Full Spectrum Vs. Broad Spectrum CBD: What's the Difference?

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Purchasing CBD can sometimes be unnecessarily difficult, especially for those new to the product. One of the key aspects to understand is the extraction process, which can significantly impact the quality and effectiveness of the final product. There are different methods of extracting CBD, including CO2 extraction, ethanol extraction, and oil infusion, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Additionally, older consumers need to be aware of the differences between Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum CBD. Full Spectrum CBD contains all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds found in the cannabis plant, including trace amounts of THC. Broad Spectrum CBD, on the other hand, includes a range of cannabinoids and terpenes but has had the THC completely removed. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for older adults to make informed choices that best suit their individual health needs and legal considerations.

Full Spectrum & Broad Spectrum CBD Extraction Methods:

The extraction process begins with the cannabis plant being subjected to one of the following methods. This step involves the careful separation of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other beneficial compounds from the plant material.

CO₂ Extraction:

This method utilizes carbon dioxide under high pressure and low temperatures to extract CBD and other cannabinoids. It is considered one of the cleanest and most efficient extraction methods, preserving the integrity of the plant compounds.

Ethanol Extraction:

Ethanol extraction involves soaking the cannabis plant in ethanol to extract cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. This method is widely used due to its simplicity and effectiveness, although it may extract unwanted substances like chlorophyll if not done correctly.

Hydrocarbon Extraction:

Using solvents like butane or propane, hydrocarbon extraction can effectively pull out cannabinoids and terpenes. While efficient, this method requires careful handling to ensure no residual solvents remain in the final product, which could pose health risks. This method is less common for Broad Spectrum CBD due to the need for further processing to remove all traces of THC.

Full Spectrum & Broad Spectrum CBD Post-Extraction Methods

Winterization and Filtration:

Winterization is a purification process that removes fats, waxes, and chlorophyll from the crude extract. This step is essential for producing a cleaner, higher-quality oil. The outcome of winterization and filtration is a purer oil that is more potent and free from unwanted plant materials, which can affect the taste and texture of the final product


Decarboxylation involves heating the crude extract to activate the cannabinoids. Cannabinoids in their raw form (e.g., CBDA and THCA) are not fully effective until they undergo decarboxylation, which converts them into their active forms (CBD and THC).

Final Product:

The final product is a potent oil that contains a full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other beneficial compounds. Full Spectrum CBD retains all naturally occurring compounds from the cannabis plant, including trace amounts of THC (typically less than 0.3%). Whereas, Broad Spectrum CBD contains multiple cannabinoids and terpenes but no detectable THC, offering a balanced and effective option for users.

THC Removal in Broad Spectrum CBD:

The extraction and post-extraction processes for CBD are largely consistent across Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum CBD products. Both types aim to harness the beneficial compounds from the cannabis plant, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, while ensuring the purity and potency of the final product. The key distinction between Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum CBD lies in the additional step Broad Spectrum undergoes to remove THC.

The defining characteristic of Broad Spectrum CBD is the removal of THC, achieved through advanced post-extraction processes. This ensures that the final product contains no detectable levels of THC while retaining a broad range of other cannabinoids and terpenes.


Chromatography is a sophisticated technique used to isolate and remove THC. Here’s how it works:


The winterized and decarboxylated extract is prepared for chromatography by dissolving it in a suitable solvent.


The solution is passed through a chromatographic column filled with a medium that interacts differently with each compound. As the solution moves through the column, the compounds separate based on their chemical properties.


THC is selectively isolated and removed from the mixture. Advanced chromatographic methods, such as High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), allow for precise separation and removal of THC.

Additional Filtration and Distillation

After chromatography, further filtration and distillation steps ensure the complete removal of THC.


The extract undergoes additional filtration to remove any remaining THC particles and other unwanted residues. This step enhances the purity of the final product.


Distillation further refines the extract by separating compounds based on their boiling points. This process ensures that all detectable THC is removed, leaving a broad spectrum of other cannabinoids and terpenes intact.

Final Product: Broad Spectrum CBD

The result of these meticulous processes is Broad Spectrum CBD oil, which retains the therapeutic benefits of multiple cannabinoids and terpenes without the presence of THC. This makes it an ideal choice for individuals who seek the entourage effect without any psychoactive effects or legal concerns associated with THC.

Benefits and Uses of Full Spectrum CBD:

Full Spectrum CBD is often regarded for its "entourage effect," where the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes work synergistically to enhance therapeutic benefits. This holistic approach leverages the natural interplay between these compounds to create more pronounced effects than when used individually. People commonly use Full Spectrum CBD for a wide range of health issues, including pain, anxiety, and improving sleep quality. It is particularly valued for its potential to address chronic pain and inflammation, providing a natural alternative to traditional pain management methods. Additionally, Full Spectrum CBD is known to help with stress management, mood stabilization, and overall mental well-being. Its use in improving sleep quality is notable, as it can promote deeper and more restful sleep, making it a popular choice for those struggling with insomnia or other sleep disorders. This comprehensive benefit profile makes Full Spectrum CBD a versatile and effective option for various health concerns.

Benefits and Uses of Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad Spectrum CBD provides the benefits of multiple cannabinoids working together without the presence of THC. This formulation is ideal for older adults who seek the therapeutic advantages of cannabinoids and terpenes but are sensitive to THC or wish to avoid it for legal or personal reasons. Broad Spectrum CBD retains a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes, enhancing the overall effectiveness through the entourage effect. This means that the combined presence of these compounds works synergistically to provide a more comprehensive therapeutic benefit compared to CBD isolate, which contains only cannabidiol.

Individuals who are subject to drug testing or those living in areas with strict THC regulations can safely use Broad Spectrum CBD without the risk of consuming even trace amounts of THC. Moreover, it is particularly beneficial for active adults who experience adverse reactions to THC, such as anxiety or dizziness, allowing them to enjoy the benefits of CBD without unwanted side effects. Whether used for pain, anxiety, or general wellness, Broad Spectrum CBD offers a balanced and potent option, ensuring users receive the maximum benefits of cannabis-derived compounds while adhering to personal and legal preferences.

Understanding the extraction processes for Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum CBD is essential for making informed decisions about which type is best suited to individual needs and preferences. Choosing the right type of CBD depends on personal preferences, health goals, and any legal or sensitivity concerns regarding THC. By understanding the extraction process and the unique properties of Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum CBD, older consumers can better navigate the diverse and growing market of CBD products, ensuring they select the most appropriate and effective option for their needs.

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