What is CBD Isolate?


For those familiar with CBD, you may have already heard of CBD isolate’s siblings – full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD. Essentially, isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum are adjectives used to describe different forms of CBD products relating to the cannabinoid component within. Let us take a closer look as to what they all mean individually before focussing in-depth on CBD isolate.

What is CBD and Where Does it Come From?

Before we begin, it is important to understand a little about the origins of CBD so that we are best able to understand its different forms when it comes to the products we use. CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it is one of cannabinoids and other compounds that are found in hemp plants.

Hemp plants are familiar the whole world over thanks to their familiar shaped leaves that are often used to represent cannabis or medical marijuana. However, users of CBD need not be too concerned with the link between the two as CBD typically does not contain the active component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is what gives cannabis users the ‘high’ feeling.

Full-Spectrum CBD

CBD described as being full-spectrum usually means that the product contains every original cannabinoid from the hemp plants. This includes a tiny amount of THC, but not enough that it will give the user a ‘high’. For clarity, full-spectrum CBD oils contain less than 0.03% THC.

Broad-Spectrum CBD

A broad-spectrum CBD oil means that all the cannabinoids from the hemp plant are included in the extract except for THC.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is the third version of CBD available. But what is it exactly? As the word isolate implies, this form of CBD is CBD in isolation, i.e., it does not contain any other cannabinoids or other ingredients and is pure cannabidiol. This form of CBD, although slightly less common around the world, is a type of CBD that is often used by professional athletes thanks to its purity. This gives them the boost that they need without the worry that THC will appear in sports drugs testing.

Making CBD Isolate

The manufacturing process of CBD isolate can be considered both complex and simple. It is simple since there are only a few steps to take. However, its complexity comes into play with the meticulous scientific work that goes into ensuring the product is pure.

First, the extraction of the CBD can take many forms and there is no sure-fire method of extraction that is a global standard in obtaining CBD isolate. Most manufacturers of CBD isolate use either ethanol or CO2 extraction. Let us have a look at both methods.

CO2 Extraction

Many in the CBD industry consider CO2 extraction to be the most efficient and high-tech extraction method in the industry. This method involves using carbon dioxide at a very low temperature yet high pressure which removes the cannabinoids along with all the terpenes from hemp. This extraction process produces a product that is extremely pure when it is done correctly. However, the equipment cost is very high, and it is often difficult to do if you are not experienced in the method. As such, many companies are put off by this complexity and continue with tried and tested ethanol extraction methods.

Ethanol Extraction

Ethanol extraction is an older method and does not use as much high-tech equipment as CO2 extraction. However, it is a safe, effective and above all simple way of separating cannabidiol from hemp flowers. This method uses high-quality grain alcohol, which is more commonly known as ethanol. The ethanol is a solvent, releasing the cannabinoids including CBD from the help flowers.

Both ethanol extraction and CO2 extraction are effective methods of extracting CBD and the decision between the two is often taken simply due to the manufacturer’s preference. Once the cannabinoids have been extracted, the next process is the same, regardless of the extraction method used.


The terpenes and cannabinoids stripped from the hemp plant need to be separated to create the CBD isolate. This process is known as “winterization”. If you are thinking that this sounds like it is taken directly from Disney’s Frozen movie, you would not be too far off the mark. Winterization involves soaking the extract in more alcohol but this time freezing it until the CBD isolate in its pure form has separated from all the other compounds including plant matter, chlorophyll and fats. Once this has been achieved, the result is a white isolate powder without any other cannabinoids of THC. Pretty cool, huh?

Uses for CBD Isolate

CBD isolate works in the same way as other CBD products. Indeed, many products themselves are made from CBD isolate such as topicals, gummies and tinctures. As mentioned, given that CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, it is a favourite amongst athletes and others who would fail a drugs test if they had traces of THC in their system. Having said that, it is important to realise that not all isolates are entirely devoid of terpenes and other cannabinoids.

Effects of CBD Isolate

CBD isolate works in the same way as other forms of CBD, triggering the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. You may be wondering why the human body has such receptors! That is all because the body produces cannabinoids by itself too. These home-grown cannabinoids influence many functions within the body such as a person’s appetite, mood, pain perception, levels of inflammation and even memory. Many researchers believe that CBD has an influence on the body’s receptors and activates them, enhancing the body’s own effects within itself. In this way, using CBD can trigger the body to better cope with illness or disease. Once triggered, over time the body learns to compensate and produces more of its own cannabinoids and the user needs less CBD.

