Hemp-derived products are becoming increasingly available – you’ve likely seen them advertised everyone from gas stations to specialty stores. You also likely know someone who uses CBD on a daily basis who advocates for it, and probably many more than use it that you aren’t even aware of. The health benefits of CBD oil are broadly discussed and with the increasingly positive information coming out, more scientific research is peeking into the potential for CBD compounds.

The most common uses for CBD are:

Novel research indicates it is effective in at least one form of epilepsy, and potentially has neuroprotective benefits associated with traumatic brain injury.

With all of this good research and the good things you’re hearing from your friends, you may be considering using CBD oil intervention for yourself. If that’s the case, you’re likely wondering where to start, as the market is vast with lots of somewhat confusing jargon. With this article we hope to dispel some of the confusion and make it easier to find the CBD oil products that will benefit you the most.

Cannabis and types of CBD

  • What are isolates?

  • What are distillates?

  • What is the difference between distillate and isolate?

  • Full and broad spectrum CBD

Most CBD is derived from hemp, primarily from the seeds, stems, and leaves. THC is the compound in cannabis that creates the psychoactive effects – the high, so to speak.

Cannabis plants have many compounds with purported health and recreational benefits like CBD and THC, respectively. They also contain terpenes, which are volatile compounds that come from plant matter, giving our foods and spices their unique tastes and aromas. Terpenes also provide a variety of beneficial health effects, and those found in cannabis are no different. The process used to extract and refine CBD from the plant itself is what makes a difference in the potency and applications of the resulting product.

What are isolates?

CBD isolate is the most pure CBD, free from THC, terpenes and other compounds that are typically found in other hemp oil products. Like refining oils, isolating the CBD compounds removes much of the flavors typically found in cannabis products, as well as the THC. The result is the most potent therapeutic CBD you can get. CBD isolate is also usually only sourced from hemp plants, which are lower in THC than other cannabis plants. (You can find demand data on cbd isolates here.)

What are distillates?

Cannabis distillation involves heating, evaporating and condensing of various compounds from a plant. This is done under high pressure, and the result is a highly concentrated, honey-like fluid that removes the impurities, leaving a highly potent mix of CBD, THC, and terpenes. This final result can vary on your goals – if you make distillate from hemp, you’ll end up with a more CBD-rich product.

The process of distillation is as follows:

  • Extraction of the primary compounds, typically with a solvent like food-grade ethanol
  • Any other extra plant matter or impurities are then removed.
  • The process of winterization – placing the ethanol and unrefined product in cold temperatures for a day or two – removes the final bits of impurities. The final part of this method extracts any remaining ethanol from the now-refined hemp material.
  • The refined material is now heated, as it’s heat that activates the therapeutic or psychoactive compounds in cannabis-derived materials.
  • Using what is known as short path distillation, the refined material is subjected to high pressure via a vacuum. High temperatures are applied to hit boiling points that are lowered due to the vacuum. The result prevents oxidation of the material which can change the efficacy and flavor.
  • After distillation, the final product is as mentioned above, thick like honey but without the natural flavors or aromas found in crude or raw cannabis, ready to be used in a variety of applications.

You can further refine the distillation process through a method known as “fractional distillation”. This is a matter of creating a longer route from applying heat to the oil and where the final product condenses. This allows for further refining of the various potential end products of the distillation process used to produce CBD.

Distillates can contain some traces of THC, even when they are CBD focused. This is because, even though they are highly refined, they still include various other cannibinoid compounds, as these have therapeutic benefits as well. THC distillation is similar, but of course the end result there is a product high in psychoactive THC rather than CBD.

What is the difference between distillate and isolate?

Isolate is the purest form of CBD you can get, and this is desirable because some people are intolerant of THC in even small amounts. In addition, though unlikely, it is possible that even small amounts of THC in a CBD product – though not concentrated enough to get you high – can show up on a drug test. Isolate is perfect for these scenarios.

Distillate is still very pure, but the idea is that all the various compounds of cannabis work together for therapeutic benefits. It’s worth noting though that this means distillate may contain THC, and some contain somewhat high amounts of THC. Make sure if you want to avoid THC to get distillates that are refined to remove the THC.

Full and broad spectrum CBD

Full spectrum is like distillate in that it keeps all the various compounds that make cannabis beneficial, including other cannibinoids, terpenes, and other volatile compounds. The main difference between full and distillate is that distillates can be refined to keep or remove THC, whereas FS is designed to include everything to maximize the entourage benefits.

Broad spectrum CBD is like full, just a bit more refined. It does this by taking the totality of what a the plant has to offer and simply removing the THC. BS cbd offers the benefits of the combined effects of the various parts of the plant without any concerns about THC in your system.

