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Types of CBD: A Simple User’s Guide

Types of CBD

It’s no joke. There are hundreds of CBD products that can easily be bought over the counter or from an internet store in almost every state in the USA, with the UK and Australia following suit not far behind. The “Green Rush” has prompted every entrepreneur and venture capitalist to seek a quick buck in the CBD market, and the net result is that CBD consumers are drowning in different types of CBD they can consume. With a new CBD “wonder product” being launched every other day, it can be hard to make sense of what all these products do and how they work with our bodies. Our CBD101 guide cuts through all the jargon and fast talk to bring you a practical guide to keep you informed about the different types of CBD.

The labels on bottles and packages offer little relief for the perplexed and the bemused. So here’s a basic guide to understanding CBD terminology and help you make an informed, smart choice for your CBD purchase. There are three basic forms of CBD available in the marketplace and, depending on the kind of CBD product you have opted for (e.g., topical cream, raw flower, CBD oil, or tincture), you will find one of the following descriptions of the kind of CBD it contains on the label: Full-spectrum CBD, Broad Spectrum CBD, or CBD Isolate.

Three basic types of CBD explained

CBD Isolate:

If your CBD product has “CBD isolate” on the label, you can be sure that it contains one type of cannabinoid which was extracted from a cannabis plant: Cannabidiol, or CBD for short.

The Cannabis sativa plant contains many elements, micronutrients, and cannabinoids. Most of these are helpful to human beings and help us to regulate our endocannabinoid system. Starting with the C. sativa plant, a CBD producer will chemically extract the Cannabidiol cannabinoid (CBD) from the plant. The extraction process ensures that only the CBD cannabinoid is extracted and all other micronutrients, phytocannabinoids, and other cannabinoids are left well alone.

The result is CBD isolate, which has all of the benefits of CBD with none of the benefits (and complications) of any of the other cannabinoids from the plant. This type of CBD is also of particular interest to researchers looking to isolate one cannabinoid and study its actions.

Broad-spectrum CBD:

A step up from CBD isolate is broad-spectrum CBD. Where CBD isolate only utilizes the CBD cannabinoid, broad-spectrum CBD extraction draws many more cannabinoids out of the plant, such as cannabidiol (CBD), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), and various terpenes like limonene, pinene, or myrcene, to name only a few. The human endocannabinoid system also seems to respond very favorably to a spectrum of cannabinoids. What this means is that although we respond well to CBD when we ingest it on its own, when we ingest CBD with other cannabinoids, terpenes, and elements from the cannabis plant, there seems to be an enhanced effect, or “Entourage effect,” which –in layman’s terms– just makes the CBD work better.

Where CBD isolate introduces CBD only to the body, broad-spectrum CBD includes many of the other elements in the cannabis plant to enhance the effect and efficacy of CBD.

The most important thing to know about broad-spectrum CBD is that there is one cannabinoid that it excludes: Delta nine tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Why? Well, some folks don’t want the effects of THC, and others don’t want any THC at all in their system because they are required to take a health and safety drug screen from time to time. The presence of THC might trigger the drug screen and cause problems in the workplace. For this reason alone, this type of CBD has an important place on the CBD product shelf.

Full Spectrum CBD:

Where CBD isolate utilized only cannabidiol only, and broad-spectrum CBD adds a few more cannabinoids and terpenes to the extraction mix, full-spectrum CBD gives you all of the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and with this, all of the potential benefits of the full-spectrum type of CBD.

Full-spectrum includes THC, the notoriously psychoactive ingredient of cannabis which can often be a sticking point for some users. Many CBD adherents don’t need or want, for that matter, the effects of THC to interfere with a busy day at work or to make them feel “spacey,” “fuzzy,” or even “high.” For many, this is a side-effect that they can’t tolerate. How best then to be mindful of THC content in your CBD product.

Well, most credible CBD producers publish a Certificate of Analysis (COA) which will show a clear breakdown of what cannabinoids, terpenes, etc., are included in their product. This is a first step in understanding what you’ve got in your bottle of CBD or your tin of CBD gummies. However, there is something even more important that can keep you on the right track concerning full-spectrum CBD and its THC content: Only using CBD extracted from Hemp plants.

Types of CBD: Hemp vs. Marijuana

Both Hemp and Marijuana are basically the same plant: Cannabis sativa. Over thousands of years, humans have selectively bred this plant for very different uses. Hemp plants were originally bred for use in industry to make fibers like cotton and rope and oils like hemp seed oil. Hemp is incredibly versatile and a very practical crop to grow, rivaling cotton as an excellent fiber to make textiles. Hemp has also been selectively bred to have an extremely low THC content. When hemp was legalized in the US, it was mandated that hemp plants could be defined as “Hemp” if they had less than 0.3% THC content. This means that any full-spectrum CBD oil obtained from these plants would have a mostly negligible amount of THC. This small amount is useful in the entourage effect but not sufficient to have the powerful psychoactive impact that its more “recreational” cousin, the Marijuana plant, has.

