Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum

There’s a lot of debate surrounding terminology in the CBD industry, one of the most complicated being the use of the terms full spectrum and broad spectrum. It’s important to note that there’s no official definition when it comes to broad and full spectrum, so how companies choose to define them can vary.

In this article, we’ll highlight how Mile High Labs defines full spectrum vs. broad spectrum and discuss the potential benefits of each for both manufacturers and consumers.

A Spectrum of Issues

Every cannabinoid behaves differently. For instance, cannabigerol (CBG) interacts with the endocannabinoid system in a different way than our beloved cannabidiol (CBD). This full range of 113+ cannabinoids is what we call the cannabinoid spectrum.

The distinction of full spectrum and broad spectrum is typically determined by the range of cannabinoids included in an extract or finished product. However, it’s challenging to detect the presence of all cannabinoids simply because the concentration of some of them is extremely low. This is where the legitimacy of the term “full spectrum” comes into question.

Pure Beginnings

When Mile High Labs started, we were primarily focused on the production of CBD isolate. Since then, we’ve branched off into the development of other products to meet our customers’ unique needs. We’ve already discussed the benefits of CBD isolate in previous blogs—the purity and versatility of isolate make it an excellent solution for manufacturers who are concerned about the presence of THC.

With the passing of 2018’s Farm Bill, the legal limit of THC in industrial hemp is 0.3%. This limit often comes into question when discussing the cannabinoid spectrum. But what about the other cannabinoids? What do “full” and “broad” really mean? What’s the difference and why does it matter?

The Case for the Whole Plant

Mile High Labs defines full spectrum as unrefined hemp extract or crude oil. This oil contains everything extracted from the plant, including many cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and fatty acids. It also contains THC. Many users believe that these compounds are more effective together than alone, a theory known as the “entourage effect.”

We respect THC and acknowledge it’s reported medical benefits. However, with today’s laws and regulations surrounding hemp and CBD products, the presence of certain cannabinoids can complicate things, primarily when supplying a global market.

Because there’s no standard definition, it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting when using a full spectrum product. It could be the unrefined hemp extract itself. It could be distillate with THC left in. It could be plenty of things, and there’s technically not a right or wrong answer.

Pros and Cons of Full Spectrum

Full spectrum delivers an extensive range of compounds from the cannabis plant. And because it’s a whole-plant extract, it doesn’t go through the stages of refinement that broad spectrum and isolate do.

However, consumers and manufacturers who are wary of THC should be cautious with full spectrum extracts. Due to the presence of THC, it may have psychoactive inducing properties. Users could also potentially test positive for THC consumption on drug tests.

For product manufacturers, the inclusion of THC introduces a whole slew of legal complications. Full spectrum products can often test above the federally legal limit of 0.3% THC, and global brands may run into issues when distributing their products in markets such as the UK, where the THC limit is 0.2%.

Removing the Risk

Broad spectrum sits at the midway point between full spectrum and isolate. Mile High Labs defines it as a cannabinoid rich distillate with THC removed. It’s extracted similarly to full spectrum, but it undergoes additional refinement to remove psychoactive compounds. This delivers a product with the beneficial compounds that users love about full spectrum products, but without significant amounts of THC.

Mile High Labs uses a proprietary process to remove THC from our THC-Free Distillate and Broad Spectrum Water Soluble products. We like to think of this as removing the potential risks and extra baggage that can come with THC in the current regulatory environment. Both consumers and manufacturers can depend on our broad spectrum products to stay in compliance while providing the potential benefits of a whole-plant extract.

Pros and Cons of Broad Spectrum

Broad spectrum extracts and products deliver on the broad range of compounds offered by the cannabis plant, including the potential of the entourage effect. Additionally, since THC is removed, there’s an unlikely chance of psychoactive effects.

Certain consumers might be turned off by the natural hempy flavor and odor found in broad spectrum products. The extract is also more challenging to make, so users and manufacturers will usually end up paying a premium for the more refined CBD distillate.

Mile High Labs Broad Spectrum

Since there’s no universally agreed upon definition for broad and full spectrum, it’s important to ask CBD manufacturers what exactly they mean when they use the terminology. One thing’s for sure, there’s no such thing as “0% THC Full Spectrum” CBD. Companies who make this claim are at best misinformed and at worst misleading.

Mile High Labs currently manufactures two broad spectrum ingredients. Our THC-Free Distillate is a broad spectrum distillate with the THC removed using a proprietary extraction process. The result is a product with 80-90% CBD potency, as well as additional desired compounds without psychoactive or controlled substances.

For manufacturers looking to create water-based CBD products such as beverages or liquid foods, our Broad Spectrum Water Soluble Liquid is the perfect solution. The product is nano-emulsified and formulated for ease of use and minimal impact on the finished product’s flavor, mouthfeel and appearance.

If you’re still having trouble deciding on the best CBD to use for your product, give our team a call at 833.CBD.1011 or email sales@milehighlabs.com.

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