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Types of CBD Extracts

CBD (cannabidiol) is a molecule, called a cannabinoid, extracted from the hemp plant: a hemp extract. A cannabinoid is a molecule containing the active makeup of the cannabis plant. CBD products and other hemp products are found everywhere from your local health food store to the kiosk in the mall, but what exactly is in these products?

In fact, there are several different types of CBD products and the benefits each carry can differ depending on the makeup of the extract. To begin, hemp and marijuana are from the same species of plant, cannabis, but they are not the same.

Marijuana contains higher levels of THC, the cannabinoid that produces the feeling of being “high”. Hemp contains higher levels of CBD and other cannabinoids that are non-psychoactive. There can be small amounts of THC in hemp, but legally it must be below 0.3% THC. This is also true for all products that are in the hemp field. 

Marijuana extracts usually focus on THC and hemp extracts focus on CBD and other, non-psychoactive cannabinoids. The four main types of CBD are: isolate, nano-isolate, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum. We will get into the different types of CBD and their similarities shortly. 

One thing we hope to make abundantly clear is that hemp extracts (hemp oils) are NOT the same as hemp seed extracts (hemp seed oils). Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant and contains zero CBD or any other cannabinoids.

types of CBD
(Types of CBD by Thrive Flower)

CBD Isolate

Isolate is called so because this extraction is actually an isolation of just one cannabinoid. This could be CBD isolate, CBDa isolate, CBG isolate, CBN, CBC, or any other cannabinoid. Isolated extractions can reach up to almost 100% purity and because of this purity, many products on the market use CBD isolate to create their CBD products. This form of extract is also the cheapest types of CBD to purchase.

Nano-Isolate CBD

One of the newer types of CBD is nano-isolate. Nano-isolate is, as you may have guessed, nano-sized isolate! Breaking down the CBD molecules from their original size allows the nano-molecules to be absorbed by water and the body at higher levels. Nano refers to an extremely small scale of just 1-100 nanometers.

For reference, the width of a piece of hair is about 50 micrometers, or about 5000x a nanometer. The raised bioavailability makes nano-isolate an attractive extract, but with that comes a much higher price tag than other types of CBD. The bioavailability of nano-isolate can possibly reach as high as 45%.  

Full Spectrum CBD

On the spectrum of cannabinoids ranging from CBD to CBN to CBG and to the psychoactive side of cannabis, THC and THCa. Isolated extractions focus on one particular cannabinoid on the spectrum. Full-spectrum extracts have a little bit of everything in there (there must legally be less than 0.3% THC in the products). This enables what is known as the entourage effect. The benefits of certain cannabinoids can be aided by the presence of other cannabinoids and terpenes. The exact mechanisms to these synergistic effects are still being studied.

Broad Spectrum CBD

Many CBD users have the desire to reap the benefits of the entourage effect without having any traces of THC in the extract. This specific type of extraction is called “Broad Spectrum extract”. It is everything Full-Spectrum is, just without the THC. Reasons someone may wish to totally avoid THC are numerous. It could be a fear of failing a drug test or the desire to entirely avoid any psychoactive effects. 


Taking any hemp-extracted product can be a positive step in your wellness journey. Knowing exactly what types of CBD can help steer you clear of subpar products. Knowledge can help you make a more informed decision when it comes to exactly which CBD product to pick off the shelf.

Using cannabis, specifically CBD products, to fight the cause and symptoms of pain, sleep issues, anxiety, and more. Isolates are most notably found in topical products such as muscle gels, pain salves, lotions, facemasks, etc. Nano-isolate topicals have the additional benefit of being small enough molecules to penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. Many CBD gummies are also made with CBD isolate as it is easy to mix in and cheap to manufacture while still maintaining the benefits CBD users desire.

Full and broad spectrum extracts make up the bulk of tinctures on the market as the oily consistency makes it an easy mix into the base of many tinctures (mct coconut oil or hemp seed oil). Nano-tinctures have also made a place for themselves in the market as being a higher bioavailability option. This is reflected in the usually higher price tag. Hemp flower in its raw form is considered full-spectrum because it contains all the cannabinoids and terpenes that occur naturally in the plant.

Adding additional cannabinoids may trigger the entourage effect and maximize the benefits your CBD product is offering. For example, CBG may have additional pain management benefits. The important notes to remember are as follows for types of CBD:

  • Isolate: Isolated extraction containing 99% pure cannabinoid
  • Nano-Isolate: Isolate molecules broken down to increase bioavailability
  • Full-Spectrum: Full-spectrum extracts contain small amounts of all or most of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant. The entourage effect may increase benefits.
  • Broad-Spectrum: Broad-spectrum extracts are the same as full-spectrum, but with the THC removed.
  • Hemp Oil is NOT Hemp Seed Oil: Hemp seed oil contains 0% cannabinoids.

When searching for your perfect product, one thing you need to look for is up to date, third-party, lab-tested results for each product. These tests should be updated for every batch of products the company manufactures, not just the first time. Products advertised as having an amount of CBD and other cannabinoids should have corresponding potency test results. The levels of delta 9-THC need to remain below the legal limit of 0.3%, set by the Farm Bill (2018). If you ever have questions about the specifics on the types of CBD, a representative from the company may be able to provide you in-depth answers to your questions.

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