Isolate vs Full-Spectrum CBD Oil Compared: Which Is Best?

CBD Isolate vs Full-Spectrum

Choosing the best CBD oil type for your needs isn’t easy. There are many products to choose from today in Australia, and navigating them can be confusing. In particular, you might have seen terminology such as ‘isolate’, ‘full-spectrum’, ‘broad-spectrum’ or ‘CB2’ used to describe different CBD oil products. Understanding these distinct types of CBD oil is essential as they each have distinctions, drawbacks, advantages and risks. Arming yourself with the proper knowledge to understand, distinguish between and assess each is important. Doing so will mean you’re equipped to buy the right product for your needs, maximise the health benefits you can obtain, plus steer clear of pitfalls. Let’s look at the different types of CBD oil, understand their characteristics and advantages, and explore which might be best for you based on your needs.

What is CBD Oil? 

What is CBD Oil?

Many plants produce natural chemicals that offer health benefits like reduced inflammation. Hemp is one such plant that is bountiful in nutrients and phytocompounds that help promote overall well-being. Of particular usefulness are cannabinoids. These bioactive chemicals naturally produced by hemp have unique effects and benefits due to their interaction with the human body. CBD is the most powerful and well-known of these therapeutic compounds. It can activate the body’s endocannabinoid system that helps regulate and balance bodily functions, including sleep, immunity, mood, appetite and pain. 

Extracts from hemp are typically infused into oils or tinctures to be easily consumed to benefit from their effects. In Australia today, CBD oils are commonplace and widely available. They can be purchased as low-dose products containing less than 150mg of CBD dose equivalent per day without a prescription. High-strength products above this range or those containing THC require a medical prescription to purchase. This is the other well-known cannabinoid from the hemp plant that is infamous for being intoxicating and causing euphoria in users. In contrast, CBD cannot alter consciousness and is milder in its mental effects. As such, it’s much safer for a wide variety of users, as it confers no risk of triggering mental disorders or psychosis due to psychoactivity.

Overview of CBD Oil Types

CBD Oil Types

CBD oil comes in several distinct types. In each case, they differ in their cannabinoid content, production method, nutrient profile and applications. Each has advantages and drawbacks, which make them more or less suitable in varying usage scenarios. Let’s examine their characteristics and differences.

Isolate CBD Oil

CBD oil derived as an isolate is the most pure and concentrated by undergoing extensive distillation and refinement. These additional refinement steps enable maximum filtration and purification of the cannabis extract, eliminating other phytocompounds while retaining CBD. This processing results in a CBD oil with extremely high purity and strength. Think of these products as being ‘isolated’ to CBD only. All other cannabinoids, including THC, are removed. The resulting extract is colourless and tasteless, making it much easier for many who don’t enjoy the flavour of full-spectrum CBD oil.


Because isolates are the most pure form of CBD available, they’re excellent for those who are seeking to avoid any risk of THC consumption. Trace levels of THC are often found in full and broad-spectrum CBD products as they’re less refined. By entirely filtering this out, isolate CBD oil helps users avoid any risk of intoxication, mental disorders or failed drug tests that can occur from THC. As such, it’s best suited for anyone considering CBD but working in a job that conducts drug testing. In addition, it can help eliminate any risk of roadside drug testing failures from THC that can occur in Australia. Isolate CBD also tends to have the highest potency of CBD oil, making it suitable for those looking to get the most CBD cost-efficiently.


Due to their refinement, isolate CBD oils lose out on many of the supplementary benefits that can be gained from the other natural phytocompounds contained in hemp. This includes potent antioxidants like flavonoids, cannaflavins and beta-carotene that help with metabolic health. It also means vitamins, minerals, fibre and healthy fats such as omega-3 are removed from the product. Each has valuable properties for nutrition, inflammation, recovery and cardiovascular support. But the most considerable downside of isolate CBD is that it contains no terpenes, the natural anti-inflammatory scent chemicals produced by cannabis. Terpenes are potent in themselves at assisting with lowering anxiety, combatting inflammation and aiding with sleep. But they also amplify and elevate the powers of cannabinoids like CBD. Specifically, terpenes help in cannabinoid absorption at receptor sites. Through this mechanism, the benefits of CBD, like pain mitigation and stress alleviation, are significantly enhanced, meaning less oil can be used for equivalent or higher strength of effect. You’ll generally get comparatively lower inflammatory, anxiety and pain-reducing effects from isolate CBD versus its broad or full-spectrum counterparts due to this.

Broad-Spectrum CBD oil

Broad-spectrum products are usually designed to increase the strength of a subset of cannabinoids alongside CBD. They undergo more refinement than full-spectrum oil types, however, to eliminate THC content. This type of extract sits between isolates and full-spectrum CBD oil regarding minor cannabinoid, nutrient and terpene content. It’s usually more pungent in taste and smell than isolate CBD as it’s less refined and may contain some plant matter.

