While the CBD craze has not yet hit Canada quite the way it has in the legal U.S., most Canadian Licenced Producers are developing CBD products specifically for a new, emerging market centered around wellness while the demand is skyrocketing. The new cannabis consumer is interested in CBD therapies and wants to know more about their options when making a purchase. With all the lingo floating around out there around CBD, we wanted to break down the different terms and highlight what they mean.

In a recent article, we broke down the term the entourage effect, which is founded on the idea that keeping plants whole may help you experience the full range of their benefits. It’s the principle that the entourage effect is founded on that positions many in the cannabis industry “against” cannabis isolates and concentrates.

Made up of hundreds of cannabinoids, cannabis is like the character tree in Game of Thrones: extremely complicated with impossible-to-remember names, and each name, no matter how seemingly random, is essential to the plotline. That cast of hundreds becomes far more significant when you take into account the entourage effect because it implies that cannabinoids have their greatest therapeutic benefits when they’re taken together, along with terpenes, the fragrant oils found in cannabis.

In Western medicine, researchers tend to study single compounds to find the “active” ingredient in botanicals. That ingredient is then isolated to be formulated into a drug. But the entourage effect argues that keeping all ingredients together is better for holistic healing.

When we see so many products toted as “full spectrum,” what they are implying is that the entire flower was used in the making of the medicine, offering the full range of benefits from the cannabinoids working in concert. Full spectrum is sometimes also called “whole plant.” As we’ve explained through the entourage effect, full spectrum provides more of the plant’s molecules in ratios and amounts that nature intended. While there is still more research to be done, there are indications that show cannabinoids and terpenes work together to influence each other.

So, what does CBD Isolate mean? Cannabidiol alone has been the subject of a lot of research as it stands out from the rest with what seems to be the widest therapeutic value, leaving patients and consumers to assume it would be best to take potently on its own. As the name suggests, these products have been isolated down to just the CBD molecule. They have no other active ingredient and just aim to deliver therapeutic doses of CBD, isolated from the other cannabinoids and terpenes.

CBD isolate products often come as a white powder or a mix with a carrier oil such as MCT oil for improved absorption. CBD isolates do allow users to easily get large amounts of CBD and know how much they’re getting. Isolates can sometimes be more expensive than full spectrum CBD. Isolates undergo more extensive refinement and require more plant matter in order to get high levels of isolated cannabidiol. CBD isolate products are generally labeled as being 99 percent or more pure CBD depending on the form they come in.

Broad spectrum CBD oils are oils that contain pretty much everything that full spectrum oils do, minus the THC. THC extraction can be achieved through special filtration techniques that remove that particular compound while leaving others intact. Alternatively, broad-spectrum oils can be created by starting with CBD isolate and then adding various cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

Although studies have confirmed that full spectrum CBD is more beneficial, isolate has its uses as well, especially if you get it in its powdered form to use in various edibles. That said, full spectrum CBD is recommended in most cases, especially if it’s for use by a patient experiencing severe symptoms. If drug testing is a concern, you’re encouraged to seek out CBD isolate products or broad-spectrum products instead of full spectrum.

While there is much debate on which form is better, many experts believe that other cannabinoids, THC especially, are necessary to take full advantage of what cannabis has to offer. Ultimately, however, we are all different and it comes down to the individual user and their needs.