CBD Isolate vs Full-Spectrum CBD: Benefits, Uses, Etc.

CBD Isolate vs Full-Spectrum CBD: Benefits, Uses, Etc.

CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD are among the most popular types of CBD products available today. 

Despite the fact that both feature “CBD” in their names, these two substances couldn’t be much further apart. CBD isolate only contains one active ingredient — CBD — while full spectrum CBD contains hundreds! 

Keep reading to learn more about these products’ pros, cons, and benefits. 

CBD Products: More Than They Seem?

CBD in a beaker - CBD Isolate vs. Full Spectrum CBD

Did you know that the best CBD products contain more than just CBD? 

That might seem counterintuitive…but it’s true. CBD products come from hemp, and hemp produces hundreds of ingredients, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavones: [1]


  • THC
  • THCa
  • CBD
  • CBDa
  • CBG
  • CBGa 
  • CBC
  • CBCa
  • CBT
  • CBL
  • CBN


  • Guaiol
  • Pinene
  • Linalool
  • Limonene 
  • Humulene
  • Terpinolene 
  • Beta-caryophyllene


  • Cannflavin A
  • Cannflavin B

Generally speaking, the best hemp products will harness as much of hemp’s natural power as possible. Why settle for CBD when you can leverage the synergy of CBD, THC, terpenes, flavonoids, and other antioxidants?

CBD types 101

As you might expect from the above info, CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD differ when it comes to their trace ingredients. 

CBD isolate ingredients 

  • 99.9+% pure, crystalline CBD

Yep, that’s right — CBD isolate contains just one ingredient! Because it’s been stripped of its natural plant waxes and esters, CBD isolate takes a powdery or even crystalline form.  

Full spectrum CBD ingredients

  • CBD
  • Trace THC
  • Trace cannabinoids
  • Trace terpenes (usually)
  • Trace flavones (sometimes)

Full spectrum CBD, on the other hand, contains over a dozen active ingredients, including some that are present in barely-quantifiable amounts. But don’t think its trace cannabinoids/terpenes/flavones are inactive. Far from it! Study after study has shown that full spectrum CBD’s trace ingredients are responsible for much of its power. But more on that next…

CBD Isolate vs. Full Spectrum CBD: Benefits

Field of CBD - CBD Isolate vs. Full Spectrum CBD

You may have heard that full spectrum CBD is ‘better’ than CBD isolate, and that may be true in many cases. But the truth is that both types of CBD have their place! 

CBD Isolate Benefits

  • Ultra-pure
  • Non-allergenic
  • Allows for precision dosing
  • Fuels CB2 endocannabinoid receptors

CBD isolate’s purity and potency makes it easy to experience what CBD’s all about. People who are brand new to CBD, people who don’t like the idea of THC, and people with severe allergies are likely to benefit from CBD isolate.  

Full Spectrum CBD Benefits

  • Ultra-potent
  • True to nature
  • Activates the entourage effect
  • Allows for a wide range of optimal dosing
  • Captures the ‘terroir’ of the area it was produced
  • Fuels both CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors

Full spectrum CBD’s biggest strength is its closeness to nature’s original design. Why’s this so important? Because science shows that nature normally knows best! A groundbreaking 2015 study found that the trace ingredients in full spectrum extracts make it up to four times more effective than CBD alone. 

What’s more, full spectrum CBD gets more effective the more you take. Here’s how the study’s authors explained it:

“In stark contrast to CBD [isolate], [full spectrum CBD] provided a clear correlation between the anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive responses and the dose, with increasing responses upon increasing doses, which makes this plant medicine ideal for clinical uses.”

In other good news, “[full spectrum CBD] is superior over [pure] CBD for the treatment of inflammatory conditions.” 

Why? It’s all about compound-to-compound synergy:

“It’s likely that other components in the extract synergize with CBD to achieve the desired anti-inflammatory action that may contribute to overcoming the bell-shaped dose-response of purified CBD.”

CBD Isolate vs. Full Spectrum CBD: Downsides 

Both CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD have potential downsides, however. Here’s a closer look:

CBD Isolate Downsides

  • Doesn’t fuel diverse receptors systems
  • Doesn’t engage the entourage effect
  • Requires precision dosing

CBD isolate isn’t quite as powerful as full spectrum CBD. Plus, it only works when you get your dosing right. Per the same 2015 study, too little CBD isolate may be ineffective; too much CBD isolate may trigger side effects. 

“Healing was only observed when CBD [isolate] was given within a very limited dose range, whereas no beneficial effect was achieved at either lower or higher doses.”

How do you get your dosing right, you may ask? Through trial and error. If you want a CBD product that’s easier to dose, consider full spectrum CBD!

Full Spectrum CBD Downsides

  • Can trigger allergies (extremely rare)
  • May be more expensive than CBD isolate

As you can see, full spectrum CBD doesn’t have many downsides. And the downsides it does have are very rare. 

CBD Isolate vs. Full Spectrum CBD: Summing Things Up

Well, there you have it! Full spectrum CBD is more potent, more powerful, and easier to dose than CBD isolate. It’s simply the best choice in most cases. Here’s what Lumír Hanuš, one of the top scientists involved in the 2015 study, says about trusting in the synergy of full spectrum CBD:

“I can see two different directions [for the future of hemp/cannabis products]. One will focus on production of derivatives of active compounds that could be patented and sold in order to make as much money as possible. The other direction puts patients before profit and focuses on the use of the whole plant and synergistic effects of its compounds.”

But don’t think that CBD isolate doesn’t have a place — it’s definitely the right choice for some people. Consider its pros and cons and you’ll know whether or not it’s right for you.  

Try Alta Ray's CBD Isolate-Based Products

cbd isolate products - alta ray products

Keep in mind that studies on the effects of CBD isolate vs full spectrum CBD are still in their infancy. As are any investigations into how CBD interacts with essential oils from other plants!

Alta Ray's products contain pure CBD isolate alongside several powerful essential oils. Try them for yourself to see how CBD isolate works for you!

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