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When figuring out what CBD products are right for you, it’s important to determine whether your product is made with broad-spectrum vs. full-spectrum CBD (also known as whole-plant CBD.) Both broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD are derived from legal hemp but can vary in effect and effectiveness. 

By the end of this post, you’ll know,

  • The difference between broad-spectrum vs. full-spectrum CBD
  • How to tell which is which
  • How to find the right product for your needs

This post will help you determine which type of CBD is right for you.

What is Full-Spectrum CBD?

CBD can seem a little complicated to new users, so let’s back up a little bit. The hemp plant that CBD is derived from contains a few classes of beneficial compounds: 


There are more than 100 cannabinoids present in hemp plants; CBD, CBN, CBG, and many more among them. Cannabinoids are responsible for interacting with your endocannabinoid system


Terpenes are aromatic organic compounds responsible for hemp and cannabis’s fragrance. Some terpenes, like pinene and linalool, are being studied for their therapeutic benefits.


Flavonoids are found in plants including everyday fruits, vegetables, and more. Like terpenes, flavonoids may have some therapeutic applications, too. 

Full-spectrum CBD contains all cannabinoids present in the hemp plant at the time of harvest. Sometimes full-spectrum contains the terpenes and flavinoids present at harvest too. Some retailers refer to full-spectrum CBD as “whole-plant CBD” because it isn’t chemically remediated before it reaches you. That also means that full-spectrum CBD products contain trace amounts of THC and THCa which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can make for more potent full-spectrum CBD edibles.

When you consume CBD alongside other cannabinoids, you may experience what some call the entourage effect, or cannabinoids working better together.

Hemp Flower Contains Full-Spectrum CBD

CBD hemp flower is one of the least processed CBD products on the market. While geneticists breed hemp with different cannabinoid concentrations, there’s no way to completely remove any one cannabinoid from hemp flowers, making it by default, full-spectrum.

What is Broad-Spectrum CBD?

Broad-spectrum CBD is a nice substitute for folks looking for the benefits of full-spectrum CBD, but who are worried about the presence of THC and THCa. 

There are two ways to make broad-spectrum CBD: 

The first involves starting with pure CBD isolate and adding back desired cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes until you reach a desired balance. This is a common technique when making vaping cartridges with a distillate base. 

The second way to make broad-spectrum CBD involves removing just the THCa and delta-9 THC from the rest of your hemp extract via one, or a combination, of three different chromatography methods.

Broad-Spectrum vs. Full-Spectrum CBD: Which Is Right For You?

Because CBD products are still relatively new there’s a discovery process that consumers will have to work through before finding the products that suit their needs. The following is an abbreviated list of common pros and cons of both broad-spectrum vs. full-spectrum CBD.

Full-spectrum CBD Pros 

Unadulterated and Available

Hemp in its most unadulterated form: hemp flower, smokables, full-spectrum CBD oil tinctures. This lack of extra processing also means full-spectrum CBD is widely available and easy to find online. 

Entourage Effect 

Many claim that full-spectrum CBD provides more relief than broad-spectrum products because of the entourage effect. Some studies seem to back that claim, suggesting that CBD’s therapeutic effects are stronger when mixed with hemp’s other cannabinoids. 

Full-spectrum CBD Cons 

Contains THC

Full-spectrum CBD contains trace amounts of THC and THCa. If you’re worried about an upcoming drug test, avoid full-spectrum CBD. 

Read more: Does CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?

Side Effects 

Some folks are more sensitive to other cannabinoids like THC and CBN. The former is responsible for cannabis’s psychoactive effects, and the latter may make you quite sleepy. If that’s not what you’re looking for in your CBD product, you may want to avoid full-spectrum CBD products. 

Broad-spectrum CBD Pros


Broad-spectrum CBD products have had their THC and THCa removed. There is no need to worry about a urine test when you use a third-party tested broad-spectrum CBD product. 

Broad-spectrum CBD Cons

Requires Additional Processing 

Removing THC from the equation requires more processing. While the process is safe, tried, and true, making broad-spectrum CBD does require more work than full-spectrum CBD. 

More Expensive Than Full-Spectrum CBD 

The processing described above requires more intricate machinery, time, and labor; all of which will make your broad-spectrum CBD products more expensive than a full-spectrum option.