Alongside CBD, it can include cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, CBC or MEB. Each cannabinoid has differing health benefits and may offer better relief for specific conditions. For example, CBG is known to have potent effects in protecting the immune system from microbes and viruses as it is antimicrobial. CBN is thought to activate the CB2 receptors, which can assist in mitigating inflammatory issues in the body, such as arthritis or colitis. For many, broad-spectrum products with a narrower ‘spectrum’ but higher potency of particular cannabinoids are the best option for many in managing specific conditions.


Like isolate oils, broad-spectrum CBD won’t contain THC, which is advantageous. But in contrast to isolates, they enable you to benefit from minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and specific other hemp phytonutrients that holistically help your well-being. Its strength and endocannabinoid activity are higher because of its terpene content. It is best suited for those who want to benefit from terpenes and minor cannabinoids while still minimising their risk of THC exposure.


The main drawback of broad-spectrum CBD is that it isn’t as pure as isolates and does not have the depth or variety of phytonutrients a full-spectrum product can offer. In addition, while THC content is generally nil or close to it, some broad-spectrum products may have minor trace amounts of THC that are still detectable in drug tests. The risk of this is low but worth mentioning. Additionally, due to its terpene and phytonutrient content, broad-spectrum CBD can have musk and taste, making it less compelling. 

Full-Spectrum CBD Oil

Full-spectrum CBD oil contains the full range of terpenes, minor cannabinoids, nutrients and phytocompounds from the entire hemp plant. It’s typically a ‘whole plant extract’ due to being extracted from all parts of the plant. As the least refined form of CBD, it maximises phytocompound content but often contains minor amounts of THC due to undergoing less distillation. The green colour of this product comes from it containing chlorophyll, cannaflavins, flavonoids and other antioxidant compounds that occur in hemp. Each boosts the antioxidative effects and metabolic benefits of this oil type.


For most, full-spectrum CBD oil has the most significant overall benefits to health, recovery and well-being simply due to its robust variety of cannabinoids plus phytocompounds. In combination, the terpenes, cannabinoids and supplementary plant nutrients like flavonoids offer a greater strength of effect for inflammation, anxiety, sleep and pain. In addition, the synergy between terpenes and CBD means that less dosage quantity can achieve the same results. You’ll be able to use less CBD and get more mileage out of each bottle. Nutritionally, this oil type is superior as it contains healthy fats like omega 3, vitamins, minerals and fibrous plant matter in the most considerable quantity.


The most considerable downside to full-spectrum CBD is its higher THC content. In Australia, it can contain up to 0.3% THC under regulation, which connotes the product was sourced from industrial hemp. These are hemp plants selectively bred to alter their cannabinoid concentrations and minimise THC content. But the risk of THC consumption isn’t eliminated. Those who are drug tested regularly for work or at risk of being drug tested while driving should generally avoid full-spectrum products due to this.

Another drawback of full-spectrum CBD lies in its intense flavour and scent. While rich in terpenes and nutrients like flavonoids, the natural aromas of these chemicals are often potent. Many users complain of the taste, which can be earthy or grassy. The health benefits are often not worth the issues of being entirely put off by the product’s flavour for many people.

CB2 Oil

In contrast to other CBD types, CB2 oil is designed to maximise activation of the CB2 receptors in the immune, peripheral nervous, and tissues. It’s mainly targeted towards bolstering immunity and aiding users with antiviral or antimicrobial defence. Most CB2 oils are broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD products marketed differently. They will usually claim to avoid targeting the brain’s CB1 receptors, so they are only applicable for recovery and bodily function, but this isn’t factual.

Which Type of CBD Oil is the Best?

Which CBD Oil is Best?

There’s no clear answer to the best CBD oil type for you. Each class has advantages and drawbacks, making them more suited to particular individuals. Choosing a specific type of oil will come down to your budget, preferences, health goals, plus flavour requirements. If you want the highest concentrations and strength of CBD while eliminating any THC content, look for an isolate CBD oil. This will offer you the most significant quantity of CBD for the lowest price without diluting it with other terpenes and nutrients.

On the other hand, broad-spectrum CBD oil is best suited to those looking for quantities of particular minor cannabinoids such as CBG or CBN to help with certain conditions like anxiety. For example, a broad-spectrum solution containing high levels of CBN is suitable for helping to improve sleep and circadian rhythm. These users are usually also looking for a product containing terpenes and no THC. CBN has particular properties and unique effects on the endocannabinoid system, making it ideal for improving sleep and reducing insomnia.

For beginners, full-spectrum CBD is the best starting option. It has all the nutrients, terpenes and minor cannabinoids that supplement the therapeutic powers of CBD. As such, it’s the best for overall well-being and aiding with general health, plus lowering inflammation. Its complement of antioxidants like cannaflavins and beta-caryophyllene aids it in supporting metabolic plus nutritional health as a side benefit.

