CBD bud smell is largely derived from hemp, a type of cannabis sativa plant. CBD products can contain detectable amounts (no more than 0.3% by dry weight) of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in cannabis plants known for causing intoxicatingly psychoactive effects.
However, consuming CBD won’t get you “high.” Instead, CBD interacts with receptors in your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which includes the brain and spinal cord, potentially calming the central nervous system, alleviating anxiety, improving sleep quality and/or reducing inflammation and chronic pain symptoms.
Understanding the differences between the three types of CBD—full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate—can help you choose the best type for your specific needs and preferences.
- Full-Spectrum CBD
Full-spectrum CBD refers to a hemp extract that contains CBD and other compounds naturally present in the hemp plant, such as terpenes (compounds responsible for the way a plant smells) and minor amounts of THC, says Jeff Chen, M.D. co-founder and CEO of Radicle Science, a wellness clinical research organization in San Diego, and founder and former executive director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, one of the first multidisciplinary academic programs dedicated to the study of cannabis and cannabinoids.
- Broad-Spectrum CBD
Broad-spectrum CBD is a hemp extract similar to full-spectrum CBD, with the exception that it typically undergoes an additional extraction process to remove all THC while leaving the remaining compounds naturally present in the hemp plant intact. With that said, testing reveals that some broad-spectrum CBD products retain minimal traces of THC, so it’s safest to refer to them as “nearly THC-free.”
- CBD Isolate
As the name suggests, CBD isolate, or pure CBD, doesn’t contain any THC or other compounds from the hemp plant, says Dr. Chen. Unlike full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD, CBD isolate cannot create the entourage effect because the extraction method isolates CBD from all other terpenes, cannabinoids and plant compounds naturally occurring in hemp.
- Oils and Tinctures
CBD bud smell oils and tinctures typically come in bottle sizes ranging from 1 ounce to 4 ounces. The bottle may have a dropper labeled with dose amounts as well, typically at .25-milliliter intervals. When applying CBD oil drops under the tongue, a consumer may feel the effects more quickly than with other forms of CBD. Also, more CBD may be absorbed into the bloodstream via sublingual consumption than with other administration methods.
- Gummies and Other Edibles
CBD gummies and other edibles, such as candies, cookies, brownies and other foods or beverages, don’t typically kick in as quickly as oils and tinctures.
When you eat gummies and edibles, they must first be processed by the digestive system, which means there is a delay in the onset of effects—and less CBD ultimately enters your bloodstream— says Dr. Chen.
Capsules: CBD is also available in oral capsule form. As with gummies and other edibles, when you take CBD capsules, there is typically more of a delay in the onset of effects since they must be processed through the digestive system first, says Dr. Chen.
Lotions, Creams and Other Topicals: Many people seeking potential relief for chronic pain and various skin conditions apply lotions, salves, ointments and other CBD-infused topicals to the affected area.
“With topical forms of CBD, such as lotions or creams, only minimal amounts reach the bloodstream and thus may avoid some of the potential side effects of CBD that does reach the bloodstream, such as diarrhea and lethargy,” says Dr. Chen. However, consumers seeking relief for non-skin conditions like pain, insomnia or anxiety tend to benefit more from CBD when it reaches the bloodstream and should use a non-topical product instead, adds Dr.
- How to Use CBD Safely
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any over-the-counter (OTC) or consumer CBD products and has only approved one prescription drug called Epidiolex, which is used to treat seizures associated with certain forms of epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis complex, a rare genetic disease.
In fact, the FDA has issued warning letters to several CBD manufacturers, finding that many products don’t contain the levels of CBD listed on their labels. The letters also addressed companies’ illegal claims that their CBD products can prevent, diagnose, alleviate, treat or cure certain diseases, as well as their marketing of CBD products as dietary supplements.
With those FDA warnings in mind, consumers can take certain steps to ensure they’re using CBD as safely as possible. Most potential CBD benefits are based primarily on anecdotal reports because human clinical data is limited, says Dr. Chen, who stresses the importance of CBD dose.