cbd isolate vs distillate

Cbd isolate vs distillate

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Ever feel confused by a complex list of items on a seemingly straightforward product? Us too. Thankfully, though, the many fillers, preservatives, colourings which find their way into many of our food items won’t be found in any quality CBD oil on the market.

Still, there are many specialised words and phrases attached to various CBD products that leave us unsure about which oils would best suit our needs. And because quality ingredients usually dictate the positive health benefits, the most important questions that need an answer here are: what is CBD isolate and CBD distillate, what’s the difference, and, crucially, how much does it matter?


What is CBD isolate? In short, as the word suggests, CBD isolate is an isolated form of cannabinol (CBD). Before its isolation, CBD is one of many other active ingredients in full-spectrum cannabis oil. To ‘isolate’, all of the plant’s natural compounds — except for CBD — are thoroughly removed, leaving CBD as a pure crystalline solid or powder, devoid of any distinct smell or taste.

Depending on the intensity and type of extraction process, quality cannabinol isolates are over 99% pure , which are then blended with hemp oil or other oil-based alternatives for ingestion or topical use. This is the clear benefit of CBD isolate – offering an unmatchable purity that maintains its potency even when added to other substances (cookies, creams and everything in-between), and with this the removal of any earthy tastes associated with cannabis. This makes CBD isolate ideal for use in balms and edibles for people who prefer more appealing or popular tastes and flavour.

However, incredibly, there are at least 100 known cannabinoids in the plant we know and love, and a further 300 or so non-cannabinoid compounds. These chemicals aren’t found in any other plants on earth, making them unique to cannabis, and, as a result, unique in how they communicate with our own chemistry. These are removed during the isolation process.

Considering the complex and intricate relationship many compounds have within any given plant, researchers have been increasingly interested in the interplay of one cannabinoid to another. Naturally, a mixture of distinct cannabinoids that join to the cannabinoid receptors in both our body and brain will affect us differently when compared to isolated forms of any one chemical. And that’s why CBD distillate is causing quite a stir for all the right reasons.


So. What is CBD distillate? CBD distillate is high CBD hemp concentrate that has gone through a distillation process to remove THC , while working to keep as much — or as little — of the other cannabinoids and terpenes in the concentrate as possible. Distillation is the purifying of a liquid by a process of heating and/or cooling, a process which can carefully be manipulated to create the perfect blend of chosen compounds for the desired effect.

While distillation can effectively be utilised to add and subtract cannabinoids at will, there may be trace amounts of THC present. Still, both isolate and distillate CBD contains negligible amounts of THC, so won’t get you ‘high’. In fact, CBD distillate can legally contain 0.03% THC, though this is nowhere near enough for psychoactive effects to take place.1.

What is CBD? As we know, CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, which, unlike THC, can benefit us greatly without any unwanted ‘high’, making it an attractive supplement for those who need to remain focused throughout the day. However, it’s important you search out a brand that can share its Certificate of Analysis with you, guaranteeing their level of THC is completely safe and virtually undetectable. Many inferior CBD products don’t offer the adequate level of testing or proper filtration, which may lead to a failed urine test.

Some notable cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana are:
– Flavonoids/Terpenes.

And while most cannabinoids don’t have the potential to make us ‘high’, it’s clear that their interaction with other such chemicals has an effect on us. The interplay of different cannabinoids when used together have been studied to enhance their individual qualities when they jointly interact with our endocannabinoid system in a process known as the ‘entourage effect ’.

The ‘entourage effect’ details the synergistic relationship which cannabinoids naturally have with one another. More and more studies delve into the phytocannabinoid-terpenoid interactions, resulting in synergy with respect to treatment of many ailments.2

CBD oil benefits
From pain and inflammation to neurological disorders and the quality of our sleep, CBD has been revered in many studies for its promising use in a world which pines for natural yet effective medicine.

Indeed, one such study explains how cannabidiol enhances endogenous adenosine signalling, a response to stress which is critical in tissue protection and the reduction of inflammation.3 It’s of no surprise, then, that some of the most successful sports persons (also some of the most susceptible to inflammation) are turning to CBD.

As we all know too well, where inflammation is found in the body, pain soon follows. So it’s exciting to find that cannabinoid compounds CBD and CBC have been noted for their joint analgesia [inability to feel pain] effect.4


In short, both CBD isolate and CBD distillate are processed to have negligible amounts of THC.

