There are three main types of hemp products: full-spectrum, isolate, or broad-spectrum. Let's take a quick, high level look at all three to gain a better understanding of hemp products on the market.
Full-spectrum extract is derived from the hemp plants with minimum separation of chemicals and, as a result, contains all of the characteristic phytochemical of the plant. These include CBD, trace cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils. These full-spectrum extracts do contain THC but the levels are so small that they are negligible and usually below 0.3%. This level will not be psychoactive, meaning it won't get you 'high'. Of course, if you are extra-sensitive or allergic to THC is any way, these are probably best to avoid.
CBD isolate is a pure, filtered form of naturally occurring CBD. Once separated from other chemicals, it crystallizes. Though it is meant to be pure CBD, there may be trace amounts of other molecules found in hemp.
Not to be confused with full-spectrum, broad-spectrum products do not contain any THC at all. These products are produced in two different ways. One method involves removing THC from the full-spectrum extract. Another method involves combining CBD isolate with other isolated cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in order to craft a product that mimics a full-spectrum extract that lacks THC.
These classes of hemp products have different uses, but there is an interesting phenomenon that points to full-spectrum products, or hemp in its full and natural state, being more effective medicinally than isolates. Called the “entourage effect,” (Russo 2011) this means that the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids presented within the plant show greater therapeutic potential when consumed together than in isolation.
So... Which CBD Product is Best?
A study from 2015 revealed that using full-spectrum hemp extracts, as opposed to using products with isolated CBD products like the crystallized CBD we discussed above, demonstrated a clear correlation between full-spectrum hemp product use and efficacy in inflammatory medical conditions (Gallily, Yekhtin, & Ha- nuš, 2015).
Full-spectrum products perhaps owe their efficacy to the holistic nature of their composition- it is the most natural, undisturbed form of CBD out of the three. Perhaps when combined as is commonplace in hemp's natural state, these chemicals balance and interect with eachother in complex ways that allow CBD to deliver maximum efficacy.
Russo, E.B. (2011) Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-Terpenoid Entourage Effects. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163, 1344-1364.
Gallily, R. , Yekhtin, Z. and Hanuš, L. (2015) Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol. Pharmacology & Pharmacy, 6, 75-85. doi: 10.4236/pp.2015.62010.