The main reason you would want distillate, full or broad CBD is because of something called the entourage effect. Though CBD itself – in isolate form or otherwise – has some very real beneficial effects, it’s thought that that consuming the over 500 compounds in cannabis together is more beneficial than taking them in isolation.

An example of this effect in other places is supplementing vitamins – vitamin C helps the absorption of iron, and fat soluble vitamins like D should be taken with, well, fat. The idea is based on the idea that compounds like CBD and the other phytocannibinoids need to be taken together as they would be in the whole plant to get their full benefits.

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Regarding terpenes

Terpenes are the compounds in cannabis – and all plants – that give them the different aromas and tastes that vary so greatly. For instance, terpenes are what give pine needles their incredibly distinct smell. Additionally, there is verifiable scientific evidence that these compounds have therapeutic benefits, not just in cannabis but again, in many different plants.

The interplay between the phytocannibinoids, terpenes, CBD, THC, and lipids within the cannabis plant is called the entourage effect. Working together, these compounds provide beneficial effects in concert with each other that are different from simply taking CBD by itself. There is also research that suggests that cannabis terpenes are good for a variety of things, including the reduction in acute inflammation, similar to the way that ibuprofen works by reducing inflammation.

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So what is CBD distillate and what are its uses?

Simply put, CBD is cannabis put through the refinement process until you get one of the most high-strength cannabis products you can get. Imagine extracting all the healthy compounds from 10 heads of broccoli and putting them into a small container of extremely nutritional liquid, and you have the basic idea.

If you’re wondering how to use CBD distillate, the great news is that it’s one of the most broadly applicable CBD products available.

  • Edibles are a popular, common way to take distillate. From gummies to cookies, CBD edibles are a delicious, definitive answer to the questions, “can you eat CBD distillate?” Because the distillation process applies the necessary heat to activate the compounds in the extract, eating distillate will still provide the benefits.

  • Vaping or dabbing uses heat to convert the concentrate into a vapor or smoke you can inhale for the beneficial effects. This is probably the oldest, most popular form of taking CBD.

  • Mixing distillate with ointments is a potent way to deliver the pain-relieving compounds directly to the site of sore muscles, joint pain, or irritating skin. There are also some people that use distillates and CBD oils in beauty products, like face or hand lotion, though there is not yet research to suggest this has any additional benefits.

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How to choose what CBD product is right for you?

So we have learned about distillate, isolate, full and broad CBD products. All have their merits, so how do you determine which is right for you?

Since all of these products will provide the beneficial effects of CBD compounds, that’s a good place to start. If you’re using CBD to help with any of the ailments mentioned in the first part of this article, then all of these products will provide some manner of relief.

Isolate is the purest form of strictly CBD available. Though there is no research to date that suggests that isolate provides an improved benefit over distillate or broad/full spectrum products, it does have the benefit of purity. If you want to avoid any of the other phytocannibinoids, terpenes and most commonly, the THC that is present in other cannabis products, isolate is the product you want to use.

Distillate is very pure and concentrated, including everything the cannabis plant has to offer, but with far less terpenes or other volatile compounds that provide the flavors and aromas associated with the plant itself. If you want a product that provides the benefits of nearly all the aspects of cannabis in a potent, concentrated form, then distillate is more likely what you’d want to use. With that said, THC is often present in distillate. Does CBD distillate get you high, though? Probably not – even though distillate concentrations of THC can be higher than other CBD products, it’s likely not enough to create a psychoactive effect.

Broad CBD provides the benefits of entourage, giving you the benefits of the natural state of the plant. This means that all the lipids, terpenes, CBD and other cannibinoids are present, with the exception of THC. Consider broad spectrum to be almost like isolate that still allows for the potential benefits of the entourage in its entirety. If you want the interplay of almost all the aspects of the cannabis plant but without worrying about THC, then broad spec is right for you.

Finally, full spec CBD offers the full package and the entourage effect, but with very small amounts of THC. Because it’s more refined, you don’t need to worry about psychoactive effects, but it does still contain THC. If you don’t have concerns about ingesting THC, then full spectrum might be perfect for your needs.

Understanding distillates

Distillates undergo quite a transformation from raw plant matter to crudely refined material, and finally to exceptionally potent, beautiful honey-like sap. Through short path and fractional distillation, you can create increasingly specific and refined products that take out as many compounds as you feel are extraneous to what you want in the end.

Distillates contain the beneficial phytocannibinoids and other compounds that work together to create the therapeutic effects of CBD. Many distillates are refined in a way that the terpenes and other volatile compounds that provide the earthy aroma and flavors of cannabis products are removed, leaving an odorless, tasteless result that has a tremendous amount of applications.

Through vaping/dabbing, mixing with edibles, or topical creams, CBD distillate can be enjoyed and applied in a broad range of applications for all walks of life.

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