Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum

By Yes.Life | 24 April 2019 | 3 min read

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Not all CBD is the same. Various other articles have touched on this topic, but in this article, we’re interested in the specific chemical difference between two common types of Hemp CBD Oil products: The Broad-Spectrum products versus the Full Spectrum products.

Before digging into the differences between these two products, let’s touch on some similarities. Both products (should) come from the hemp plant. Neither product should lead to a psychoactive “high,” and both should be filled with plenty of cannabinoids, most prominently CBD. Both should taste the same and even be processed and manufactured in the same basic way. So, what exactly is different?


That’s right: THC – or D9-Tetrahydrocannabinol – is the difference between Broad Spectrum and Full Spectrum. THC is the infamous part of the marijuana plant that leads to psychoactive effects. Broad Spectrum CBD products contain no THC at all, and when I say “no THC” I mean none. This isn’t a “well it contains very little THC” deal, but it in fact contains none of it. By contrast, Full Spectrum products do contain THC. It isn’t much – only up to 0.3% by dry weight of the plant’s leaves and buds 1 – but it is still present, and it will show up on a drug test for up to four weeks! 2 That is important difference number 1.

Important difference number 2 comes down to the effects of THC. Inside the human body, THC can affect multiple receptors beyond just the ordinary cannabinoid receptors of CB1 and CB2. THC can target opioid and benzodiazepine receptors 3,4, which means it can add a little bit more “oomph” into pain-relief properties. THC can also target CB1 receptor directly – unlike CBD – but this can pose a problem when the body is unable to easily degrade THC. With only a concentration of 0.3%, it is unlikely that any major psychotic elements of the THC will come through. But it still can.

free sample guide

In summary, Full Spectrum CBD will show up on a drug test as positive for THC (or marijuana, in other words) and may be able to provide slightly stronger pain-relieving effects. It may also increase the risk of maladies associated with the brain. Broad Spectrum CBD, by contrast, is not as potent in relieving pain, but will not show up on any kind of drug test, nor is it likely to perturb the brain in any adverse ways (if anything, it is likely to do the opposite). Choose your CBD product carefully, and in general, try to stay away from the Full Spectrum unless you have stronger pain, no drug-tested employment, and no deterrence with the small albeit still possible cerebral side effects. Good luck!


1 Hilderbrand, R. L. "Hemp & Cannabidiol: What Is a Medicine?" Missouri Medicine 2018. Accessed April 18, 2019.  

2 Hadland, Scott E., and Sharon Levy. "Objective Testing: Urine and Other Drug Tests." Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America. July 2016. Accessed April 18, 2019.

3 Vaysse, J., Gardner, and Zukin. "Modulation of Rat Brain Opioid Receptors byCannabinoids." Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. May 01, 1987. Accessed April 18, 2019.         .

4 Sharma, Priyamvada, Pratima Murthy, and M. M Srinivas Bharath. "Chemistry, Metabolism, andToxicology of Cannabis: Clinical Implications." Iranian Journal of Psychiatry. 2012. Accessed April 18, 2019. 


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