• Broad-spectrum CBD is a type of cannabidiol (CBD) that contains all the naturally occurring terpenes and flavonoids found in the hemp plant. Broad-spectrum CBD oil has little to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)(1).
  • Individuals allergic to THC may take broad-spectrum CBD(2)
  • Consumers may look for a broad-spectrum CBD product’s certificate of analysis to confirm whether the product has trace amounts of THC

What Is Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil?

Broad-spectrum CBD oil is a mixture of CBD and a carrier oil, such as medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil) and coconut oil(3).

CBD products come in varied forms. However, experts say individuals taking CBD in oil form, topical or oral may experience the product’s effects much later after ingestion(4).

Individuals may take CBD oil with a dropper or spray. Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., a professor at the State University of New York and author of “Understanding Marijuana,” suggested directly applying CBD oil drops under the tongue or inside the cheek to achieve the product’s optimal effect(5).

According to Earleywine, it may be best to wait for a few seconds before swallowing the liquid. Otherwise, the compound may go straight to the digestive tract, which may prolong the reaction time of the medication(6).

Individuals may also apply CBD as an oil-based balm, which may help with skin inflammation and anxiety(7).

The body does not absorb topicals similarly to other product types. Thus, some CBD topicals may be manufactured with higher amounts of CBD, making these products more expensive(8).

Benefits of Broad-Spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD consists of all cannabinoids and phytochemicals in cannabis, except for THC(9). THC, prevalent in marijuana plants, may increase anxiety among individuals at high doses(10).

Since broad-spectrum CBD is almost THC-free, individuals who seek its therapeutic effects without experiencing the “high” from THC may opt to use this variant(11).

What Are the Differences Between Full-Spectrum CBD, Broad-Spectrum CBD, and CBD Isolate?

There are three types of CBD: full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate.

Full-spectrum CBD products contain all the extracts from the hemp plant in their complete form, including terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, and less than 0.3% THC(12).  

Flavonoids are responsible for giving plants their distinct colors, while terpenes give the plant’s varied strains their distinct smell.

CBG (cannabigerol) is often referred to as the mother of cannabinoids. It is the principal precursor of phytocannabinoids in its acid form(13). Although not as abundant as CBD, CBG may help individuals with high blood pressure(14). 

Meanwhile, CBN (cannabinol) is purported to have sedative and anticonvulsant properties(15).

The least processed among the three forms is full-spectrum CBD oil. Its primary identifier is the presence of THC in this variant.

On the other hand, broad-spectrum CBD oil contains all the compounds in cannabis, including terpenes and flavonoids. However, unlike full-spectrum CBD oil, broad-spectrum CBD oil has little to no THC(16)

While experts say that the benefits of the entourage effect include a higher efficacy rate in CBD use, some individuals may opt to take broad-spectrum CBD to avoid allergic reactions that THC may cause(17).

To confirm whether a broad-spectrum CBD product is indeed THC-free, individuals may refer to a product’s certificate of analysis (COA). 

The COA is usually available on the CBD brand’s website and shows a detailed report of the product’s actual cannabinoid content.

Meanwhile, isolates contain pure CBD and no other phytochemicals and cannabinoids(18). Therefore, the entourage effect is unlikely to happen when an individual takes isolate CBD.

Is Broad-Spectrum CBD Better Than CBD Isolate and Full-Spectrum CBD?

No study has determined whether broad-spectrum CBD is better than the other two forms of CBD in terms of health benefits. 

In addition, existing studies have shown that some CBD products used in third-party labs are labeled erroneously(19). This situation makes it difficult to examine the effectivity of the three CBD forms.

The only CBD-based medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the FDA is Epidiolex, an isolate CBD. While this drug may help manage seizures, it also has downsides, such as diarrhea and sleepiness(20).

CBD by itself does not produce a euphoric “high.” However, some CBD products contain small amounts of THC, which may have psychoactive effects(21)

Individuals who want to avoid THC while retaining the other natural elements extracted from the hemp plant may opt for broad-spectrum CBD

Meanwhile, since isolate products consist of CBD alone, they lack the synergistic effect from the combined cannabinoids and phytochemicals present in full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD.

Nonetheless, individuals seeking help for their medical condition should consult a healthcare professional before deciding which of the three types of CBD to take.

How Is Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil Made?

Companies produce CBD oil by extracting the cannabinoid from the cannabis plant with a solvent. Here are three ways CBD oil is made:

1. CO2 Extraction

CO2 extraction uses carbon dioxide as a solvent, then combined with the whole plant to produce CBD once exposed to normal temperatures(22).

CO2 extraction may be expensive in production(23). However, this method may yield concentrated and significant amounts of CBD extract without harsh chemicals, thus producing high-quality CBD(24). 

2. Ethanol Extraction

Commercially available CBD products are likely to have been extracted with ethanol for cost-effectiveness(25).

Although ethanol extraction is efficient, it may be harsher than CO2 extraction as ethanol is a more potent solvent(26)

After combining ethanol with cannabis, the solvent is squeezed out along with other essential cannabinoids through a vacuum, thus lowering the efficacy of the resulting CBD extract(27).

