Understanding the Differences Between Full-Spectrum and Broad-Spectrum Hemp Extracts

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full-spectrum and broad-spectrum

Thanks to its versatility and the interest in its primary component (i.e., CBD), the hemp extract market is booming. With that added attention, however, come questions about the two most common extracts: full-spectrum and broad-spectrum.

For example, how do full-spectrum and broad-spectrum extracts differ? And what makes one option more preferable than the other? Before deciding which to include in your products, let’s try to answer these questions.

We can start by looking at hemp extracts through a broader lens. The cannabis plant is legally defined as hemp when it has less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — any more than that, and it’s legally considered marijuana in the US.

Extracts from hemp plants can contain a high concentration of cannabidiol, or CBD, other cannabinoids in lower quantities, and other types of molecules such as terpenes and flavonoids. Depending on what’s left in the hemp extract after post-processing refinement steps, the extract is referred to as full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate.

Because the hemp plant contains all those compounds, it can produce what is known as an “entourage effect,” which means the compounds work together to create maximum benefits. For this reason, some people believe it’s more beneficial to create hemp products that retain the plethora of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids — the presence of which determines whether an extract is full- or broad-spectrum.

Neptune Wellness Solutions’ full-spectrum products contain 60% to 70% CBD, with the remainder coming from other plant-derived cannabinoids, terpenes, and oils. Terpenes are the compounds in plants that are responsible for smell and taste. In hemp, these give the distinct earthy aroma and flavor.

Full-spectrum extracts often contain small amounts of THC, though it’s not enough to produce the “high” effect. Because our full-spectrum products include cannabinoids as well as other plant-derived molecules, they have the potential for a greater entourage effect. Full-spectrum extracts are often used in tinctures, soft gels, and capsules.

Broad-spectrum extracts, on the other hand, start as full-spectrum but are then refined to remove most compounds except cannabinoids — including all traces of THC when desirable. Neptune’s broad-spectrum extracts contain 70% to 80% CBD, with fewer cannabinoids and terpenes than our full-spectrum products.

Even with fewer compounds from the plant, broad-spectrum extracts are just as effective. Some people prefer products without additional phytomolecules because they have a less intense flavor and scent. Broad-spectrum extracts are often used in topicals, balms, and edible products.

Whether extracts are full-spectrum or broad-spectrum, they can be sourced from hemp or marijuana plants. As a result, you always want to make sure you understand the source of your extracts — especially if you do business in multiple states. While it might be perfectly legal to sell an extract derived from a marijuana plant in states where recreational cannabis is legal, you could run into some issues if you were to bring that product into a state where recreational cannabis is illegal.

While they have their differences, both full- and broad-spectrum extracts provide a range of benefits to users looking for specific outcomes. Make sure each strand is sourced responsibly, and then choose whatever one yields the effect you’re aiming to produce.

At Neptune, we are transparent about our hemp from seed to sale so we can offer high-quality hemp extracts. Whether you choose our full- or broad-spectrum extracts for your products, you’ll get a top-notch ingredient.