CBD Isolate vs Distillate: Which One Is Right for You?

CBD Isolate vs Distillate

Posted on October 29th, 2020

How the world views cannabis is rapidly changing. Each day, more and more cannabis products are entering the market. Thus, making it increasingly difficult to know which to choose for people just getting into the trend. CBD products have significantly grown in popularity over the past few years because of the benefits they offer. Still, there’s a lot of misconceptions regarding CBD and cannabis products in general. Terms such as CBD distillate or isolate on product labels can make it even more confusing. It’s essential to understand what these names actually mean and how each affects you.

First things first, CBD is short for ‘cannabidiol.’ It’s one of the many compounds found in the hemp plant. However, it lacks the THC cannabinoid, so it has no psychoactive effects. Products that contain CBD take many forms, including CBD edibles, CBD oil, CBD enhanced entrees, and CBD topical creams. That’s because CBD helps patients with insomnia, anxiety, chronic nausea, depression, and more. Plus, CBD works with no risk of severe side effects or overdoses.

With the basics out of the way, it’s time to get to know two common names in the CBD marketplace: CBD distillate and CBD isolate. By the end of this post, you’ll understand precisely what they mean, what’s their difference, and which one is right for you.

A Quick Note on Full Spectrum CBD and Broad-Spectrum CBD

Before we get into the CBD isolate vs distillate discussion, let’s first start by discussing what full-spectrum CBD is.

Full-spectrum CBD are CBD products containing a higher amount of other natural organic compounds. Those include cannabinoids, aromatic terpenes, and other hemp compounds. Full-spectrum CBD products may also hold up to 0.3% of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the cannabinoid in the cannabis plant with psychoactive properties. However, such low content isn’t enough to give you a “high” feeling.

Broad-spectrum CBD is simply a more refined version of full-spectrum CBD designed to have zero THC content. However, it can contain other non-psychoactive cannabinoids, including oils, terpenes, vitamins, and flavonoids. Due to the sheer amount of drug tests conducted for work, probation, or medical procedures, broad-spectrum is a handy staple in the CBD industry.

CBD Isolate vs Distillate: Definitions

What is CBD Isolate?

CBD Isolate vs Distillate white crystal isolate

As the name suggests, CBD isolate is an isolated form of CBD, which essentially creates pure CBD. The isolation process entails removing all the other natural compounds. Thus, leaving CBD as a pure crystalline powder or solid devoid of any distinct smell or taste. CBD isolates should also be free from any harmful additives, heavy metals, and contaminants.

Many CBD products end up having organic, earthy aroma or taste due to the full spectrum CBD used in them. And while this flavor is typically not extreme, some people are simply not fond of it. For them, CBD isolates are perfect for going into a variety of different edible, drinkable, and smokable products.

You can also find CBD isolates in a great variety of products. For instance, many CBD gummies and oils are made using CBD isolate. Depending on where you buy from, the CBD used will be 99% pure or higher. If you purchase from a good supplier, the isolate shouldn’t contain any form of contaminants or additives.

For those worried about an upcoming drug test, CBD isolates may be an excellent choice for you. Since CBD is isolated from all the other cannabinoids, there’s usually zero THC content in the product. So long as the CBD in the product is pure, then it should not get you high nor show up in a drug test.

What Is CBD Distillate?

On the other hand, CBD distillate contains all of the entire hemp plant’s benefits without THC. It’s actually a type of broad-spectrum oil. CBD distillate is generally a combination of cannabinoids, vitamins, terpenes, and fatty acids. All beneficial for the human body. It still contains negligible amounts of THC. This because CBD distillate usually goes through specific refining processes to remove most of the THC. As such, it can’t get you high, and the product is entirely legal.

CBD distillate is very popular among users due to the ‘entourage effect.’ The effect points out that compounds within the cannabis plant act synergistically with one another. Meaning, different compounds amplify the therapeutical effect that a single cannabinoid gives out. Thus, the more compounds it retains besides THC. The more the user will feel its therapeutic effects without feeling ‘high.’

CBD distillate is also relatively pure, with many cannabidiol distillate oils being over 80% CBD. However, it also contains other natural organic compounds. It does have a pleasant flavor that’s ideal for use in vaporizable oils, CBD capsules, and tinctures. There are many different cannabinoids present in CBD distillate in different amounts. The most popular among them are the following:

CBD Isolate vs Distillate oil

Cannabigerol (CBG)

CBG, like CBD, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, which is also technically a precursor to CBD, THC, and CBD. Studies show that CBG has the potential to provide specific health benefits to help ease anxiety, pain, muscle cramps, and depression.

Cannabinol (CBN)

While CBN is still under study, some things about its health benefits look promising. For instance, it seems to work well as a sleep aid because of its sedative effects. CBN appears to be the compound responsible for the feelings of relaxation and calmness that cannabis is known for.

Cannabichromene (CBC)

CBC has not received much attention or praise. However, it exhibits antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties. It also appears to have potential when addressing anxiety, depression, and migraines.

CBD distillate also contains terpenes that may be helpful in inducing certain sensations. For instance, linalool may be useful for regulating sleep patterns. It’s also the most prevalent terpene found in lavender. Lavender, by the way, is a staple in aromatherapy to help induce feelings of sleepiness.

What to Choose: CBD Isolate vs Distillate

There’s no simple answer to this question.

When to Choose CBD Isolate

When looking for the right product for you, you will want to consider the differences between CBD distillate and CBD isolate. As pointed out in the definitions, the main difference between the two is that an isolate only contains CBD. At the same time, distillates have a variety of organic compounds found in the cannabis plant that help generate the entourage effect.

Until very recently, the only form of CBD distillate you could buy came from the whole plant. This option gave you a product that had all the benefits of the entire plant, and the quality of the plant usually determined the quality of the oil. Unfortunately, the FDA has responded rather harshly to such products. For instance, if cola buds contain higher than 0.3% THC, they’re considered illegal as per the FDA guidelines. Luckily, this has slowly started changing. They can now take out THC from full-spectrum oil, which enables manufacturers to create broad-spectrum oil instead.

CBD is legal in all of the 50 U.S. states. Yet, people working in law enforcement, construction, airports have drug testing policies in place. They should opt to avoid any distillate or full-spectrum products entirely. The trace levels of THC contained in these products could potentially cause you to fail a drug test and even lose your job. For these people, CBD isolates are the way to go.

Similarly, if you’re trying to avoid that unavoidable, plant-like, musky flavor of unrefined CBD, you may want to try out something a bit purer. Again, something made with CBD isolate will be more refined and may hence be far preferred.

When to Choose CBD Distillate

Keep in mind that while having only CBD is not harmful to your health, it’s simply not the way nature intended cannabis to work. Hemp plants have evolved for thousands of years to work in a certain way. It’s a known fact that the many compounds contained in hemp work together to create an entourage effect.

If you’re trying to get the most benefits out of your CBD product or are trying to alleviate some severe conditions such as insomnia or inflammation, you may want to use the most potent products you can find. These would most likely be CBD distillate due to their enhanced entourage effect.

CBD Isolate vs Distillate – The Takeaway

The only way you can know which is the best CBD for you is weighing out your health goals. Match your expectations against the pros and cons of CBD isolate and distillate. One of the benefits of both isolate and distillate forms of CBD is that you don’t need to use many products to get substantial potential benefits. This is great for those who are so far required to use a lot of CBD daily for it.

The best way to find what works best for you is to try out a product you’re interested in. Read some reviews left by previous users to help you decide. Start with small doses, and then gradually work up your dosage while evaluating their effects until you find the right dose. Only by doing research and trying out different products that you can find the best product for you.


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