The difference is that CBD isolate is at least 99% CBD with only trace amounts of other substances (resulting in a notable limitation of biological benefits), while CBD distillate averages 50-70% CBD, coupled with 30-50% more natural cannabinoid compounds which work synergistically to aid and enhance what would otherwise be a restriction on potential health benefits.

Clearly, the distinction between the two forms of extraction matters . If we are to reap the full range of benefits on offer from CBD, then it makes sense that it must interact with our body in an interplay with other compounds, just as nature intended.

One of the most common questions around CBD, is trying to understand the different types. Read about the difference between isolate and distillate.

CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum CBD: Which One Is Right for You?

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When you think of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may be the first cannabinoid to come to mind. But there’s another popular cannabinoid to keep on your radar: cannabidiol (CBD).

While much of the research on CBD is new or ongoing, some evidence suggests that CBD may have certain health benefits, like pain relief.

Because of these potential benefits, CBD products of all kinds have flooded the market. It can be tough to separate the great from not-so-good products — let alone understand CBD terminology, like isolate and full-spectrum.

We’ve got you covered with this quick and easy guide to the differences between each form of CBD.

Both full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate are extracts from the cannabis plant. But even though they come from the same plant, there are still differences.

Full-spectrum CBD products contain small amounts of other cannabinoids, like THC, as well as flavonoids and terpenes, which are beneficial compounds that provide unique scents and flavors.

CBD isolate products go through further refining, so they only contain CBD.

Isolate Full-spectrum
CBD yes yes
THC no yes
Flavonoids no yes
Terpenes no yes

The entourage effect theory suggests that taking CBD and THC together, along with terpenes, may be more effective than taking either cannabinoid alone. That’s why some people prefer to use full-spectrum CBD.

One 2011 review in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that taking a combination of terpenes and cannabinoids may help with:

  • anxiety
  • pain
  • inflammation
  • seizures
  • cancer
  • fungal infections

The same review also concludes that CBD may help lessen unwanted THC effects, like hunger, anxiety, and sedation.

Research from 2018 found that some of the terpenes and flavonoids found in cannabis may reduce inflammation and offer neuroprotective effects.

However, as with lots of other aspects of CBD, research into the entourage effect is ongoing — and not all of it agrees.

For example, a 2019 study in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research found no change in CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, a part of your endocannabinoid system, when terpenes were added to THC.

More research is needed to be able to say for sure how the entourage effect works.

Some people may want to try CBD but are iffy on THC. That’s where CBD isolate comes in, since it’s the purest form of CBD.

Though CBD isolate won’t provide any benefits from the entourage effect, some research suggests that taking CBD alone may still be beneficial.

CBD isolate may be right for you if you:

  • Want a flavorless, odorless product. Though some CBD isolate products have added flavoring, unflavored products should be pretty taste-free.
  • Want to avoid THC altogether.
  • Want to take large doses of CBD.
  • Have to undergo drug testing. Full-spectrum CBD may be more likely to show up on a drug test. However, there may be a slight possibility that isolate products will show up, too. Even “THC-free” CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC.

Full-spectrum CBD may be the right choice if you want:

  • The benefits of the entourage effect. Since the amount of THC will be less than 0.3 percent, you shouldn’t experience any of THC’s psychoactive effects.
  • An earthy flavor profile. You can find flavored full-spectrum products, but unflavored varieties will have a slightly earthy taste.
  • A less refined product. CBD isolate has to go through more refining than full-spectrum THC.

We’ve done the research to bring you our top-rated CBD isolate and full-spectrum picks. These all meet our criteria for quality, safety, and transparency:

  • made with U.S.-grown hemp
  • has been tested by a third-party lab
  • doesn’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes testing for heavy metals, pesticides, and molds, according to the COA

We also considered:

  • the manufacturing process and certifications
  • if the ingredients are certified organic
  • brand reputation and consumer trust indicators, such as user reviews and red flags like FDA warning letters or unsupported health claims

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $40
  • $$ = $41–$60
  • $$$ = over $60

Lazarus Naturals High Potency Full-Spectrum CBD Tincture

  • Price: $–$$$
  • CBD potency: 750 milligrams (mg) per 15 milliliter (mL) bottle, 3,000 mg per 60 mL bottle, or 6,000 mg per 120 mL bottle
  • COA: Available on product page

Each bottle of Lazarus Naturals High Potency Full-Spectrum CBD Tincture includes a graduated dropper to accurately dose about 50 mg of CBD per 1 mL serving. The tincture is vegan and contains no artificial flavors, preservatives, or added sweeteners. It’s made with Oregon-grown hemp.

