Wherever you get CBD, it’s hard not to notice an increase in “Full Spectrum” and “Broad Spectrum” products, all claiming that their formulation delivers superior results.
But what does full spectrum or broad spectrum mean, and what do these descriptors mean for consumers of these CBD products?
With the popularity and availability of full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD products growing, we think it’s an important time to set the record straight on this subject.
Myths Around "Full Spectrum" CBD Products
Below are some of the most common myths/misconceptions about full and broad spectrum CBD products and how these myths don’t live up to reality.
Myth: full spectrum is superior to other CBD products
While full spectrum CBD products do contain a wide range of cannabinoids (which can enhance CBD experiences), their inclusion is rarely deliberate, and therefore rarely provide benefits.
To enhance CBD experiences with accessory cannabinoids and terpenes, these additional compounds must be in sufficient concentrations to produce targeted effects. For example, if a CBD product contained enough terpenes and cannabinoids with energy boosting effects, then this product would leave the user energized.
Most full spectrum products, however, don’t include accessory cannabinoids for any reason other than CBD with trace levels of THC and other cannabinoids is cheaper than CBD isolate.
Therefore, it’s plain to see that the main reason full spectrum products are so popular is purely economic: CBD oil with trace levels of THC is less expensive than THC-free compounds, giving retailers and manufacturers a large incentive to push these products.
Myth: “Full Spectrum” and “Broad Spectrum” are specific scientific terms
Like many other buzzwords that are catapulted into public use, “Full Spectrum” and “Broad Spectrum” have a scientific flavor but no underlying substance.
Here are the dictionary definitions of full and broad spectrum:
Full Spectrum: covering an entire range or set.
Broad Spectrum: a range of many different kinds.
First used to describe wavelengths of light, “Full Spectrum” has been co-opted to mean a CBD product includes all of the “desirable” cannabinoids present in the hemp plant.
“Broad Spectrum” is even less specific, defining a CBD product with many or most of the desirable compounds found in the hemp plant.
Both of these definitions, however, ignore the fact that desirability in cannabinoids is always subjective. For example, while a full spectrum of desirable compounds may include THC for one person, it would be excluded for someone who does not consider THC desirable.
A “Full Spectrum” or “Broad Spectrum,” therefore depends on the intended effects that someone wants from a CBD product, not a standard set of compounds that is required to meet this definition.
Myth: Bioavailability is higher in full spectrum CBD products
One of the biggest misconceptions around full spectrum CBD products is their supposedly higher levels of bioavailability over broad spectrum or isolate products.
Just to ensure we’re all on the same page about bioavailability:
Bioavailability: The proportion of a drug or other substance which enters the circulation when introduced into the body and so is able to have an active effect.
In truth, bioavailability in a CBD product has little to do with the number of trace cannabinoids and terpenes present, and everything to do with:
The delivery method used (edible, vapor, etc).
The molecular bioavailability of cannabinoids present.
The concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes in the CBD product.
For example, the bioavailability of THC in a CBD vape product containing >.3% (the legal limit) is extremely low, while the bioavailability of CBD is extremely high, because CBD is in its most bioavailable state when inhaled as a low temperature vapor.
Alternatively, the bioavailability of THC in a CBD tincture containing >.3% is much higher, because THC is most efficiently absorbed through the stomach lining, whereas the bioavailability of CBD is lesser than when taken in vapor form.
So, other than the effects of placebo and branding on user experience, we can see that the bioavailability of THC in .3% vape products is negligible. On the other hand, when delivered in an edible/tincture form, this trace amount of THC becomes highly bioavailable.
To sum up: delivery method is by far the most important factor in the bioavailability of any CBD product, as different cannabinoids are more bioavailable through distinct delivery methods.
A "Full Spectrum" of Frequently Asked Questions
Spectrum buzzwords have caught on in a serious way, and you may still have some questions about full and broad spectrum products.
Here are the answers to some common questions about full spectrum products:
What does full spectrum mean? How is it different from broad spectrum or isolate?
“Full Spectrum” means that a product contains trace amounts of a wide variety of desirable cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, including THC, but this is not a scientific definition.
“Broad Spectrum” means that a product contains a wide variety of cannabinoids found in the hemp plant and does not generally contain THC. .
Do full spectrum CBD products work better?
While a broad spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes can improve user experiences, the delivery method, bioavailability and concentration of cannabinoids are the major drivers of the experience you will get from a CBD product.
For CBD, the most bioavailable form of consumption is a low-temperature vapor.
Are full spectrum products better for me?
Not necessarily, especially if you are looking for a THC-free product.
How can I spot a quality full spectrum product?
If a product displays contained concentrations of cannabinoids (CBD,THC, CBN, etc.) and terpenes (myrcene, humulene, limonene etc.), then the product’s makers are using cannabinoids and terpenes in a targeted fashion to improve your CBD experience.
If a product just says “full spectrum,” then the product’s makers have probably not been deliberate in their formulation and you will probably not have a stand out experience.
In light of the growing demand for CBD products with additional cannabinoids and terpenes, we have developed a tincture product like no other on the market: Microdose.
Containing nano-emulsified THC & CBG along with CBD, Microdose provides THC in its most bioavailable form while staying below the legal limit <.3%. Combined with the effects of CBD and CBG, Microdose provides a subtle, relaxing experience through an optimal ratio of active cannabinoids.
Lumi’s terpene-rich CBD vapes and our Microdose tincture are the very best options for the "first consumer experience,” because they are bioavailable by design and have noticeable, pleasant effects. This is important because the first consumer experience must be impressive or they won't believe in CBD, this being the difference between a single sale or a repeat customer.