Marijuana – still Cannabis sativa, but bred for more ‘recreational’ reasons – has acquired a bad reputation over the years and is still the subject of much controversy and moralizing. This plant has been selectively bred to have a very high THC content and, consequently, a very strong psychoactive effect. CBD extracted from Marijuana plants can expect to carry a much higher than 0.3% THC content – some are even as high as 20 – 50% THC. With the high THC content comes the added risk of testing positive for THC on drug screens which is why full-spectrum CBD from marijuana plants is often problematic for users who undergo regular workplace screening.

However, full-spectrum CBD like Soulsome’s raw hemp flower cold-pressed CBD oil is extracted from hemp plants which have ultra-low THC content ensuring the full entourage effect without any unwanted psychoactive effects of a substantial THC load in this type of CBD oil.

Other things to know about the different types of CBD.

With the basic types of CBD covered above, let’s take a look at some other terminology you may encounter when selecting a CBD product.

  • CBD Concentrates: A CBD concentrate is a CBD extract that has a very high concentration of the CBD cannabinoid. These “concentrated” products come in a variety of forms and applications:
  • Extracts: Like CBD oil
  • Distillates: Include CBD which is extracted from the plant by distillation. A CBD distillate often and orangey-amber color, with an oily texture.
  • CBD Crumble: CBD that is extracted from the plant into a waxy, crumbly form-typically smoked or “dabbed.”
  • CBD shatter: A hard and brittle (think peanut brittle) extraction of CBD. Named “shatter” because of the way it breaks apart.
  • CBD wax: Very similar to shatter (above), with shatter being clear, transparent like glass and wax being a yellow, opaque (can’t see through it very well) substance, also smoked or “dabbed.”

These many types of CBD are some of the basic products that can be created from extracted CBD and, are primarily influenced by the extraction method. For many types of CBD, the extraction process defines what kind of end product is made. When Soulsome began producing CBD oils, the goal was to create an incredibly pure, environmentally conscious, and human-friendly CBD oil. After vetting many different methods and production techniques, we settled on the ancient cold-pressing mechanical extraction method, which ensures a full-spectrum CBD oil without any chemical or alcohol contaminants or left-overs from the extraction process. It also provides a complete terpene and phytocannabinoid profile, rich in micronutrients and other beneficial elements native to the Hemp plant. When combined with our organic, extra-virgin hemp seed carrier oil, Soulsome’s cold-pressed CBD oil is one of the finest, most nutritious, and purest CBD oils available on the market.

Raw CBD oil

A raw CBD oil is extracted from the plant without using solvents or chemicals in the extraction process. If you aren’t aware yet, CBD is most often extracted from the plant using a CO2 or an alcohol solvent extraction process. Raw CBD oil, like Soulsome’s raw hemp flower CBD oil, is created in a mechanical process using the pressure of a cold-press system to force the natural oils out of the plant flowers. Due to the cold-pressing nature of the extraction process, the end product is a “full-spectrum” of the plant’s cannabinoid ingredients which include CBD and CBDa, along with the various terpenes and other cannabinoids.

Phytocannabinoid Rich (PCR) CBD

What is a phytocannabinoid? Simply put, it is a cannabinoid created by a plant, in this case, the Cannabis sativa plant. PCR is a convenient abbreviation for “Phytocannabinoid rich,” which usually means the CBD oil has a full range of the plant’s cannabinoids present. Soulsome’s cold-pressed CBD oil is most definitely a PCR oil, as the cold-press extraction method is unique in its ability to extract all of these essential cannabis oils in their purest, unadulterated forms. These terms are often used to differentiate one product offering from another, but they are basically the same thing, “PCR Hemp oil,” for example, is much the same as “Full-spectrum CBD oil.”

Types of CBD: Concluding remarks

Whatever type of CBD product you choose, be especially mindful of your specific needs from it. Full-spectrum CBD oil, cold-press extracted like Soulsome’s raw hemp oil, will give you the purest, cleanest experience. Other forms like shatter and wax extraction require dabbing or smoking as their ingestion process. A broad-spectrum or CBD isolate may be more your speed for those with concerns about health and safety screenings in the workplace. However, for purity of taste, content, and extraction, you will be hard-pressed to beat Soulsom’es raw hemp flower CBD oil.

Further reading:

  1. Russo EB. The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain. Front Plant Sci. 2019;9:1969. Published 2019 Jan 9. doi:10.3389/fpls.2018.01969 retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6334252/ on 08/10/2021.
  2. Jiang, H., Wang, L., Merlin, M.D. et al. Ancient Cannabis Burial Shroud in a Central Eurasian Cemetery. Econ Bot 70, 213–221 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12231-016-9351-1 retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12231-016-9351-1 on 08/10/2021.
  3. Guangpeng Ren, Xu Zhang, Ying Li, Kate Ridout, Martha L. Serrano-Serrano, Yongzhi Yang, Ai Liu, Gudasalamani Ravikanth, Muhammad Ali Nawaz, Abdul Samad Mumtaz, Nicolas Salamin, Luca Fumagalli. Large-scale whole-genome resequencing unravels the domestication history of Cannabis sativa. Science Advances 16 Jul 2021:Vol. 7, no. 29, eabg2286. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg2286 retrieved from https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/29/eabg2286 on 08/10/2021 

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