Also known as whole-plant cannabidiol (CBD) oil, full-spectrum CBD oil is a cannabis oil with high concentrations of CBD, as well as all other cannabinoids, terpenes, and trace amounts of THC found in the cannabis plant. 

“I've heard full-spectrum CBD oil is preferable to isolated CBD.”

“What's the difference between broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD oil?”

More about full-spectrum CBD oil

When a CBD oil product claims to be the result of a full-spectrum extraction process, that means the plant's original terpenes and other types of cannabinoids, including cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), and trace amounts of THC, have not been filtered out during the extraction process. 

Before you can choose a CBD oil that may work for you, from full-spectrum to other product types, it's important to know the difference between hemp-derived CBD oil and marijuana-derived CBD oil. 

Following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the U.S. government effectively legalized industrial hemp-derived CBD products that contain no more than 0.3% THC, placing hemp-based CBD oil under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Because industrial hemp-derived products only have trace amounts of THC, this type of CBD oil will not produce any intoxicating effects in consumers. Many hemp-derived CBD products can be purchased online

Marijuana-derived CBD oil typically contains both THC and CBD, the measurements of which vary depending on the CBD-to-THC ratio. Marijuana plants typically have copious amounts of resin, often containing significantly higher levels of both THC and CBD than industrial hemp plants. CBD oil that contains more than 0.3% THC can only be purchased in legal adult-use states and by patients in select legal medical marijuana states, making hemp-derived CBD oil the only legally viable option for some.  

Are all CBD oils the same?

No, and not only because of the distinction mentioned above. There are many different products. The easiest way to understand how CBD oils are different is to put them into one of three categories: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains the full spectrum of compounds from a high-CBD cannabis or hemp plant. Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains a nearly full spectrum of compounds, but with the trace amounts of THC removed. CBD isolate, also known as raw CBD oil, strips away all other cannabinoids, leaving pure CBD. Full and broad-spectrum CBD oils may also contain varying doses of actual CBD.

There are three categories of CBD oil: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

When shopping for CBD oil, keep these oil types in mind as a basic CBD buying guide. When purchasing full-spectrum CBD oil, it's also helpful to know signs of safe, authentic CBD oil labeling, and avoid any product that makes big claims about curing diseases or conditions.  

Can you buy full-spectrum CBD oil online?

As long as it's hemp-derived, you may be able to find full-spectrum CBD oil in online stores. Most online CBD oil purchases can be made at a brand's own website through an internal checkout. 

Full-spectrum CBD oil vs. CBD isolate

Is it more preferable to have a full spectrum of compounds in CBD oil or a pure CBD isolate? There is no definitive answer, given the myriad reasons a person may be choosing CBD oil. What works medicinally for one individual may not work for another. With that in mind, a full spectrum of cannabis compounds can be more effective than a single compound, including CBD, on its own. Cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant work together synergistically, potentially becoming more therapeutic as an ensemble, in what's referred to as the ensemble or entourage effect.

Does CBD oil get you high?

No. CBD will not create the same high that THC does. While the effects are completely different than THC, it's technically true that CBD is a psychoactive substance, which is defined as a chemical substance that interacts with the central nervous system and alters brain function, resulting in temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness, and behavior. However, unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and will not make you feel stoned or buzzed. 

Do you need a prescription for CBD oil?

No. You don't need a doctor's recommendation or prescription to use hemp-derived CBD oil. In fact, following the legalization of industrial hemp-based products, CBD oil can be purchased online or, in many states, even in local pharmacies. However, access to marijuana-derived CBD oil containing higher levels of THC is limited to states with medical or adult-use legalization in place. 

What does CBD feel like?

CBD is said by many to have a relaxing and soothing effect, but you won't necessarily feel this non-intoxicating cannabinoid the same way you would THC. To explain how CBD truly feels, we need to understand how both THC and CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is made up of endocannabinoids, receptors that cannabinoids bond to, and enzymes that break them down. 

While THC activates the CB1 receptors, CBD induces the opposite outcome, instead inhibiting activity in the CB1 receptors. In fact, existing research suggests that this inhibition is enhanced when combined with THC, leading to a more mellow high and reducing the adverse effects of THC, such as anxiety and paranoia. 

The interaction between CBD and the body may create a feeling of relaxation and improved mood.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

The interaction between CBD and the body may create a feeling of relaxation and improved mood, and offers therapeutic value in the treatment of pain, inflammation, anxiety, and other ailments. 

Does CBD make you paranoid?

No. Using even high doses of CBD will not cause you to have a paranoia or an uneasy high feeling. Although both paranoia and anxiety have been reported as adverse side effects of THC, CBD consumers are not at risk of encountering the same mental distress. According to the Mayo Clinic, the Minnesota-based nonprofit academic medical center, side effects of CBD use are typically limited to dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. 

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on February 1, 2021.