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CBD’s Different Forms

Understanding the Extracts

When you’re looking for a new CBD product, it’s always smart to check the label. If you’re looking to use CBD, there’s a good chance you’re the kind of person that’s interested in the knowledge that can be ascertained from the fine print anyways. The problem is, CBD contents are described in a slew of terms- and some of them are synonymous with others. Worse yet, this broad range of terminology can be- and has been- used by those who would deceive the public on the nature of their product’s CBD contents to make a buck.

So how can you tell what kinds of CBD extract you’d like to see in the products you’ll be using? And how can you trust that what you see is what you’ll get? In order to compare and contrast legitimate CBD extracts, we first need to understand what those legitimate extracts are- and how to dodge the bullets of brands with misleading CBD contents.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the terms you’ll read the most frequently, starting with their trustworthiness before examining their definitions!

The Terms Most  Commonly Used to Describe CBD Extracts

The Good

Full Spectrum: as the name implies, full spectrum extracts contain the complete range of CBD, terpenes, phytocannabinoids and other cannabinoids from the hemp plant- including the trace amounts of THC present in the plant matter used. While the plant matter used may only contain a THC content of 0.3% to legally meet federal requirements, the use of higher concentrations of full spectrum extract may still trigger a positive result on a drug screening.

Sometimes known as: full plant extract, CBD distillate, CBD oil (this term is commonly used for many types of extract, so do your research before buying)

Broad Spectrum: through refinement processes, many broad spectrum extracts have their THC contents removed, leaving CBD, terpenes and phytocannabinoids present while maintaining the hemp’s flavors and smell. Alternatively, a broad spectrum extract could rely on an isolate for its CBD contents, having terpenes and other phytocannabinoids infused into the extract for the broad spectrum status.

Sometimes known as: hemp extract, full spectrum (when quantified with a 0.0% THC label)

CBD Isolate: after hemp’s oils have been extracted and refined they can undergo further processing to remove everything but the CBD, resulting in the purest concentration of the molecule itself in crystalized form. Unlike the other two extracts, CBD isolate is odorless and flavorless.

Sometimes known as: CBD concentrate, pure CBD, CBD

The Bad

Hemp Oil: though the term hemp oil has been used to describe full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolated CBD, it is most commonly used to describe an oil cold pressed from hemp seeds. This oil is most commonly used in cooking, though has also been used in other at-home remedies and has been said to have its own therapeutic effects. Only trace amounts of CBD, if any, are found in the seeds. While hemp oil might have its own sets of benefits and work well as a carrier agent for CBD extracts, it’s not a good source for CBD.

When quantified, measurements in milligrams almost always refer to the total volume of hemp oil contained in a product and this tends to be easily confused with CBD contents- and this has been used as a deceptive sales ploy before.

Sometimes known as: hemp seed oil, hempseed oil, hemp seed extract

The Questionable

Hemp Extract: This term is not inherently deceptive, as it can be and has been used to describe all three forms of CBD extract. However, it’s a term that should always invite further personal research from the end user before a purchasing decision is made, as it has also been commonly used to describe hemp oil- and as we’ve established, hemp oil may only contain trace amounts of CBD or none whatsoever.

Sometimes known as: CBD extract, hemp solution

Overlap in Terminology

As you can tell, the CBD industry often uses the same term to describe multiple types of extracts from the hemp plant. Generally speaking, it is always wise to question any CBD ingredient listed with a term that is not specifically full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD or CBD isolate. If the term you’re reading doesn’t describe the form of extract, you could be looking at a synonym used interchangeably- or you could be looking at a trick designed to get you to spend exorbitant amounts of your hard-earned money on a tiny bottle of cooking oil.

Use of CBD Extracts and Their Benefits

All three legitimate types of CBD extract- isolate, broad spectrum and full spectrum- will produce similar results from the CBD when good products are used correctly. Most newcomers expect CBD to work like THC, or at least the way they think THC works: you take a small dose, start feeling it right away and go on about your day in a better mood. For many of the things CBD is used for, this is not the case for a few reasons: the best results come through regular, consistent use- meaning 1-3 doses a day on a daily basis; and with no psychoactive properties, CBD isn’t really about what you feel- it’s about what you don’t feel.

