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There are tons of CBD options out there, and you may be choosing between two common types: CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD. If you’re feeling like Bridget Jones and find yourself in a CBD love triangle, unsure who to choose, we’re here to help.
CBD stands for cannabidiol (say that five times fast), one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis. CBD can be useful to help you relax (at least according to some research on animals), but it won’t give you any intoxicating effects like THC, the cannabinoid that makes you feel high.
Human bodies have cannabinoid receptors that THC directly plugs into, but CBD works differently. When you take CBD, it works indirectly, interacting with serotonin and pain receptors. That’s why it might be a great fit if you’re looking to treat anxiety, pain, and inflammation but aren’t looking to get dazed and confused.
Just be aware that although plant-based remedies are becoming more common and accessible, the FDA still hasn’t approved any CBD products that are on the market.
While all CBD products contain cannabidiol, the products are categorized based on which other cannabis compounds they include. Two of the main types are CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD.
CBD isolate is for the purists — it’s been isolated from other compounds and contains no THC at all.
Full-spectrum CBD contains all the naturally occurring cannabis compounds, including THC.
FYI: Just because full-spectrum CBD has THC, that doesn’t mean it’ll have intoxicating effects. According to federal law, hemp-derived CBD must contain 0.3 percent or less THC, and that typically isn’t enough to affect you, but it could.
Because full-spectrum CBD contains THC, you could get a positive result on a drug test if you’ve been taking it. If you want to play it safe, or if you live in a state where full-spectrum CBD is harder to come by, CBD isolate would be a better option.
$ = under $50
$$ = $50–75
$$$ = over $75
The best CBD isolate products
If you’ve isolated CBD isolate as the best fit for you, we’ve got you covered.
1. Organic CBD Isolate Gorilla Gummies
- Price: $$
- CBD per serving: 5 milligrams per gummy
- Total CBD: 300 milligrams
The Organic CBD Gorilla Gummies are — you guessed it — certified organic! They’re also kosher, plant-based, and soy- and nut-free.
As CBD isolate gummies, they contain 0 percent THC, so you can be sure you’re not consuming any THC when you take these. Plus, they’re tested by a third-party lab, so you can be confident about their contents. Chew away!
Order Organic CBD Gorilla Gummies.
2. CBDistillery CBD Isolate Oil
- Price: $
- CBD per serving: 17 milligrams
- Total CBD: 500 milligrams
This tincture is made from non-GMO hemp grown in the United States and contains 0 percent THC. CBDistillery also tests with a third-party lab to ensure the purity of its CBD products.
To use a tincture, put the liquid under your tongue for 20 seconds and then swallow.
Order CBDistillery CBD Isolate Oil.
3. cbdMD Premium CBD Isolate Gummies
- Price: $$
- CBD per serving: 25 milligrams
- Total CBD: 750 milligrams
These gummies are a two-for-one because they include CBD isolate plus some vitamin C! They contain 0 percent THC and use CBD derived from U.S.-grown hemp.
cbdMD has its products tested by a third party for substances like heavy metals and pesticides but doesn’t test for fungus, so this wouldn’t be the safest choice if you have a compromised immune system.
Order cbdMD Premium Gummies.
Full-spectrum CBD contains all naturally occurring compounds of the hemp plant, including THC.
Because of laws in the United States, even full-spectrum CBD products can’t legally contain more than 0.3 percent THC, so they shouldn’t have intoxicating effects. Some scientists believe there’s an “entourage effect” that makes CBD work better when it’s combined with some THC.
$ = under $50
$$ = $50–75
$$$ = over $75
The best full-spectrum CBD products
Looking for the full spectrum of the top full-spectrum CBD products? You’ve come to the right place.
1. Ojai Energetics Full-Spectrum CBD Hemp Elixir
- Price: $$
- CBD per serving: 9 milligrams
- Total CBD: 250 milligrams
This full-spectrum CBD oil is water-soluble and made with no synthetic compounds. It also contains hempseed oil, moringa, and acerola cherry, all of which are considered “superfoods,” packed with vitamins and minerals.
