We often come across the terms ‘whole-plant’ and ‘full-spectrum’ when discussing CBD, but what do they mean? And what’s the difference between the two?
CBD comes in all shapes and sizes and for a newcomer, the vast array of administration methods and product types can initially be confusing.
If you’re new to CBD, one of the first things to get your head around is the difference between isolate, broad spectrum, full-spectrum and whole-plant extracts.
These terms refer to the different types of extracts that CBD products are made from. Isolate CBD, as the name suggests, is pure CBD derived from chemically isolated cannabidiol. It contains none of the other compounds found naturally in the hemp plant.
Broad spectrum includes a wider range of these compounds, bringing terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids into the mix. Like isolate CBD, it contains zero THC.
One of Europe’s leading CBD companies, Hemp Point, is an advocate for the power of the whole plant. The company’s founder Tomas Biroscik believes that ‘cannabis oils should remain in the state that nature intended’.
Why choose whole-plant over full- spectrum?
Full-spectrum and whole-plant extracts are very similar. They both contain the entire range of components found in the plant, including trace amounts of THC. Whole-plant extract differs in that it contains additional oils and potentially a broader range of compounds.
These include other phytocannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, bio-thiols, lipids, vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients. These compounds are believed to work synergistically in what’s called the entourage effect.
Some argue that cannabinoids other than CBD offer equally beneficial effects, such as CBG which can be used to tackle inflammation and pain.
As whole-plant extract can include oils and waxes from the plant, it can often come with a more earthy ‘hempy’ flavour. Full spectrum CBD, on the other hand, might be slightly smoother in taste and easier to digest.
According to Tomas, however, it is often poor extraction methods that are the main culprit for poor taste.
How does the extraction method affect the extract?
Poor extraction processes can lead to excess waxes finding their way into the final product. This is the most common culprit for the ‘dirty’, ‘grassy’ taste that some consumers report.
“Some products contain way too many waxes as well as chlorophyll,” Tomas said.
“It always comes down to the technique used to extract. If the oil is thick in structure that means a lot of wax is present, but if it looks more like running water, like our extracts, there are hardly any waxes present.”
Hemp Point uses its own method of extraction called HFC-134a which allows them to preserve all of the goodness the plant has to offer. The extraction process takes place under low pressures and at room temperature, stripping the natural oils from raw dried cannabis in a closed-loop system.
The gas solvent used in the technique is inflammable and less toxic than CO2, one of the most common CBD extraction methods.
Watch out for isolates in your full-spectrum CBD
Unfortunately, the CBD industry remains poorly regulated so sometimes, when a company labels a product as a full-spectrum extract this is not strictly true. In some cases, Tomas said, full spectrum CBD oils include cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, CBDa and CBC in their isolated forms.
This is particularly common in products with higher concentrations of CBD as manufacturers need to supplement the product with isolate cannabinoids to boost the potency without tipping THC levels over the legal limit.
So rather than reach for the CBD oil with the highest concentration, consider purchasing a product such as Hemp Point’s 10% Whole Plant Hemp Extract Cannabidiol Oil which brings multiple cannabinoids together without boosting concentrations with isolate compounds.
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