Allow me to elaborate. After a few days of regularly using a proper dosage- and this will vary by numerous factors such as age, weight, height/body type, and the body’s familiarity with cannabinoids from previous use (regardless of whether that dose is being administered orally, topically or as a vapor/smoke), those more noticeable symptoms being targeted by the CBD start to become increasingly easier to manage.

In the case of physical pain, this isn’t a numbing effect like that of an opiate- with my family’s genetically-poor knees, I can sometimes feel a pressure of where my pain was (if that makes sense), but it’s closer akin to a growing absence of something there before. I can still feel my knees; just not their pain. For mental and emotional uses, the most commonly reported signs the CBD’s working are an increase in mental clarity, attentiveness, positive thoughts/feelings and healthier responses to drama or trauma.

These dwindling feelings can sometimes go unnoticed at first- there have been many users who have reported waking up one day and realizing they could climb stairs much easier or were having a calmer mind throughout the day. When people first start a consistent CBD regimen, it will likely take a few days to start stacking its benefits. This period can vary in length by all the factors listed above, but cannabis users and those who have used THC or CBD before can expect this to be expedited a bit. This is due to the fact that our endocannabinoid systems were evolved to process cannabinoids, but haven’t been stimulated by external sources as often in humanity’s recent history of prohibition and persecution.

During your period of personal experimentation with CBD, we highly recommend dosing heavier than you might otherwise. This is to help the body “wake up” to its use of cannabinoids- and there’s no worries of overdosing or getting high. Generally speaking, as long as a good product from a trustworthy provider is being used, it should take most people 4-10 days to start really noticing the effects of their CBD regimen, regardless of the type of extract in their products.

Rather than having a tolerance factor, CBD’s effects stack similarly to some antipsychotics and antidepressants. After taking it for a while, a lower, maintaining dose of CBD can be taken while granting the same benefits. This is almost like a reverse tolerance effect- once the body has been processing CBD consistently for a while, the endocannabinoid system just needs to be maintained. While maintaining the regularity of dosage, a smaller amount of cannabinoids should work as desired. A lot of people I’ve heard describe this effect relate it to oiling a joint or a hinge.

Now, one can most certainly take a very high dose of any kind of CBD extract and get more noticeable results with a much shorter onset- and plenty of users do- but those effects will last much longer on the wallet than they would in the body. It’s always better to get healthier without growing broke!

Comparing Isolate to Broad Spectrum and Full Spectrum

Now that we’ve broken down the different forms of CBD extract and explained the best ways to benefit from their uses, let’s compare them a little closer. It’s worth noting that all of our products, even our broad spectrum options, get their CBD contents from CBD isolate- and all of our contents are measured in milligrams of CBD present, not in the total volume of extract used.

While full spectrum and broad spectrum extracts include terpenes and even other cannabinoids with the CBD, isolate is pure CBD. There are some things worth knowing about using isolate over broad spectrum or full spectrum options.


When dealing with CBD isolate, the contents of the molecule itself will be much higher than in its other extracts. This is simply due to the contents being listed by the weight of the extract contained. With broad and full spectrum, that’s the weight of every milligram of CBD, other cannabinoids (like THC, in the case of full spectrum) and terpenes; with CBD isolate, that’s the weight of the CBD in milligrams. This, of course, is not the only measurement of how well a product will work- more on that later.


Because of this system of measurement, it is also much easier to get a specific dosage of CBD into the body with CBD isolate than it is with a broad spectrum or full spectrum extract. This is helpful for folks who would like to try the specific recommendations for dosages made by medical professionals, family members or friends, as well as for the purists exclusively seeking CBD.

