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Our team thoroughly researches and evaluates the recommendations we make on our site. To establish that the product manufacturers addressed safety and efficacy standards, we:
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We do the research so you can find trusted products for your health and wellness.
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Let’s break down the difference between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD. We’ll share some favorite products in both categories.

You’ll find CBD products in three forms: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate.

  • Full-spectrum CBD: Full-spectrum CBD contains several components of the cannabis plant, including trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), additional cannabinoids, and terpenes. Federally legal full-spectrum products will always have less than 0.3% THC. In states where cannabis is fully legal, you may also be able to find full-spectrum products with higher THC levels.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD: This type of CBD doesn’t contain THC — in theory. It may still contain trace amounts, but is significantly less than full-spectrum products contain. Additionally, it also contains other components of the cannabis plant like terpenes, but not as many as full-spectrum CBD. Consider it the middle child of the three CBD choices.
  • CBD isolate: Also referred to as pure CBD, CBD isolate contains no other compounds found in cannabis, except for the CBD itself. Think of it as CBD isolated from all other plant compounds.

To help narrow your CBD search, we rounded up some of the best full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products out there.

Each product we chose meets the standards we set for safety, quality, and transparency. That means each item on this list:

  • is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • is made by a company that discloses the source of their hemp
  • contains no more than 0.3% THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA

We also considered:

  • company certifications and manufacturing processes
  • product potency
  • overall ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:

To learn more about our product vetting process, go here.

One of the biggest benefits of full-spectrum CBD is that you’ll get what’s known as the entourage effect. This theory says that when multiple components of cannabis work together, you reap more benefits than when taking each individually.

These components include:

  • phytocannabinoids (like CBD and THC)
  • flavonoids
  • terpenes (compounds that affect cannabis’s scent and flavor)

If you want to maximize the benefits of cannabis, full-spectrum CBD could be your best bet.

One 2011 review found that phytocannabinoids and terpenes taken together may help with pain, inflammation, and anxiety. Researchers noted that CBD showed the most promise for certain brain-related disorders and skin conditions.

However, a potential downside to full-spectrum CBD is that if you take a large enough dose of a potent enough product, you may feel “high” due to the THC.

But that does not mean that all full-spectrum products will make you feel intoxicated. Small doses of lower potency products are unlikely to produce any euphoric effects.

Finally, since full-spectrum products contain THC, you may run a higher risk of testing positive for cannabis should you take a drug test.

One potential plus of broad-spectrum CBD is that you have the highest chance of keeping a clear mind — no THC means no “high” feeling.

A drawback, though, is that CBD sans THC may not be quite as effective as the two together. More research is needed, but the entourage effect suggests they may work best together.

That’s not to say broad-spectrum products won’t give you any of the entourage effect benefits at all. Broad-spectrum CBD still contains some other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, which may offer benefits beyond the CBD alone.

Heads up on drug testing

Because CBD products are not regulated in the same way as drugs or supplements, it’s possible that there are trace amounts of THC in any CBD product you buy, including broad-spectrum. If you’re drug tested, you may want to avoid CBD products altogether.

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You may see various claims about the benefits of CBD, but clinical studies are still limited. At this time, scientific evidence backs up health benefits in these areas. Keep in mind that besides seizures, all of these are off-label uses. The only FDA-approved CBD product is prescription Epidiolex.

Pain

A 2018 research review of CBD looked at studies between 1975 and early 2018, concluding that cannabis, including both CBD and THC, has shown some benefit for pain in animal studies.

However, human research on CBD for pain is more limited.

  • A small 2019 study of people with chronic pain found that CBD improved pain and reduced participants’ opioid use. Another study also published in 2019 supported CBD’s potential to reduce cravings for opioids. It involved individuals with heroin use disorder but drug abstinent.
  • A 2018 study involving people with osteoarthritis found that 250 milligrams (mg) of CBD daily produced a statistically significant reduction in knee pain compared to a placebo. In this study, CBD was administered daily via a transdermal patch containing synthetic CBD gel.
  • A 2006 study involving 75 people with rheumatoid arthritis found that Sativex, a medication that contains both THC and CBD and is not approved for use in the United States, was shown effective in relieving pain.
  • A 2020 research review concluded that the use of CBD for the treatment of chronic pain shows it has a wide range of effectiveness.

Anxiety and depression

CBD may help with different kinds of anxiety, including social anxiety disorder (SAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Two studies — one from 2011 and one from 2019 — found that CBD helped reduce anxiety levels in people with SAD, while multiple studies have shown that CBD can help with symptoms specific to PTSD.