3. Flash Chromatography

Flash chromatography is an upgraded method of chromatography that results in a quicker and more practical extraction process. This technique uses air pressure to separate organic compounds(28).

Pharmaceutical companies favor this extraction method to purify compounds(29). This process may result in a more concentrated final product and, hence, more potent CBD extracts.

How to Know and Choose the Right Broad-Spectrum CBD 

Given the lack of evidence on the effectiveness of CBD itself, there may be no conclusive method to determine whether an individual should choose only broad-spectrum CBD(30).

However, individuals who wish to take CBD without the psychoactive effects of THC may consider purchasing broad-spectrum CBD oil.

The “entourage effect” may occur because broad-spectrum CBD oil tinctures consist of several phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids) and plant chemicals in the hemp extract.      

Coined by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and Dr. Shimon Ben-Shabat, the entourage effect happens when CBD, THC, terpenes, and other phytochemicals naturally present in cannabis work together to achieve a better healing effect(31)

Moreover, broad-spectrum CBD may be safe for individuals allergic to THC(32).

To better understand the benefits and risks of CBD products, individuals are encouraged to seek medical advice from a healthcare professional.

How to Use Broad-Spectrum CBD

Generally, CBD products come as CBD oils, tinctures, and topicals like lotions and creams

CBD products may also come in the form of edibles and capsules. Individuals may choose foods such as CBD chocolate bars and CBD gummies, depending on their preference.

CBD vape pens are another option. For example, CBD vape pens may help with anxiety as they may allow CBD to interact with the serotonin receptors in the body, thus reducing symptoms of anxiety(33).

However, studies showed that vaping may damage the lungs and cause cardiovascular problems(34), so caution is advised.

Meanwhile, oral CBD products may come as CBD oils, applied directly underneath the tongue. 

The tongue consists of sublingual glands situated under it. These glands may help individuals absorb CBD oils without ingesting them. 

On the other hand, research has shown positive results when CBD oil is applied topically to specific parts of the body to help with pain relief and blisters(35).  

While cannabis may be an effective remedy for chronic pain in adults, more evidence is needed to confirm that a topical broad-spectrum CBD product may be an anti-inflammatory treatment(36).

A study suggested that broad-spectrum CBD may be effective due to the entourage effect when its components interact(37).

Nonetheless, it may be best to consult a healthcare professional to know which form of broad-spectrum CBD may cater best to an individual’s needs.

Individuals may also consult a healthcare professional to determine whether CBD may help with specific health conditions.

Safety and Side Effects of Broad-Spectrum CBD

The FDA has reported that some CBD products contain heavy metals that may be harmful to individuals’ health(38)

Moreover, the FDA reminds individuals of CBD’s potential side effects amidst the public’s growing interest in the hemp plant for its therapeutic properties. 

CBD may cause loss of appetite, fatigue, and sleepiness(39)

Drawbacks of Broad-Spectrum CBD

Because of the absence of THC in some broad-spectrum CBD products, the synergistic activity of the cannabinoids and phytochemicals in broad-spectrum CBD products may not address certain diseases effectively(40).

A study on first-time use of CBD among individuals experiencing neuropathic pain stated that cannabis extracts that contained THC were more effective than extracts with cannabidiol alone(41).

The Endogenous Cannabinoid System and How CBD Works

Recent studies discussed the contributions of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to the body’s overall physiology. The ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis, the body’s self-regulating mechanism(42).

When the body’s immune system induces a fever to help deal with a virus, the ECS signals the immune system to cool down to restore homeostasis and achieve overall wellness

The complex network of neurons sends signals to the brain and tells the organ to slow down when needed. This phenomenon is also known as “retrograde signaling(43).” 

Within the ECS, there are cannabinoid receptors called CB1 and CB2 receptors.

CB1 receptors are usually found in the body’s nervous system, while CB2 receptors mainly reside in the immune system(44).

As an individual takes cannabinoids, they react with CB1 receptors to inform the body’s nervous system of the pain the individual is experiencing.

Additionally, cannabinoids connect with CB2 receptors and interact with chemicals like serotonin to help reduce pain(45).

Experts also refer to the CB1 and CB2 receptors as “retrograde messengers” as these receptors boost the body’s immune response when working with cannabinoids(46).

With the ECS, the body then becomes capable of controlling symptoms of inflammation as well as regulating the individual’s mood and hormone system(47).


  • Can individuals get broad-spectrum CBD on prescription?

At present, the FDA has not approved any existing broad-spectrum CBD product as a treatment for any medical condition. Thus, prescribing this form of CBD by healthcare professionals is federally illegal.

The only CBD product approved by the agency is the CBD drug Epidiolex, a purified pharmaceutical-grade CBD medication to treat epileptic seizures. 

Epidiolex is only composed of CBD and no THC(48). Thus, this drug may be considered an isolate CBD product.

  • Does broad-spectrum CBD get individuals high?

Broad-spectrum CBD oil products are nearly THC-free(49). Thus, these products may be less likely to produce a euphoric “high.”

