefits, and fewer restrictions mean more studies will be done on CBD, hemp, and every cannabinoid and their potential benefits. So stay tuned for more articles to keep you informed and healthy in the full spectrum world.

High End Full Spectrum CBD Oil

The Goldleaf Standard

            Not only is Goldleaf the best place to buy CBD oil, but it is also a great place to learn about hemp and CBD products. Even though isolated CBD hemp oil contains a higher concentration of CBD it might not be the best product for you. It’s important to find the full spectrum product that has the right balance for you. You’re unique and everyone’s at different physical and mental places in each of our lives, and as our bodies grow and change our needs change as well. So whether you’re using CBD oil for pain or you’re curious about CBD health benefits, or whether you plan to use tinctures or a vape pen be sure to try a variety of full spectrum CBD products within your budget to find the perfect puzzle piece to fit your personal chemistry and elevate your life above the anxiety and pain that’s holding you back.


Article by Joshua Moynan


1 comment

Diane Brickley-Conklin

This article was very informative and well written.

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