Isolate Vs Distillate vs Full Spectrum
What does it all mean?
I’ll start at number one with being nearest to being natural and direct from the plant and work my way down to isolate which has been through many processes to isolate a cannabinoid.
1. Full Spectrum / Whole plant
These are two meanings for the same thing. Whole plant contains all the goodness from the plant, that’s terpenes, full range or most of available cannabinoids from that particular cultivar depending on extraction method used. You start with the crude oil extracted from the plant and usually there is a process to remove Chlorophyll (gives the plant its green colour) and some lipids, but other than that you consume pretty much what’s available after extraction from the plant. It’s this combination of cannabinoids which aids the entourage effect.
Plants are a natural evolving thing, just like humans. They change and adapt to their environment to survive. These changes and stresses can lead to changes in the content and strength of cannabinoids. One batch of oil can contain higher or lower amounts of cannabinoids than the previous depending on the environment it was grown in. Standardised growing methods help to reduce the variance, but doesn’t eliminate it. This is why it’s important to check lab tests and adjust dosage accordingly.
2. Broad Spectrum / Distillate
Same process as above, except the crude oil is put through a process called winterization which allows the removal of THC. Broad spectrum oils contain all the cannabinoids and terpenes, but without THC. This tends to be used quite a bit in the CBD industry to work with the laws and policy surrounding THC. It can also be used to increase CBD strength if added to a whole plant like above.
Isolates are the final step in further refining the initial crude oil so you are left with just one cannabinoid with everything else stripped out. Examples are Epidyolex and many CBD isolates available in the CBD market, especially in the fitness industry. CBDA, and CBG are also examples of isolates used as add-on therapies maybe in conjunction with a whole plant oil.
Isolates never change in strength unlike whole plant, the identical amount of CBD and THC are added to each batch, and allows to change ratios very easily.
Isolates are also really good for research, for us to better understand what the benefits of each individual compound is and allow for studies.