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CBD ABCs: Know the Differences Between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and Isolate

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CANNABIDIOL (CBD) PRODUCTS REPRESENT a rapidly growing category of pet products, and retailers are on the front lines when it comes to educating their customers on the benefits, usage and expected results. As the category matures, pet owners are becoming more sophisticated in their understanding of these products and the vast range of options. One area where many questions arise has to do with the difference between products labeled as “full spectrum” versus “broad spectrum” CBD, or “CBD isolate.”

To guide your choices and meet customer needs for education, here’s what you need to know when it comes to the different varieties available.

“Full” versus “Broad” Spectrum — What’s the Difference?

When it comes to the “full” versus “broad” spectrum labels, it’s all about what ends up in the final product.

The “spectrum” refers to a product’s range of included cannabinoids, which are compounds extracted from the cannabis plant. These include cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and more than 100 other naturally occurring compounds. In particular, THC is the compound known for its psychoactive high that many associate with recreational marijuana. CBD, on the other hand, does not produce a psychoactive effect.

To create a CBD product, cannabinoids are extracted from the cannabis plant, and the product is refined until it contains only the specific compounds desired. In full-spectrum products, this includes all compounds found naturally occurring in the plant, including CBD, terpenes, essential oils, and other cannabinoids — including, notably, THC. Broad-spectrum products contain a similarly wide range of cannabinoids, with one important exception: They contain no THC.

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What About Isolate?

Isolate takes the refinement process even further, distilling the product to the purest form of CBD. That means removing all non-CBD compounds found in the plant, including THC, terpenes, flavonoids, plant parts and other cannabinoids.

But Wait — Is the THC in Full-Spectrum Products Legal?

It is. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, which made CBD purchase legal at a federal level, full-spectrum products are legal if they contain less than 0.3 percent THC.

OK, So Which Product Is Better?

As you might imagine, there’s no simple answer to this question. It all depends on a given pet’s needs and the pet owner’s preferences. While it was once thought that isolate represented the most potent form of CBD treatment, a 2015 study debunked this perception when it found that full-spectrum CBD provided higher relief effects within the body. However, pet owners who are most interested in a concentrated dose of CBD, or who fear their pet might be intolerant of other cannabinoids, might still prefer the pure nature of a CBD isolate.

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However, there are reasons to direct pet owners to full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products over isolate. Certain studies show that the blend of multiple cannabinoids produce what is known as the “entourage effect,” which refers to the way in which cannabinoids magnify the effects of one another when combined. Both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products produce this beneficial effect, leaving the question of THC as the main discerning factor between the two.

Full-spectrum products that adhere to the legally required limit of less than 0.3 percent THC should not produce a psychoactive effect within pets. However, some owners are wary of administering any amount of THC to their pets — and there is some basis for this concern.

Simply put, the production process used by some CBD suppliers isn’t precise enough to ensure THC concentrations within full-spectrum products remain uniformly and consistently below through the 0.3 percent legal threshold. Until quality control in this realm improves, sticking with broad-spectrum products is the best way to alleviate concerns that a CBD product might inadvertently get a pet high.

Ultimately, as with so many categories of product, the best results will be seen when a retailer discusses the individual needs of a pet with its owner and recommends the appropriate product.

Jay You is CEO of Dr. You+ and a veterinarian who has witnessed the benefits of CBD in his patients firsthand. You can reach him at dryou@borncbd.com or learn more at borncbd.com/portfolio/dryouplus.

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