Plus, Ojai Energetics is determined to make CBD accessible and has a financial assistance program.
2. Absolute Nature CBD Full-Spectrum CBD Oil Drops/Tincture
- Price: $$$
- CBD per serving: 33 milligrams
- Total CBD: 1,000 milligrams
This CBD oil packs a punch, delivering a whopping 33 milligrams of CBD in every serving. It’s derived from Colorado-grown non-GMO hemp, and the manufacturer uses third-party testing to ensure high quality and give you peace of mind.
3. Sunday Scaries Full-Spectrum CBD Gummies with Vitamins
- Price: $
- CBD per serving: 10 milligrams
- Total CBD: 200 milligrams
2020 has felt like one long Sunday scary, and these CBD gummies might help you deal with it all.
We know CBD products can be confusing AF, so we’re here to help. We vetted each product according to factors we believe indicate safety, quality, and transparency.
Every product in this article is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab; is made with U.S.-grown hemp; and contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA).
We also considered indicators of user trust and brand reputation like customer reviews, whether the company has been subject to an FDA warning letter, and whether the company makes any unsupported health claims.
CBD can be a great help for pain and anxiety symptoms, but we don’t want to recommend any companies that tout it as a cure-all. (That’s not just untrue — it’s illegal!)
We also looked at company certifications and manufacturing processes, product potency, and overall ingredients. Though we put in the work to make shopping easier on you, make sure to check in with a doctor about any concerns you might have.
If you’re looking to expand your search to products beyond this list, there are a few things you can look for to make sure you’re buying the right CBD for you:
- Type: Decide whether you’re interested in pure CBD isolate, broad-spectrum CBD, or full-spectrum CBD.
- Value: Consider the price in relation to the total amount of CBD and the concentration you’ll get.
- Third-party testing: Look for companies that test their products with a reputable lab. They should make a certificate of analysis (COA) easy to find on their website — if not, be suspicious.
- Ingredients: If you’re putting CBD into your body, you should know (and like) what comes along with it. Check for safe carrier oils like hempseed oil and coconut oil and look out for any nasty additives.
Once you’ve bought your CBD of choice, follow the labels and advice from your doctor about how to take it.
CBD gummies are similar to the vitamin gummies you took as a kid — just chew and enjoy! With tinctures and oils, you’ll drop them under your tongue and hold them there for about 20 seconds before swallowing.
Since CBD isn’t an FDA-approved substance, there’s a lot of different guidance about proper dosing. As always, it’s best to talk to a doctor before taking any new substances or medications. Remember to start low and go slow.
If you’re trying CBD isolate, 25 milligrams is a good starter dose. From there, you can see how you feel and increase your dose over the next few days. With full-spectrum CBD, you can start at 5 milligrams and increase over the next few days. If you feel any side effects, stop taking it or reduce your intake.
If you’re not feeling the therapeutic benefits yet but you’re also not having side effects, you can try increasing your intake. For CBD isolate, many people report the sweet spot is between 25 and 75 milligrams. For full-spectrum, it’s somewhere between 5 and 25 milligrams.
In general, CBD is safe for most people. But it’s possible to experience some side effects, including dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. CBD can also interact with other medications, such as blood thinners.
It’s also important to check any drug interactions that you might have if you take CBD in conjunction with medications.
The FDA also mentions that in studies using laboratory animals, CBD affected male fertility — but it acknowledges that more testing is needed to determine whether this risk applies to humans.
CBD products come in many shapes and sizes, and it can be hard to figure out what’s best for you. When you’re choosing between CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD, factors like drug testing for your job and the potential “entourage effect” can help you narrow it down.
If you want to test out some products, just remember: It’s important to start with a low dose and consult a doctor with any questions.
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 percent THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3 percent THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. 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.