CBD Oil vs. CBD Tinctures

A tincture is simply a CBD extract oil infused into a carrier oil to disperse it and improve the ability for the cannabinoids to be absorbed. Cannabinoids like CBD are fat soluble, meaning their absorption can be amplified when added to a carrier solution containing high lipid content like MCT or coconut oil. This can also aid with taste or texture for people who don’t find the nutty flavour of hemp appetising. 

A carrier helps carry the CBD and disperse cannabinoid molecules more evenly for accurate and efficacious dosing. CBD Oils, on the other hand, are pure cannabis extracts and don’t have carrier oils added. They tend to have higher strength due to this but lower shelf life. Additionally, their taste and absorption can be inferior, plus nutrient density, as they won’t offer the omegas and long-chain fatty acids that MCT or other carrier oils provide. We recommend choosing CBD tinctures for their health and absorption advantages unless you have a specific allergy or intolerance.

High vs. Low Strength CBD Oil

In Australia, CBD oils can be found in ‘low’ and ‘high’ strength formulations defined by their CBD concentration per mL of oil. Low-strength products must contain 150mg of CBD of dose equivalent per day, plus they can only contain up to 30 daily doses per bottle. These types of oil can be purchased in pharmacies over the counter, in addition to online stores and dispensaries.

In contrast, high-dose products can contain up to 600mg of CBD per day but need a prescription to buy. High- and low-strength CBD products are viable methods for improving your health and well-being. Most people only ever require low dosages to achieve strong outcomes for their anxiety or inflammation.

High-dose products are better viewed through a medical lens. They are much higher potency and designed to help in the treatment of particular conditions like arthritis, minor pain, depression or insomnia. Speak to your doctor if you’re considering either option so they can assess whether it’s the right choice, weigh the risks and advise you on the best approach to suit your health needs.

Which is better: CBD isolate or full spectrum?

Choosing between CBD isolate and full spectrum depends on your preferences and health needs. CBD isolate is purer, contains a higher strength of CBD, plus eliminates all THC content. In contrast, full-spectrum CBD offers a broader range of helpful nutrients from hemp, including vitamins, healthy fats and antioxidants. In addition, it benefits from containing terpene scent compounds from cannabis that are synergistic with cannabinoids like CBD and improve their potency. CBD isolates also have a more neutral taste and smell than the earthy flavour of full-spectrum products, which can be unappealing.

Is CBD isolate more potent?

While CBD isolates have the highest CBD concentration and purity strength, they lack terpene content, elevating its strength. Full-spectrum CBD products benefit from the entourage effect facilitated by terpenes that aid absorption and the effects of cannabinoids like CBD. As such, both CBD types are effective, but you will need to use more of an isolate product to achieve the same results due to less terpene and minor cannabinoid activity.

Is full-spectrum CBD more potent?

Full-spectrum CBD has lower potency for most people as it contains less CBD than isolates, but it will be stronger in effect from its terpene content. Terpenes such as linalool or myrcene help absorb cannabinoids and activate endocannabinoid production, stimulating elevated therapeutic responses from equivalent dosages. For most people, full-spectrum products are the superior choice for this reason and provide a better blend of nutrients, phytocompounds and antioxidants to supplement their therapeutic CBD content.

Why is CBD isolate better?

CBD isolate oil suits individuals who want pure CBD without any trace of THC or other cannabinoids. For example, if you are drug tested for work, it’s advisable to use isolates, which eliminate THC content via a higher degree of filtration. It’s also a preferred choice for those who may be sensitive to other compounds in hemp, don’t like the musky taste of full-spectrum CBD or want the most significant quantity of CBD possible per bottle.

Does CBD isolate make you feel anything?

When pure, CBD isolate does not produce the psychoactive effects associated with THC or noticeable changes in motor function. It stimulates feelings of calmness, elevated mood, enhanced focus and reduced stress in most users. For many, these subjective effects can be subtle or almost unnoticeable.

Is CBD isolate less effective?

CBD isolate is not inherently less effective. It can be highly effective for specific purposes, such as targeted relief from anxiety or muscle aches. However, the more comprehensive range and variety of nutrients, plus terpenes in full-spectrum CBD, offers enhanced health benefits through the entourage effect between terpenes and cannabinoids.


Choosing the right CBD oil for your needs requires careful consideration. Each type of CBD oil – isolate, broad-spectrum, full-spectrum, and CB2 – has unique characteristics that could be useful depending on your requirements. Isolates are ideal for those who want to maximise their CBD intake and avoid THC. Broad and full-spectrum oils offer a more comprehensive range of nutrients, terpenes, and cannabinoids, but they come with the risk of minor THC consumption. To determine the best match for you, you must assess your situation, the purpose of using CBD oil, and your personal preferences. Both low and high-strength products can be suitable, but it’s always best to consult your doctor to determine the optimal approach for your needs. Your doctor can help you choose the best CBD oil based on your medical history, health status, and potential drug interactions. They can also provide important information on safely using CBD oil and avoiding potential risks.