Buying CBD can be a confusing activity. Instead of understanding fully what we are buying into, we tend to consult with friends and family first and copy what they have tried (and hopefully tested).

This article will hopefully make things a bit clearer for you.

It’s important to understand that each person responds differently to CBD. What may work for one, may not work for you. But before delving into the whole plant CBD vs isolate debate, we should understand what they both mean.

Whole Plant CBD

Whole plant CBD is pretty much what you think it is. The whole plant is used during the extraction process. You may have heard the term full spectrum which refers to the multiple cannabinoids that are extracted from the whole plant. Not just CBD.

Think of whole plant CBD as a multi-vitamin. If you were to look closely at a c annabis bud, they are covered in a sticky dusting of crystal resin. This contains hundreds of compounds known as cannabinoids and terpenoids.

Cannabinoids such as: CDBa, CBG, CBN, CBGA, CBC and of course, CBD.


Again, as it sounds. Everything is stripped out of the extraction process other than just one cannabinoid; CBD.

Until 2015 it was believed that ‘pure’ CBD, or CBD isolate, packed the most punch. However, research from Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology found that a bell-shaped dose-response was found when using CBD isolate.

Which, to you and me, means it stopped working.

Side note: Israel’s Hebrew University of Jerusalem is a global leader of CBD oil research. Dr. Rahael Mechoulam was the first to identify the chemical structure of cannabinoids back in 1960.

The research showed that CBD was much more effective when used with other compounds of the plant. Producing what is known as the entourage effect.

Why whole plant CBD matters

Whole plant CBD is a term used to describe the full spectrum of therapeutic compounds the c annabis plant has to offer. See the image on the effects that research has shown cannabinoids to have:


How to tell if you’re buying whole-plant CBD or Isolate

Check the label on the bottle which should state ‘whole plant’ or ‘full spectrum’ extract. But be buyer-aware, many CBD oil products state they are ‘full spectrum’ when they only contain one or two cannabinoids. This is not full spectrum.

Check the lab reports on the product website. If they list just CBD, or CBD and CBDa content, you can be sure it’s isolate.

Final notes: Whole plant CBD vs isolate

Isolate comes in a pure powder as opposed to a thick paste and does have a relevant place in the CBD market. People will use it in coffee or make edibles out of it. As its powder, it is easy to measure out which is a good option for those who want to take an exact dosage.

For the majority of users though, a high-quality whole plant CBD oil will be the more effective option simply because all the cannabinoids work together, each playing a different role in the endocannabinoid system.

That being said, it’s still important to do plenty of research to find a reputable CBD manufacturer. Get opinions from friends, family, Facebook forums, speak to the manufacturers themselves (a great company will welcome your call) and of course have a good read on their website.

The market remains unregulated and it’s getting busy out there with more and more CBD sellers appearing. Making sure that what you are buying is exactly what you need, has never been more important.