Sleep

Since research has shown CBD has the potential to reduce symptoms of pain and anxiety, it may improve sleep quality if those are issues keeping you up at night.

Epilepsy

The FDA has approved CBD-based Epidiolex to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two rare forms of epilepsy. It can be used to treat the conditions in adults and children over 1 years old.

The more info the brand shares about their products and manufacturing standards, the better.

CBD is not regulated by the FDA in the same way as drugs or supplements, so it’s possible for subpar products to slip onto the market.

To make sure you’re getting a quality product, the first thing you’ll want to look for is an up-to-date certificate of analysis (COA) from a third-party lab. It’s best if the lab is ISO-17025 certified — basically, that means they’ve been certified that they produce accurate results.

Look over the COA to make sure the product contains as much THC and CBD as advertised. The best products will also display contaminant testing so you can be sure you’re not ingesting any potentially harmful substances.

It’s also a good idea to check where the company grows its hemp and how it actually manufactures its products — like what extraction methods it uses.

All this information should be pretty accessible on the company’s website, although sometimes you may need to reach out by email.

You have plenty of options when it comes to how you can use CBD products depending on what you buy.

Some of the most popular products include:

Pills and gummies are pretty straightforward. With oils, you’ll usually want to place them under your tongue or add them to foods or drinks.

With topicals, you can apply them wherever you want to experience targeted relief. However, it’s always best to read the package directions. Especially if you’re using a topical, let your doctor know where you intend to apply it and ask if it’s safe.

One thing you’ll want to pay attention to is dosage. Everyone differs in what they need, depending on individual factors like weight, health, and how their body reacts to cannabis.

It’s best to start small, see how the product is working for you, and build up from there if you need more. Additionally, talk with your doctor or a knowledgeable cannabis clinician to get a recommendation.

CBD is generally considered safe, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), but that does not mean it’s without side effects.

In studies examining those with epilepsy and psychotic disorders, a few side effects popped up, like:

  • sleepiness
  • diarrhea
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight

Keep in mind that if you take a large dose of a potent full-spectrum product, you may also feel some of the effects of THC, especially if you’re new to cannabis.

It’s best to talk with your doctor before taking CBD. CBD can interact with some medications, so your doctor should be able to help you navigate any potentially harmful mixing.

Research also suggests that having a high fat meal can actually increase CBD in the blood, enhancing your risk of side effects. So keep that in mind when you’re having CBD around mealtime.

If you’re looking for a health boost from CBD but want to skip the THC effects, broad-spectrum is probably your best bet.

If you don’t mind THC and want to potentially get more benefits out of your CBD product, full-spectrum is probably the way to go.

CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, with none of the other cannabinoids or compounds from the cannabis plant. That means there’s no chance of benefiting from the entourage effect. Still, there’s research that suggests CBD isolate may offer some benefits.

Unless you’re shopping for flavored products, isolates tend to be free of both flavor and odor. That makes them a good choice for people who don’t like the earthiness of regular CBD.

Products made with CBD isolate can also be a good option if you want to avoid THC altogether.

Ongoing research shows that both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD may offer benefits for specific conditions. Since this could be due to the entourage effect, full-spectrum CBD may be most appropriate for conditions like chronic pain or anxiety.

However, there may be reasons that someone wants to avoid THC altogether. In that case, broad-spectrum CBD products will still offer most of the naturally occurring cannabinoids and compounds in the cannabis plant.

Keep in mind that using CBD is very much a trial-and-error process. It may be worth exploring both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products to find what works best for you.

CBD doesn’t cause the same kind of “high” associated with THC. CBD is nonintoxicating, but potent products or large doses of full-spectrum products could cause an euphoric effect.

Most drug tests look only for THC. In that case, it’s unlikely that a CBD product would trigger a positive test unless you’re using a potent full-spectrum product.

Additionally, some drug tests do check for CBD. In that case, any CBD product could show up.

If you’re concerned about drug testing, you may want to consider broad-spectrum or isolate CBD products or skip CBD altogether. Be aware that any CBD product has the potential to include trace levels of THC.

CBD is generally considered safe, but some people may still experience side effects. These include:

  • changes in appetite or weight
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue

Children and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t use CBD.

Talk with your doctor before you try CBD, whether it’s broad-spectrum or full-spectrum.

The biggest difference between the two is the THC content, so it’s important to decide if you want THC in your product or if you prefer to skip it. Then make sure you read the labels and choose a quality product before you make your purchase.

Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal at the federal level. Some states have legalized CBD, so be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.