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Broad-spectrum CBD is one of the three types of CBD and an important THC-free middle ground between full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate.
In this post, we’ll cover what broad-spectrum CBD is, how it’s made, and the pros and cons to consider before purchasing.
What Is CBD?
First, let’s review what CBD is. When we discuss CBD, we could be referring to a few things.
- CBD can mean the cannabinoid CBD— short for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive compound that helps regulate our body’s endocannabinoid system.
- We can also use CBD as an umbrella term to refer to the extract of a hemp plant. In this case, “CBD” includes several hundred other organic compounds extracted from the hemp plant like cannabinoids, terpenes, flavanoids, and more.
In the context of this post, unless otherwise clarified, we’ll be using the second, more “broad,” definition of CBD.
What Is Broad-Spectrum CBD?
Broad-spectrum CBD is one of three CBD subcategories. The other two are called “full-spectrum CBD” and “CBD Isolate” sometimes referred to as pure CBD.
The latter, CBD isolate, is a hemp concentrate that’s refined into pure crystallized CBD. (100% purity is nearly impossible to achieve, and most in the hemp industry settle for 98-99% purity.)
Full-spectrum CBD on the other hand, refers to an extract that contains all natural compounds at the time of harvest.
Why the industry has decided to muddle the matter is beyond this author. Regardless, broad-spectrum CBD is the happy middle ground between full-spectrum and CBD isolate. It can contain any combination of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other naturally occurring compounds found in the hemp plant—except for one very important cannabinoid: THC.
What Makes Broad-Spectrum CBD Different?
The cannabinoid(s) that can’t be present in broad-spectrum CBD is perhaps the most well-known. To be considered and marketed as “broad-spectrum” the product and the extract it is made from must not contain any THC. That includes delta-9 THC, delta-8, and all other tetrahydrocannabinol analogs.
We can think of a broad-spectrum CBD product as:
- Made with full-spectrum CBD with the THC removed
- Made with CBD isolate combined with another cannabinoid
- Anything in between
How Is Broad-Spectrum CBD Made?
There are two ways to make broad-spectrum CBD: Remediation and addition. Both are different and have their pros and cons.
Making broad-spectrum via remediation requires technical know-how and some pricey equipment, but the final product is as close to full-spectrum CBD as you can get without having THC.
Remediation is the act of removing the THC (and analogous cannabinoids) from a full-spectrum CBD extract. One of the most common industry remediation techniques is called flash chromatography.
Let’s visualize flash chromatography remediation like this: Think of full-spectrum CBD extract as a deck of cards— full of different suits and numbered cards— each a cannabinoid. Without remediation, we accept the deck as is. But with flash chromatography, we can spread the cards out and get rid of the cards we don’t want. In this case, it’s the two pesky jokers— delta-9 THC & THCa. Once we’re finished, we can reshuffle the deck and go on our merry way with broad-spectrum CBD extract.
We can also make broad-spectrum CBD by adding cannabinoid isolates together. This is the more common method, especially when we talk about broad-spectrum CBD edibles, like Sunset Lake CBD’s own CBN Sleep Gummies.
While this method is ripe for critique, it has its benefits especially when we consider dosing, accuracy, and desired effects.
What About Terpenes?
Because of the growing body of research around terpenes and how they modulate a user’s experience, asking about the fate of these aromatic compounds is fair game.
Unfortunately, terpenes are a secondary consideration when thinking about broad-spectrum CBD. Because manufacturers make broad-spectrum CBD with either isolated cannabinoids or refined distillates the terpenes are often lost.
What Are The Pros Of Broad-Spectrum CBD?
(Partial) Entourage Effect
If you’re stuck between the rock and hard place of reaping the benefits of full-spectrum CBD’s entourage effect and the need to avoid THC because of legal or professional limitations, remediated broad-spectrum CBD might be the perfect solution for you.
Broad-spectrum CBD is ideal for folks who are sensitive to THC. The psychoactive cannabinoids like delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC, delta-10, THCa, etc. are removed during the process.
Not all states or countries have the same limits when it comes to full-spectrum CBD’s trace THC content. In the United States, hemp’s THC limit is 0.3%. In many parts of Europe that limit is 0.05%. Removing THC completely is a good way around these limits.
We’ve been dancing around this point during this section, but if you are still subject to workplace or judicial drug tests, broad-spectrum CBD may work for you. Drug screenings are usually pass-fail for THC metabolites, so it doesn’t matter what concentration you consume THC in. If it’s in your body, your liver will break it down and you’ll test positive.
Read more: Does CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?
What Are The Cons?
Purification & Quality Considerations
One of the biggest hangups about broad-spectrum CBD is product quality— especially if it’s made with remediated broad-spectrum CBD. Because the extraction method involves solvents and precision, there’s a slight chance that a broad-spectrum product could have,
- Residual solvents that you wouldn’t want to consume
- Trace amounts of THC still present in the product
If you’re considering buying a broad-spectrum product, be sure to look at the product’s certificate of analysis. These documents should tell you more about the presence of other cannabinoids and about foreign substances still present.
Incomplete Entourage Effect
While we included this on the benefits list, it also deserves a spot on our cons list. As the body of research grows, we’re learning more and more about THC’s therapeutic effects. While it may be intoxicating, researchers are finding that it may also help manage sleep, and depression symptoms, and help as an appetite stimulant.
The last drawback is somewhat minor compared to the others, especially now that hemp and cannabis technology continue to evolve. Because broad-spectrum CBD requires special skill sets and technology to produce, it’s more expensive to make. Manufacturers usually pass those costs on to consumers.
Broad-Spectrum CBD: Common Questions
Assuming that the extract is made correctly, your broad-spectrum CBD is safe for consumption. As will all CBD products, side effects are possible though relatively minor.
Be sure to ask the vendor for any certificates of analysis so that you can ensure that your product is produced and purified properly. For more guidance about how to read your certificate of analysis, you can see our full post here.
Broad-spectrum CBD is federally legal in the United States via the 2018 Farm Bill. For more information about your local area, state, or country please contact a local attorney.
How Is It Different Than Full-Spectrum CBD?
At the core of this question is the presence of THC.
If a CBD product contains CBD and any other cannabinoid that isn’t THC or its analogs (delta-8 THC, THCa, etc.) it can be called broad-spectrum CBD.
Read more: Broad-Spectrum vs. Full-Spectrum CBD
How Long Until It Starts To Work?
Broad-spectrum CBD’s onset time is product-dependent. For product-specific onset times, please reach out to us via our contact page.
For more general information, see our posts about topicals, edibles, oils, and smokables.
What Forms Does Broad-Spectrum CBD Come In?
Broad-spectrum CBD is available in every form full-spectrum CBD is except for smokables. That includes CBD oils, edibles, beverages, pet treats, topicals, and more.
It’s simply not genetically possible to grow broad-spectrum hemp though that might be on the horizon with the development of gene-editing techniques.
- L’Heureux, Megan. “THC Remediation: A Basic Understanding.” Cannabis Science Tech, Cannabis Science and Technology, 19 Dec. 2020, www.cannabissciencetech.com/view/thc-remediation-a-basic-understanding.
- “Flash Chromatography.” ExtraktLAB, extraktlab.com/pure99-x-chromatography-system/flash-chromatography/