Full Spectrum CBD, Broad Spectrum CBD, Isolate, and PCR: Decoding the Difference
When you begin your CBD journey, you may find the options and terminology to be overwhelming. This helpful guide from Made By Hemp breaks down the various forms of CBD so you can find the form that will work best for you.
This article first appeared on MadeByHemp.com.
The potential benefits of CBD are a prominent topic of research and discussion. As we explain the effects of CBD, it is important to discuss the different types of extracts. Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from the hemp plant in a variety of forms. The type of extract used in a product is shown to impact the effect CBD has on the body, and it’s important for every CBD user to understand the differences between them.
Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, Isolate, and PCR Oil are four common forms of CBD extract. They vary in the type of cannabinoids and synergistic plant extracts they contain. To help you find and choose the right product for your needs, we’ll look closely at each type of extract, understand the differences between them and discover how these differences influence the intake of CBD.
CBD isolate is cannabidiol in its purest form. To produce this extract, CBD is isolated and then refined to strip out any additional cannabinoids, terpenes, and plant components found in the hemp plant. The final product is a fine white powder that contains around 99% cannabidiol.
Isolates contain only one cannabinoid: CBD. This means that CBD isolate does not contain any THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid responsible for getting you “high”, making CBD isolate a perfect option for those who seek a THC-free product.
Isolate has no taste or odor and can be used to formulate many varieties of CBD products, such as edibles and topicals. Since CBD isolate is around 99% pure, you have control over exactly how much is added to a product (a milligram of CBD isolate equates to about a milligram of CBD).
When it comes to products like vape juice or tinctures, it’s easy to recognize them as made with CBD isolate if the color is very clear. Although, other ingredients can be added that darken the liquid.
PCR – Phytocannabinoid Rich
Phytocannabinoid Rich or PCR is a term that’s most often used to describe hemp oil containing a wide array of different cannabinoids and zero THC. In other words, PCR is a common alternative term for broad spectrum hemp oil. However, it’s important to note that PCR is often used loosely and could refer to a full spectrum product, which contains up to 0.3% THC.
Full Spectrum or Whole Plant Hemp Extract
Full Spectrum or whole plant hemp extract keeps the full properties of the hemp plant intact. In addition to CBD, this extract includes terpenes, cannabinoids, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, phytonutrients and any other materials that are extracted from the hemp plant. The hemp plant naturally contains over 100 cannabinoids that, similar to CBD, provide their own unique benefit.
The full spectrum extract contains all of the available benefits within the hemp material. By keeping all of the plant components, whole plant hemp extract benefits from the synergistic properties between the components. Scientists have found that plant components interact with one another to create an enhanced effect (compared to the component alone).
According to a theory known as the entourage effect, CBD and other components of hemp work together to improve absorption and effect in the body. These compounds influence each other’s function for a sum greater than its parts.
Since the natural cannabinoids remain intact, whole plant hemp extract contains small levels of THC. However, in order to be considered hemp, whole plant hemp extract must have less than 0.3% THC. This is a trace amount that does not create a high.
Broad Spectrum CBD is basically full spectrum CBD, containing an array of cannabinoids and terpenes, except it doesn’t contain THC. It’s a great option if you want to maximize the benefits of CBD isolate but without the risk of failing a drug test. Broad Spectrum CBD is created by putting products through an additional process to isolate and eliminate traces of THC while still preserving the other natural cannabinoids and terpenes. Because multiple cannabinoids and other compounds are preserved in Broad Spectrum CBD, it can provide the enhanced benefits of the entourage effect, without the psychoactive effects of THC.
An example of this is the Hemp Oil Care tincture, which is full-spectrum but is THC-free. Let us explain the process of manufacturing this product.
Shop THC-free broad spectrum CBD oil »
The Hemp Oil Care tincture starts as a full-spectrum oil. There are various methods of extracting full-spectrum hemp oil from the hemp plant. While CO2 extraction is deemed the cleanest method, other methods, such as solvent extraction, may be utilized. However extracted, the final product will be an oil with varying amounts of THC no greater than 0.3%.
At this point, most manufacturers would combine this oil with several other ingredients or use as is. Using technology called centrifugal partition chromatography (CPC), the manufacturer of the Hemp Oil Care tincture takes an additional step.
CPC is a tool for purifying cannabis extracts. CPC technology separates each compound to remove unwanted compounds, such as THC.
During CPC, raw oil is run through a centrifuge. The oil is pushed through a series of cells that contain a mixture of liquids such as water, methanol, or heptane. Each compound diffuses into one of the liquids depending on their affinity to it; the compounds separate into different cells along the way. The compact CPC unit uses over one thousand extraction cells in a high-speed spinning disk pack to separate and purify the desired compound. Each cell increases the purity of the desired compound until a high purity product is created.
Additional CBD isolate is added to the final product to increase the potency.
THC or no THC?
If CPC technology is available, you may be wondering why all products are not THC-free. THC, the intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant, raises concern for those who do not wish to experience the intoxicating effects of marijuana or must partake in routine drug testing.
While beneficial for these reasons, THC is also being studied for its interaction with CBD in what we have referred to as the entourage effect.
A Note About Broad Spectrum CBD or THC-Free Full-Spectrum Products
Please note not all products with a label saying full-spectrum or THC-free will be manufactured in this manner. We suggest you be wary of products that claim to be full-spectrum and THC-free. Many times, a THC-free “full-spectrum” product contains only CBD isolate. When in doubt, reference the manufacturer’s COA to determine the levels of cannabinoids in the product.
With CBD isolates, you receive the sole benefits of cannabidiol. In comparison, full spectrum or whole plant hemp extract provides the synergistic benefits of the whole hemp plant, while PCR and broad spectrum CBD allows you to enjoy the health benefits of cannabinoids without the psychoactive effects of THC. Whether you choose CBD isolate, PCR, full spectrum or broad spectrum is dependent upon your health goals. All have proven benefit in certain instances.
As the scientific community learns more about CBD, we are beginning to understand how CBD interacts with the body along with other plant components.