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Cannabidiol (CBD) isolate is popular with cannabis pros and newcomers alike because it doesn’t contain any THC. While the hype around CBD is still fairly new and research is still in the early stages, most signs, studies, and Magic 8 Balls are pointing to “outlook good.”
Don’t want to be iso-late to the CBD party? We’ve got the lowdown on CBD isolate, including our top product picks below!
So what’s the bottom line when it comes to CBD isolate? Here’s a snapshot of the pros and cons.
CBD isolate is made by extracting all the other compounds (aka cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids) from the cannabis plant, leaving behind nothing but pure CBD.
CBD isolate is one of three types of CBD products:
- Full-spectrum. This form of CBD contains all the cannabinoids (including THC), terpenes, and flavonoids found naturally in the cannabis plant. Flavonoids and terpenes are compounds that give cannabis products their distinct smell and flavor, and they’re also known for having therapeutic benefits of their own.
- Broad-spectrum. This type of CBD is basically the same as full-spectrum CBD but has zero THC.
- Isolate. CBD isolate is pure CBD that doesn’t contain other cannabinoids (including THC), terpenes, or flavonoids.
Why choose an isolate instead of a broad- or full-spectrum product? CBD isolate may be your jam if you:
- want to completely avoid THC
- want to take larger doses of CBD
- are looking for something flavorless and odorless (though some products do have added flavoring!)
- have to pass a THC drug test (FYI: Full-spectrum CBD contains some THC, so it’s more likely to show up on a drug test, but there’s a chance isolate may also show up.)
So, if you’re looking for CBD in its purest form with no other canna-bells or THC whistles, CBD isolate is the one for you.
But keep in mind that when CBD is solo, you won’t get the benefits of the entourage effect, which is a theory that says keeping all the compounds of the cannabis plant together boosts their therapeutic benefits — especially when it comes to anxiety.
While some research shows promise for CBD’s pain-fighting prowess, one 2015 study on mice suggests that although CBD isolate offers certain health benefits, it may be less effective than full-spectrum CBD.
These results indicate that CBD isolate may be effective only in specific doses, rather than increasingly effective with higher doses.
That said, CBD isolate may be a good choice if you want to totally avoid THC. Also, if you plan on taking large doses, an isolate may allow you to do so without worrying about an increased risk of side effects from THC.
With so many great CBD products out there, how did we narrow down our choices?
These selections were made based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency. That means each product we chose:
- 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
- contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
- gets passing results for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA
We also took a close look at other factors like:
- company certifications and manufacturing processes
- product potency
- overall ingredients
- indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:
- customer reviews
- whether the company has been subject to an FDA warning letter
- whether the company makes any unsupported health claims
Like the sound of CBD isolate? Here are our top picks for getting some of that goodness for yourself!
Best flavored CBD isolate
- Price: $$$
- CBD per serving: 25 milligrams (mg) or 50 mg
- Total CBD: 750 mg or 1,500 mg
- Flavors: Skittles, cinnamon, unflavored
- COA: available on product page
Kanibi CBD Pure Isolate may be pricey, but peeps find that it’s worth the hefty price tag. Not only does it taste like fruity Skittles candies (yum!), but Kanibi’s isolate products are double-tested for safety and potency. It’s also made with organic, U.S.-grown hemp, high quality MCT oil, and natural flavoring.
If you’re not looking to taste the rainbow with every drop, you’re still in luck! This tincture also comes in cinnamon and unflavored varieties.
A heads up: The COAs for both potencies of this product show minimal levels of THC (.12 percent — the legal limit is .3 percent). So if you’re *really* steering clear of THC, this prob isn’t the best choice. (This is why we check COAs, people!)
Best CBD isolate topical
- Price: $$
- CBD per serving: N/A
- Total CBD: 1,000 mg
- COA: available on product page
Medterra Pain Cream combines CBD with menthol, arnica, and a powerful blend of soothing peppermint oil, jojoba oil, and aloe to help ease sore backs, stiff necks, and joint pain. These ingredients are proven powerhouses for pain and skin soothing:
- Menthol: an icy ingredient that’s a proven pain reliever
- Peppermint oil: another icy ingredient that can soothe pain
- Arnica: reduces inflammation and pain and can also help with muscle soreness
- Jojoba oil: a popular moisturizing ingredient that can enhance absorption of other topical ingredients (like CBD!)
