What is CBD Isolate?

Jay Hartenbach

by Jay Hartenbach

November 17, 2020

CBD isolate: it might’ve been popular a few years ago, but recent research (not to mention recent customer experience!) has shown it’s not all it was initially cracked up to be.

Still wondering what CBD isolate is? Wonder no more — this blog will clear up the details.

– CBD Isolate 101
– CBD Isolate: the Pros
– CBD Isolate: the Cons
– Why Full Spectrum Is Better
– CBD Isolate 101
– CBD isolate, as you might expect from its name, is pure, fully isolated CBD. Most top-shelf CBD isolate is around 99.9% pure.

And all this purity gives CBD isolate a radically different look than normal CBD concentrates. It’s not a terpene-rich oil…in fact, isolate doesn’t take the form of an oil at all. It’s a crystalline powder: scentless, tasteless, and colorless.

Sophisticated, right? Not so fast. While the process involved in making CBD isolate (or THC isolate, for that matter) is indeed sophisticated, many of its pharmacological effects (i.e., how it’ll make you feel) actually aren’t.

More on these effects next….in the name of objectivity, we’ll go over CBD isolate’s positive ones first.

CBD Isolate: the Pros

CBD isolate may not be quite as effective as a true full spectrum product, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work at all. More than a few people with mood challenges like anxiety have found that isolate is plenty powerful for them. People concerned about drug testing may also opt to go the isolate route, though these types of fears are pretty unfounded.

One other positive: CBD isolate can be great for those with allergies (yes, some people really are allergic to the terpenes in hemp). If you have sensitivities to pine or citrus, CBD isolate could be the most suitable choice for you.

CBD Isolate: the Cons

At first glance, you might think CBD isolate’s purity would be a good thing, sort of like how aspirin makes the willow tree’s analgesic effects more readily accessible….but that’s not the case here. CBD isolate falls way short when it comes to harnessing the full power of hemp.

Why? Primarily because it misses out on the entourage effect, a phenomenon which refers to how hemp’s active compounds work together. You may not be missing much when isolating acetylsalicylic acid from willow bark, but you miss out on a whole lot of potential synergy when you isolate CBD from hemp.

A 2015 study out of Israel was among the first to quantify just how much. It’s very title speaks volumes, “Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol,” if you think about it. CBD isolate’s effects form a bell-shaped form when graphed out, meaning they quickly reach a point of diminishing returns where high doses become less and less effective — but this diminishment can be overcome by a whole-plant, full spectrum extract!

Why Full Spectrum Is Better

It’s almost like hemp’s terpenes and trace cannabinoids provide CBD a little extra boost. And these critical compounds don’t just benefit the endocannabinoid system, either — new research shows the entourage effect actually does much of its best work through pathways other than the endocannabinoid system.

This study also noted that even the THC + CBD combo was important: “CBD may modulate Δ9-THC effects at the receptor level acting as a CB1 negative allosteric modulator, providing some biological plausibility to a modulatory interaction.” Basically, CBD balances THC out.

Don’t let the science impress you too much, though. We still have much to learn, and we’ll likely continue to discover full spectrum hemp’s power far into the future. As the study above so aptly said, “the quest for entourage does not end here; in many ways, it has only just begun.”

To summarize, full spectrum CBD is better than CBD isolate in nearly every way. That’s what the science says, and just as importantly, it’s also what our customers are experiencing.

This is all assuming your CBD product of choice is truly full spectrum, of course. Many of the market’s most popular products are anything but, which is why our team at Five CBD has made the effort to really quantify the quality and quantity of trace compounds that make it into our products. Not only are they not made from CBD isolate…they’re not made of anything besides nature’s very best.

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