What Type of CBD Is Best? – Part 1

Understanding the Classifications.


CBD is everywhere and the information about this beneficial compound has become increasingly overwhelming -and- confusing for many.

This week we dig into the “classifications” of the thousands of CBD products that are available today. Many manufacturers in the CBD industry have settled into using the terms Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, Isolate or Water-soluble to describe their products, but what do they mean to you, the consumer?

To make informed choices, consumers must:

  1. Understand the intended or traditional meaning of each classification
  2. Understand how an individual manufacturer interprets and uses each classification
  3. Ultimately decide which category is best for their unique circumstances

It is important to know that CBD products derived from the hemp plant (as defined as the Cannabis sativa L. containing less than or equal to 0.3% THC by dry weight concentration) are largely unregulated at this time.  Further, because there are no universal industry standards, any manufacturer can choose to interpret what these classifications mean, which may not necessarily match the intention or traditional definition.

These are just two reasons why accurate consumer education is so important. Having watched the evolution of the growing acceptance of CBD over the past twelve years, here’s my perspective.

Full Spectrum

Full spectrum means all compounds of the plant: cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are present and used in the formulation.

Full spectrum CBD products can be derived from industrial hemp, non-industrial hemp or cannabis (aka marijuana). If the product is derived from industrial hemp, these compounds may be present in the final product, but generally in much lower concentrations than compounds that are derived from non-industrial hemp or marijuana.

Some manufacturers use the term full spectrum to denote all parts of the plant: root, stalk, stem, leaves and buds (if applicable). The traditional use of the term Full Spectrum means that all the compounds found in the plant are present in some concentration

Broad Spectrum

Broad spectrum means all parts of the plant: cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are present EXCEPT for the THC. Broad spectrum CBD products can be derived from industrial hemp, non-industrial hemp or cannabis (aka marijuana). The THC is purposely removed through extraction prior to infusing the cannabis extract into the final product.

Some manufacturers are choosing to remove all the THC from their products for a number of reasons. Some believe the THC is unnecessary and a barrier to purchase for those fearful of this compound. Others are removing it to ensure they are not in violation of local laws pertaining to THC in various states or parts of the world where they wish to do business.


Isolate refers to single compound formulations. In these products, only a single cannabinoid, such as CBD is extracted and used in the final product formulation. Some manufacturers believe that the isolate form of CBD is best. You will often see the terms pure or purest CBD to describe these products. When CBD is extracted from any cannabis plant, molecule for molecule, it is exactly the same. It is the entourage effect of the CBD working synergistically with all the other compounds that can often make it more beneficial.


Water-soluble refers to a laboratory process where the CBD is isolated and then a technology referred to as nanotechnology is applied. Nanotechnology uses soundwaves that breaks down CBD clusters into micro-sized particles. You’ll see the term bioavailability intertwined with products using this technique.  While it may all sound fantastic, be aware that cannabinoids are naturally fat soluble, not water soluble. Therefore, manufacturers taking this approach are manipulating the natural state of these compounds with the promise of improved absorption.


What makes one type of CBD better than another?

At the end of the day, it is what works for the individual. We are all unique and it is the present state of our endocannabinoid system and how that system utilizes the compounds we take that determines the results we will yield.

When people ask me what is the best product, my answer is always, “The one that works for you”. Understanding what you are buying and how to use it are the first two keys to success.

Now that you have a base understanding of each classification, be sure to tune in for Part 2 & 3 where we’ll provide you with the information you need to validate the manufacturer claims of what is in their product and explore the pros and cons of each product type and we’ll even provide basics of how to use each type for most effective results.