- Aloe: a major skin soother with anti-inflammatory properties
It’s free of artificial preservatives and synthetic ingredients. Reviewers rave about the cream’s scent and its quick results. Some even say they notice immediate relief, which is probably thanks to the added ingredients in the formula.
Best CBD isolate oil
- Price: $$–$$$
- CBD per serving: 17 mg, 33 mg, 83 mg
- Total CBD: 500 mg, 1,000 mg, or 2,500 mg
- Flavors: unflavored
- COA: available on product page
You won’t find a bunch of gimmicks or frills with this oil. It’s made with only coconut oil and CBD. And while CBDistillery’s oil isn’t organic, it does use U.S. Hemp Authority certified non-GMO industrial hemp.
You can get it in three potencies. If you’re new to CBD, it’s a good idea to try the lowest potency first and work your way up to see how you tolerate it.
Best CBD isolate gummy
- Price: $$
- CBD per serving: 25 mg
- Total CBD: 750 mg
- COA: available on lab reports page
The best part about gummies? You can throw them in your bag and take them at any time. They’re pre-dosed, don’t require a swig of H2O, and are easy to store.
Best CBD isolate capsule
- Price: $–$$$
- CBD per serving: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
- Total CBD: 750 mg, 1,500 mg, 3,000 mg
- COA: available on the product page
Medterra CBD Gel Capsules are great if you’re always on the move. These capsules are easy to take and available in three strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg.
These gels are made using U.S. Hemp Authority certified CBD that’s suspended in fractionated coconut oil and encapsulated for your convenience, and they’re backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Reviewers say these capsules really go to work on pain and anxiety without causing any grogginess. They’re also a fan of how high quality Medterra products are.
Finding the right CBD product can feel overwhelming. Here are some things to consider when shopping for the right one for you:
Type of product
Choosing the type of CBD product you’re gonna buy is the fun part! There’s a big wide world of CBD and plenty of options to choose from, including gummies, capsules, oils, creams, lotions, and more.
If you want full-body effects, an ingestible product like an oil, gummy, or capsule might be the way to go.
But if you’re looking to target a specific area (maybe your fingers are aching because of arthritis), a topical product like a salve or lotion might do the trick.
Here’s a quick lowdown on each type of product:
- Oils and tinctures. Oils and tinctures are multitaskers. Put a couple of drops in your mouth and swallow (or for tinctures, under your tongue), or add to your fave bevvy. You can also put a few drops in your fave lotion or moisturizer to apply topically. Dosage is flexible too, which can be a pro or a con depending on your preference.
- Gummies. These are sweet because they’re pre-dosed. They’re a good option if you don’t want to swallow a pill. All you need to do is eat it and you’re done. Just remember that it takes a little while for these to kick in since you need to digest the gummy.
- Capsules and pills. These are also pre-dosed and easy to take. Just take with water and boom — you’re good to go.
- Topicals. Creams, salves, lotions, and balms. Apply these to achy areas, dry skin, or (sometimes) to your face or hair to get the pain-relieving and skin- and hair-soothing benefits.
Choose reputable manufacturers that are transparent about their products and processes, and make sure they have an up-to-date certificate of analysis (COA) from a third-party lab.
And don’t forget to look at user reviews. If there are a lot of complaints, it’s best to steer clear!
Look into where the CBD is coming from. Opting for U.S.-grown hemp is a good idea, thanks to agricultural regulations in the United States.
Consider, too, the type of hemp used to make the product. Try to find products that are made using the flower, not the stalk or stem, of the hemp plant.
For CBD oil products, make sure the carrier oil is high quality. Why? Because carrier oils dilute CBD, which can make using and dosing easier but also diminish the quality of the CBD if it’s a low grade oil.
Commonly used carrier oils include MCT or coconut oil, hempseed, and olive oil. If possible, opt for products that contain organic carrier oils.
Product concentration is also important to consider. If you’re new to CBD, start with a low potency product before working your way up. But also make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
If you’re trying CBD for chronic pain, you may want to go with a higher potency than you would with a broad- or full-spectrum product.