Let us summarise the potential effects that CBD isolate can bring about:

  1. It could fight inflammation and lower inflammatory markers within the body.
  2. It could work as an antiemetic and prevent vomiting.
  3. It could boost the immune system.
  4. It could help to regenerate or recover the nervous system from illness or disease.
  5. It could help fight against tumour formation.
  6. It could help to reduce and even prevent anxiety.
  7. It could work as an anticonvulsant to reduce or prevent seizures. Indeed, research has proven its effects regarding this.
  8. It could work as an analgesic and prevent or relieve pain.

Aside from these aspects, research has shown that CBD also influences other receptions in the body so serotonin receptions are called 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTTP).  As many readers may know, serotonin is a chemical in the body that affects one’s anxiety and depression levels in addition to affecting one’s ability to sleep. This research can therefore go some way to explaining why CBD can ease these symptoms in those that take it.

CBD Isolate – More or Less of an Effect?

A study on mice suggested that although CBD isolate offers benefits to your health, some of these could have a slightly reduced effect compared with the effects of a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD product. The results indicated that isolate is effective against swelling and pain only at a certain dose. However, full-spectrum CBD continued to have increased effects with the increase in dosage.

Despite this, if someone is unable to take a full-spectrum product due to its THC content, CBD isolate makes a great choice.

CBD Isolate Pros

CBD is a great choice for those who:

  • Are looking for a product that is flavourless or odourless. Some CBD isolates do have added flavouring but there are plenty of options that do not.
  • Want to consume bigger doses of CBD. Isolate allows the user to take more CBD without the worry of therefore also inadvertently increasing THC consumption.
  • Must take regular drug tests that would show up THC.


CBD Isolate Side Effects

Whilst there is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to CBD isolate and its side effects, there are a few which crop up now and again. Generally, it is low-risk, especially CBD isolate where there is no THC or other compounds. Nevertheless, for the more sensitive among us, there could be a few side effects including:

  • Appetite changes
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weight changes
  • Sleep disturbances or insomnia
  • Irritability

There is also the risk that CBD could interact with over-the-counter and prescription medications. For this reason, it is important to talk to your pharmacist or doctor before beginning to take CBD and related products. Dietary supplements also pose another slight risk of interaction with CBD, particularly those that carry the grapefruit warning such as atorvastatin, a cholesterol drug.

It may seem bizarre that drugs with a grapefruit warning would also need a CBD warning. This is because CBD (and grapefruit) interact with the metabolism processes of certain medications and, as such, if taking CBD, the medication may not work or could have dangerous side effects.

It is also worth being aware of dosing with CBD. Taking large quantities of any substance can cause liver toxicity. If you are concerned about this risk and the dose of CBD that you intend to take it is important to speak to a medical practitioner with expertise in this field.

How to Choose a CBD Isolate

Choosing a CBD isolate can be fraught with anxiety. However, there are several steps that you can take to prevent any mishaps or false purchases. First and foremost, quality is everything when it comes to CBD isolate. Indeed, you must choose a CBD isolate manufacturer that puts quality first and commits to quality control measures and quality assurance including third-party lab testing.

Testing products in a third-party lab goes some way to reassuring the customer that the CBD isolate product in the container is what it says it is and that it is pure CBD without any of the other components that the consumer is usually keen to avoid. It is also important that the laboratory carrying out the testing is compliant with ISO_17025.

When looking at a company’s testing certificates, you should verify that the CBD contains less than 0.3% THC on its certificate of analysis (COA). It should also pass the tests for heavy metals, moulds and pesticides. The testing should also show a product’s potency so that consumers can verify how many milligrams of CBD is in their product. Likewise, all ingredients should be listed, which for CBD isolate should be very few.

Next up, the company should always disclose their hemp source. Knowing where your product originated from is crucial these days.

Another indicator of a good brand and good source of CBD Isolate is that the company has certifications throughout its manufacturing processes. Certifications should be worth the paper they are written on though!

It is also important to consider a brand’s reputation and its indications of user trust such as reviews from customers and whether there have been any warning letters issued previously by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Lastly, whilst no health product is proven to be 100% effective, any claims that the company makes regarding its benefits must be substantiated with evidence. Unfortunately, CBD cannot cure all ills and no legitimate company would claim that it could.

The Summary

Whilst CBD isolate offers similar benefits to other forms of CBD, CBD isolate is unique in that it does not contain any THC at all. This is imperative for someone who is avoiding THC or for those who must do drug screening as a part of their role or for their work such as competitive sportspeople. It has also shown its worth in terms of the benefits it offers, such as in reducing pain, inflammation and anxiety too. Having said that, the research has shown that there may be increased benefits from full- or broad-spectrum CBD products. Lastly, it is important to always choose a CBD to isolate that is from a reputable company, particularly one that prides itself on third-party testing and quality assurance. That way, you can be as sure as you can be that the isolate is free from THC and any other contaminants or impurities.

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