CBD Isolate and Whole Plant Hemp: What’s the Difference?
By keeping all of the plant components, whole plant hemp extract benefits from the synergistic properties between the components.
The potential benefits of CBD are a prominent topic of research and discussion. As we explain the effects of CBD, it is important to discuss the types of CBD extracts. CBD can be extracted from the hemp plant in a variety of forms. The type of extract in a product has been shown to impact the effect that CBD has on the body. Whole plant hemp extract and CBD isolate are two common forms of CBD extract. These extracts vary in the type of cannabinoids and synergistic plant extracts they contain.
Let’s take a closer look at the differences between these two extracts to understand how they influence the intake of CBD.
CBD isolate is cannabidiol in its purest form. To produce this extract, CBD is isolated and then refined to strip out any additional cannabinoids, terpenes, and plant components found in the hemp plant. The final product is a fine white powder that contains around 99% cannabidiol.
Isolates contain only one cannabinoid: CBD. This means that CBD isolate does not contain any THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid, making CBD isolate a perfect option for those who seek a THC-free product.
CBD isolate has no taste or odor and can be used to formulate many varieties of CBD products, such as edibles and topicals. Since CBD isolate is around 99% pure, you have control over exactly how much CBD is added to a product (a milligram of CBD isolate equates to about a milligram of CBD).
Whole Plant Hemp Extract
Whole plant hemp extract keeps the full properties of the hemp plant intact. In addition to CBD, this extract includes terpenes, cannabinoids, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, phytonutrients and any other materials that are extracted from the hemp plant. The hemp plant naturally contains over 100 cannabinoids that, similar to CBD, provide their own unique benefit.
Also referred to as a full-spectrum extract, whole plant hemp extract contains all of the available benefits within the hemp material. By keeping all of the plant components, whole plant hemp extract benefits from the synergistic properties between the components. Scientists have found that plant components interact with one another to create an enhanced effect (compared to the component alone).
According to this theory, known as the entourage effect, CBD and other components of hemp work together to improve absorption and effect in the body. These compounds influence each other’s function for a sum greater than its parts.
Since the natural cannabinoids remain intact, whole plant hemp extract contains small levels of THC. However, in order to be considered hemp, whole plant hemp extract must have less than 0.3% THC. This is a trace amount that does not create a high.
Can a Full-Spectrum Product be THC-Free?
Confusion may set in when we discover a product such as the Hemp Oil Care tincture, which is full-spectrum and THC-free. This product contradicts our previous statement that a full-spectrum product must contain low levels of THC. While uncommon, it is possible to manufacture a product that is full-spectrum and THC-free. As an example, we will explain the process of manufacturing the Hemp Oil Care tincture.
Purifying Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil
The Hemp Oil Care tincture starts as a full-spectrum oil. There are various methods of extracting full-spectrum hemp oil from the hemp plant. While CO2 extraction is deemed the cleanest method, other methods, such as solvent extraction, may be utilized. However extracted, the final product will be an oil with varying amounts of THC no greater than 0.3%.
At this point, most manufacturers would combine this oil with several other ingredients or use as is. Using technology called centrifugal partition chromatography (CPC), the manufacturer of the Hemp Oil Care tincture takes an additional step.
CPC is a tool for purifying cannabis extracts. CPC technology separates each compound to remove unwanted compounds, such as THC.
During CPC, raw oil is run through a centrifuge. The oil is pushed through a series of cells that contain a mixture of liquids such as water, methanol, or heptane. Each compound diffuses into one of the liquids depending on their affinity to it; the compounds separate into different cells along the way. The compact CPC unit uses over one thousand extraction cells in a high-speed spinning disk pack to separate and purify the desired compound. Each cell increases the purity of the desired compound until a high purity product is created.
Additional CBD isolate is added to the final product to increase the potency.
THC or no THC?
If CPC technology is available, you may be wondering why all products are not THC-free. THC, the intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant, raises concern for those who do not wish to experience the intoxicating effects of marijuana or must partake in routine drug testing.
While beneficial for these reasons, THC is also being studied for its interaction with CBD in what we have referred to as the entourage effect.
A Note About THC-Free Full-Spectrum Products
Please note not all products that are labeled full-spectrum and THC-free will be manufactured in this manner. We suggest you be wary of products that claim to be full-spectrum and THC-free. Many times, a THC-free “full-spectrum” product is made solely with CBD isolate. When in doubt, reference the manufacturer’s COA to determine the levels of cannabinoids in the product.
With CBD isolates, you receive the sole benefits of CBD. In comparison, whole plant hemp extract provides the synergistic benefits of the whole hemp plant. Whether you choose CBD isolate or whole plant hemp extract is dependent upon your health goals. Both have proven benefit in certain instances.
As the scientific community learns more about CBD, we are beginning to understand how CBD interacts with the body along with other plant components.