Price Per Milligram

One of the reasons people routinely cite in their decisions to switch to CBD is the price they have to pay to take care of themselves. Many of their pharmaceuticals are getting too expensive; to these people, switching to an expensive natural alternative doesn’t make sense either. With broad spectrum and full spectrum extracts containing a broader mix of compounds requiring more oversight and processing, products featuring these forms of CBD extract are generally more expensive per milligram.

Isolate-based products are generally much more affordable for the end user than their counterparts. This allows most people the ability to afford much more CBD than they would be able to otherwise- which is particularly useful for folks whose treatment plans call for higher doses of CBD and those who prefer to “stock up” with bulk purchases. Though there aren’t any officially recommended doses for the plethora of conditions people have been using CBD to manage quite yet, the general consensus is that some of these conditions will likely require higher doses of CBD to help manage. For instance, it has been speculated that the management of many conditions on the schizophrenia and autism spectrums might require a daily dose starting in the few hundred milligrams range.

What’s Missing

Broad and full spectrum options do have a unique perk that isolate doesn’t and it’s absolutely worth noting: the “Entourage Effect”. This is a term used to describe the positive interactions between CBD, terpenes and other cannabinoids. Broad spectrum extracts will produce this effect to a degree, while full spectrum extracts will produce it to a greater degree. When these molecules of the hemp plant work together, the synergy with the CBD can yield great results and allow smaller doses of CBD to work better than they would without this synergy.

Does this lack of the Entourage Effect mean CBD isolate is inferior to broad spectrum and full spectrum extract? No- it’s just different. Isolate users will still receive the same benefits from their CBD that are received by the users of other forms of extract- and with the higher contents of the CBD molecule in an isolate, the effects of the three extracts are comparable listed milligram to listed milligram.

With isolate, the complete absence of THC means there’s not even an irrational fear of psychoactivity to be had. This means there is no risk of a false positive on a drug screening too, which is a growing concern the higher you go in potency with any product containing THC. Isolate also lacks the hemp flavors and odors of the other two extracts.  This makes CBD isolate a great choice for first-time users, especially those who are put off by the idea of “using pot.”

It should be noted that using THC in conjunction with our CBD isolate will certainly produce the Entourage Effect- as will using our CBD Crystals, which are CBD isolate infused with terpenes, and our newly revamped CBD Gummies, which are infused with our isolate-based broad spectrum extract, on their own.

For the cannabis users out there, CBD can enrich a high and help alleviate the negative side effects sometimes associated with THC, like increased anxiety and paranoia. For people that already use cannabis, isolate’s higher concentration of the CBD molecule will produce greater results. Paired with a lower price per milligram on average, this makes CBD isolate as much a perfect fit for those who use THC as it is for folks who want nothing to do with the psychoactive compound. 

“So which extract is right for me?”

While I’d love to sit here and recommend that you ONLY buy Silver Owl CBD, I was a CBD user long before this company was founded. If the company disappeared into the aether tomorrow, I’d still be using CBD- and I’d sleep a lot better knowing I didn’t profit from misguiding people that were genuinely looking for aid. I know how important it is for everyone to pick the right form of CBD extract for their needs; however, at the end of the day, that’s simply a matter of personal preference.

Is the presence of trace amounts of THC a dealbreaker, or is that something you’d prefer? Do you like the taste and scent of hemp (untold millions of us do), or do you find them repulsive? Are you a purist specifically looking for CBD exclusively, or are you hoping to experiment with everything the hemp plant potentially has to offer you? These are questions worth asking yourself before you go shopping, as these factors should play the biggest roles in finding a perfect match with your next CBD purchase.

Just please, do yourselves a favor- question everything you’re reading during your consideration process. Ask the right questions of the right sources that would have the answers you’re seeking. Do your research and be informed… and no matter what, always watch out for the term “hemp oil” when you’re reading those labels!


*These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA. Our products are not intended, nor are to be used, to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you or your loved ones have serious health concerns, please consult a physician,a trained medical or veterinary professional, or emergency medical services.

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