However, because of the small amount of THC found in some types of CBD, subtle psychoactive effects may be felt by the individual taking CBD. 

CBD may cause drowsiness and fatigue(50).

Test results on the effects of CBD in adults postulated that an individual suffering from anxiety may safely take up to 600 mg of CBD(51)

However, the suitable dosage of broad-spectrum CBD may depend on the individual’s condition and overall physiological attributes.

For a more accurate understanding of the recommended doses of CBD, it is best to seek a healthcare professional’s advice.

  • Does broad-spectrum CBD show up on drug tests?

Drug tests usually detect the presence of THC. Thus, THC-free CBD products, such as broad-spectrum CBD oil, should theoretically not show up in the drug test(52).

Marijuana, a strain of cannabis, consists of high amounts of the psychoactive compound THC, which is controversial for its addictive nature(53).

In 2018, the Agriculture Improvement Act or the 2018 Farm Bill stated that grown hemp is different from marijuana. 

The bill also indicated that cannabis and cannabis extracts pass the Controlled Substance Act or CSA as long as their THC content is less than 0.3%(54).

However, whether CBD is legal in the U.S. depends on the state. For example, Idaho, Kansas, and Nebraska currently do not have a legalized cannabis access program, making CBD illegal in these areas(55).

Since cannabis use remains disputed in the U.S., the FDA regulates the medical use of cannabis in certain states.

To know more about the legality of cannabis in a particular state, individuals must visit the state’s respective government website.

  1. Cannabidiol primer for healthcare professionals. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7340472/
  2. An emerging allergen: Cannabis sativa allergy in a climate of recent legalization. https://aacijournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13223-020-00447-9
  3. CBD oil for pain: What the research shows. https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/cbd-oil-for-pain-what-the-research-shows/113198/
  4. How to Safely Use CBD: Should You Inhale, Spray, Apply, or Eat It?
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Cannabidiol primer for healthcare professionals. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7340472/
  10. Effects of Marijuana on Mental Health: Anxiety Disorders.
  11. Cannabidiol primer for healthcare professionals. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7340472/
  12. Cannabidiol primer for healthcare professionals. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7340472/
  13. Cannabigerol.
  14. Healing with CBD, page 278. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  15. Cannabinol
  16. Cannabidiol primer for healthcare professionals. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7340472/
  17. An emerging allergen: Cannabis sativa allergy in a climate of recent legalization. https://aacijournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13223-020-00447-9
  18. Healing with CBD, page 80. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  19. Nearly 70 percent of cannabidiol extracts sold online are mislabeled, study shows. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171107112244.htm
  20. FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms
  21. CBD products are everywhere. But do they work? https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/cbd-products-are-everywhere-but-do-they-work
  22. Utilisation of Design of Experiments Approach to Optimise Supercritical Fluid Extraction of Medicinal Cannabis.
  23. Healing with CBD, page 241. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  24. A Comprehensive Review on the Techniques for Extraction of Bioactive Compounds from Medicinal Cannabis.
  25. Healing with CBD, page 243. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  26. Ibid.
  27. Ibid.
  28. BRIEF REVIEW ON: FLASH CHROMATOGRAPHY. https://ijpsr.com/bft-article/brief-review-on-flash-chromatography/
  29. General methods for flash chromatography using disposable columns. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC2780649/
  30. Cannabidiol (CBD)-what we know and what we don’t. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476
  31. Healing with CBD, page 92. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  32. An emerging allergen: Cannabis sativa allergy in a climate of recent legalization. https://aacijournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13223-020-00447-9
  33. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/
  34. 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-truths-you-need-to-know-about-vaping
  35. Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6222489/
  36. Does CBD help with arthritis pain?https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/does-cbd-help-with-arthritis-pain-2020041019418
  37. Cannabidiol primer for healthcare professionals. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC7340472/
  38. FDA warns 15 companies for illegally selling various products containing cannabidiol as agency details safety concerns. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-warns-15-companies-illegally-selling-various-products-containing-cannabidiol-agency-details
  39. What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700
  40. Healing with CBD, page 93. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  41. Initial experiences with medicinal extracts of cannabis for chronic pain: results from 34 ‘N of 1’ studies. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15096238/
  42. Healing with CBD, page 59. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  43. Ibid.
  44. The Therapeutic Aspects of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) for Cancer and their Development: From Nature to Laboratory. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5412000/
  45. Healing with CBD, page 46. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  46. Healing with CBD, page 60. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AGlxnhS2SoFeOXEuysv75bd_C9pEnwsU/view
  47. Ibid.
  48. Emerging Use of Epidiolex (Cannabidiol) in Epilepsy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7439947/
  49. Cannabidiol primer for healthcare professionals. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC7340472/
  50. What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700
  51. Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7092763/
  52. Does CBD show up on a drug test? https://www.drugs.com/medical-answers/cbd-show-drug-test-3516640/
  53. Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijuana-and-cannabinoids-what-you-need-to-know
  54. Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/congressional-testimony/hemp-production-and-2018-farm-bill-07252019
  55. State Medical Cannabis Laws. https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx
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