Moon Mother Hemp Company Massage Oil

  • Price: $$–$$$
  • CBD potency: 500 mg per 2 ounce (oz.) bottle or 1,000 mg per 4 oz. bottle
  • COA: Available online

This topical CBD massage oil is cruelty-free, gluten-free, and soy-free. The hemp used to make the product is organic and sourced from Colorado.

In addition to full-spectrum CBD, it includes relaxing lavender essential oil and moisturizing jojoba oil.

LiftMode Hemp Extract Oil, Calm

  • Price: $
  • CBD potency: 1,500 mg per 30 mL bottle
  • COA: Available online

A half dropper serving of this CBD oil contains about 25 mg of CBD and 1 mg of melatonin. Melatonin can be helpful if you have trouble sleeping.

The oil also includes relaxing chamomile, frankincense, and lavender essential oils. It’s free of GMOs, fillers, and gluten.

Pure Relief Pure Hemp Gummies

  • Price: $$
  • CBD potency: 30 mg per gummy
  • COA: Available online

These potent CBD gummy bears are available in a daytime formula and a nighttime formula, which has added melatonin.

The gummies are dyed with natural colorings rather than artificial ones. They’re sweetened with organic glucose syrup and cane sugar.

Buy Pure Relief Pure Hemp Gummies online. Use code “HEALTH15” for 15% off (bundles excluded).

Fab CBD Chews

  • Price: $$
  • CBD potency: 25 mg per gummy
  • COA: Available online

These fruit-flavored CBD chews are vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free. The CBD is sourced from organically grown hemp. They’re sweetened with organic cane sugar and tapioca syrup.

Note that while Fab CBD says these gummies are made from CBD isolate, the COA shows a very small amount of the terpene d-limonene. Even though they don’t contain any other cannabinoids, that suggests that the gummies may be better classified as broad-spectrum.

Buy Fab CBD Chews online. Use code “HEALTHLINE” for 20% off your first purchase.

Kanibi CBD Pure Isolate

  • Price: $$–$$$
  • CBD potency: 750 mg per 1 oz. bottle or 1,500 mg per 1 oz. bottle
  • COA: Available on product page

Kanibi’s CBD isolate is available in cinnamon, Skittles, and unflavored varieties. It’s made with organic, U.S.-grown hemp and MCT oil.

The company provides a 100 percent money-back guarantee.

Some CBD companies make misleading claims about their products — some even mislabel them. And since the FDA doesn’t regulate CBD products the same way it regulates dietary supplements or drugs, that means it’s super important to do careful research.

Look out for the following when shopping for CBD products:

Test results

Look for products that include an up-to-date COA from a third-party lab. Some companies will ship the COA with the product, while others may post it online. In some cases, you may have to request it by email.

Here’s what to check for when you review the COA:

  • Contaminants. Check that the product doesn’t contain pesticides, mold, or heavy metals.
  • Cannabinoid profile. If you’re interested in purchasing a CBD isolate product, for instance, verify that the product is free of THC.
  • Potency. Check that the amount of CBD listed on the COA matches what’s listed on the label.


Be sure the product you’re buying actually contains CBD. If the ingredients list only says hempseed oil or Cannabis sativa oil, it doesn’t contain CBD.

CBD source

Opt for products made from organic, U.S.-grown hemp. U.S.-grown hemp is subject to regulation, so it can’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC by law.

CBD type

It’s up to you which kind of CBD you choose, but if you prefer to avoid THC, choose a CBD isolate product. If you’d like to have other cannabis compounds, choose a full-spectrum product.

Product type

There are all sorts of CBD products out there, from topicals to gummies.

Topical CBD products help target specific pain areas. Oils and gummies are more useful for whole-body relief.

We compare CBD isolate versus full-spectrum CBD. Learn about the similarities and differences between each type, plus get our top product picks.