Testing from a third-party lab is a MUST. No testing is a major dealbreaker. How do you know if a product’s been tested? Look for an up-to-date COA (it shouldn’t be more than a year old), and check that the product is tested for contaminants and contains what the company says it should. In the case of isolates, that means zero THC.
Also always double-check that the COA matches what the brand says about the product (within reason, of course). If the brand says there’s 500 mg of CBD in the product and the COA says there’s 250 mg, that’s NOT cool.
At this point, you may be wondering, “How do I even use these products?”
Generally speaking (but not always, so be sure to read the manufacturer’s directions before anything else!), the different types of products are easy to use:
- Oils: Place the manufacturer-recommended number of drops under your tongue, letting them sit for 10 to 20 seconds before swallowing.
- Gummies: Just pop them into your mouth, then chew and swallow. Yum!
- Topicals: Apply directly to the affected area. (PSA: Don’t ingest CBD lotions or creams!)
- Pills and capsules: Take with water as directed.
When it comes to using CBD, your best option is to start small.
Begin with a low dose and slowly work your way up to using more as needed. For isolate products specifically, try starting with 25 mg and gradually increasing from there.
As always, pay special attention to the manufacturer’s instructions and talk with a healthcare professional if you have any questions.
Yes, CBD is generally considered to be safe. Some studies have even found it to be beneficial in treating certain health conditions, like epilepsy. More research still needs to be done on CBD, its benefits, its safety, and any possible interactions with other drugs or medications.
It’s also important to keep in mind that CBD products aren’t FDA-approved, meaning their safety and effectiveness aren’t guaranteed. This also means they may not be labeled correctly or could contain THC (so they would likely show up on a drug test).
Talk with a healthcare professional if you have questions or aren’t sure if using CBD is right for you.
Potential side effects
While it’s generally safe to use, CBD does have some potential side effects. These can include:
- weight fluctuations
- changes in appetite
What can you do to avoid these side effects?
Start by talking with a healthcare professional before adding CBD to your routine. They can work with you to ensure that the CBD product you’re considering won’t mess with any other products or medications you’re using.
Also be sure to carefully read the manufacturer’s dosing instructions to make sure you’re not using more than the recommended amount.
How do brands make sure that all of the other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are removed from the CBD isolate product?
Companies use different kinds of extraction methods to make CBD isolate. The most common are carbon dioxide (CO2) and ethanol extraction. Both are complicated processes.
To double-check that what’s left is really and truly pure CBD, companies hire third-party testing facilities to test CBD products before bottling them up and shipping them off to you.
Where can I buy CBD isolate?
There are so many companies that sell quality CBD products, including some of our faves featured above. Take your pick!
But avoid Amazon. Amazon is not the place to buy CBD.
What’s the best CBD isolate dosage for anxiety?
A 2019 study showed a single dose of between 300 mg and 600 mg to be effective at reducing anxiety related to public speaking. But it’s important to point out that the study doesn’t specify whether the CBD was an isolate or not.
What’s better for anxiety: CBD isolate or full-spectrum CBD?
It’s hard to say for sure since more research is needed. But available research does suggest that full-spectrum products are better for pain relief than CBD isolate products. What that means for mental health conditions we’re not really sure, but this improved benefit might have something to do with the entourage effect.
Do CBD isolate products make you ‘high’?
Nope. There’s no THC in isolates, so you don’t have to worry about becoming impaired. And other CBD products contain so little THC that there’s virtually no risk of getting “high” unless you take them in high enough doses.
Will CBD Isolate make you test positive?
Nope. Again, there’s no THC in isolates, so you don’t have to worry about THC showing up on drug tests. Just make sure to check the COA to confirm that a company’s CBD isolate actually contains 0 THC.
CBD isolate is pure CBD that doesn’t contain other cannabinoids or THC. It’s a good option for those who are just starting to use cannabinoids or who want to add CBD to their lifestyle without dealing with the effects of THC.
While it’s generally considered safe to use, CBD is not currently FDA-approved, and more research is needed on its benefits and safety. Look for reputable manufacturers and products that use quality ingredients and have high customer satisfaction.
If you have questions or are taking any other medications, talk with a healthcare professional before using CBD.