The Difference Between CBD Isolate & A Full-Spectrum Product (And Why It's So Confusing)

mbg Senior Sustainability Editor By Emma Loewe
mbg Senior Sustainability Editor
Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care."
Smiling Relaxed Woman in a Field

If you've ever seen a bottle of "full-spectrum hemp oil" plopped next to a "CBD isolate oil," it might have caused a pause or head scratch. Aren't they the same thing? Turns out, there can be some key differences between the two, and one is more powerful than the other. Here's what to keep in mind.

What are the similarities and differences between a CBD isolate and full-spectrum hemp product?

First, let's go over how these products are similar: Unless they are explicitly marketed as containing high levels of THC, neither of them should be psychoactive. By law, the industrial hemp plants that CBD isolate oil and full-spectrum hemp oil are derived from can't contain any more than 0.3% THC. (However, these products can also be extracted from marijuana plants, which can contain more than 0.3% THC, making them psychoactive and therefore more tightly regulated.) Hemp-derived oils are totally legal to buy in all 50 states and found in grocery stores and cafés instead of dispensaries. That's because taking them won't make you feel high.

Instead, both CBD and full-spectrum hemp oil (not to be confused with hempseed oil) are taken for their relaxing benefits.* They're often consumed as capsules, oils, or edibles before bed or during a stressful workday in order to promote a sense of ease and chill—again, without any psychoactive effects.* When you take either of them, you'll still feel completely in control of your body and mind, but you might not be as phased by things that used to stress you out.* Some people also use them in topical form for pain management and relief from aching muscles and joints.*

The main difference between a CBD-isolate product and a full-spectrum hemp product lies in their cannabinoid count. Cannabi-what? Cannabinoids are the plant compounds that give these products their chill factor. A CBD isolate product contains only one type of cannabinoid: CBD, or cannabidiol, which is the most extensively studied and popular of all the cannabinoids. All the other natural plant compounds have been filtered out.

hemp multi+

hemp multi+

Safe, full-spectrum organic hemp blend to ease anxiousness & stress.*

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hemp multi+

A full-spectrum hemp product, on the other hand, will contain, well, the full spectrum of the plant's cannabinoids (including CBD), as well as other beneficial compounds like terpenes and flavonoids.

Research shows that the more cannabinoids are in a product, the more pronounced the effects. "When you mix all those phytocannabinoids together, and not just the phytocannabinoids—but their supportive compounds and antioxidants that are in the [hemp plant]—it's a whole mix. There's this whole system at work," integrative physician Robert Rountree, M.D., previously told mbg. When all these compounds work synergistically together, it kicks off what's known as the entourage effect. When the entourage effect is in full force, the benefits of the product are heightened.


The unregulated labeling of these products makes things confusing.

Since the legal sale of these cannabis products is a relatively new thing in the U.S., the young industry is still working out some kinks: one of which is labeling discrepancy. These days, you can find products labeled broad-spectrum CBD, whole-plant CBD, full-spectrum CBD, and full-spectrum hemp. The kicker is that these names all mean the same thing: It's a product that is extracted from the hemp plant in a way that keeps all of its cannabinoids intact.

With all the different terminology out there, it's important to buy from a company that is transparent about what their product is, where it comes from, and how it works. When mindbodygreen released its hemp multi+ supplement earlier this year, we kept that top of mind.

We created a certified organic full-spectrum product that contains all those beneficial cannabinoids. We then tested our hemp four times for potency, purity, and contaminants like heavy metals, mold, and pesticides. We're confident that the resulting chill pill is safe and effective.*

The bottom line.

CBD isolate products don't contain as many beneficial plant compounds as full-spectrum blends. The way that these products are labeled can differ, so it's important that you buy from a reputable company you trust.

More On This Topic

More Health

Popular Stories


Latest Articles

Latest Articles

Sites We Love

Your article and new folder have been saved!