What Are the Types of CBD Products? + Nano CBD and Terminology Explained

If you’re confused by the labels on CBD products, you aren’t alone. According to a 2024 survey, one-third of adults in the US aren’t clear on the differences between CBD isolate, broad-spectrum CBD, and full-spectrum CBD.(1)

Understanding the types of CBD is the first step to deciphering which product is best for you. Let’s equip you with the knowledge you need to find the right CBD products for your lifestyle. 

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol, also referred to as CBD, is one of over 140 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, which includes both marijuana and hemp varieties. 

CBD is the second most prevalent cannabinoid after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it does not produce the "high" associated with marijuana use. Instead, CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, resulting in a range of potential therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and pain-relieving properties.(2

Many users report that CBD provides relief from symptoms without intoxicating effects.

Types of CBD

There are three types of CBD extracts that you can expect to encounter in the marketplace:

  • Full-spectrum CBD
  • Broad-spectrum CBD
  • CBD isolate

You’ll also find CBD that has undergone an additional process known as nanoemulsification. These CBD products are labeled as nano CBD or nano-optimized CBD.

Depending on how CBD is extracted from cannabis, it may or may not contain THC and plant compounds such as flavonoids and terpenes. Flavonoids and terpenes are found in fruits, vegetables, and herbs, impacting a plant’s antioxidant content, color, aroma, and flavor. 

The combined effect of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids working together is known as the entourage effect and is believed to enhance the overall therapeutic impact.

Full-spectrum CBD drops

What Is Full-Spectrum CBD?

Full-spectrum CBD contains a wide range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds found in cannabis. This includes trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), though typically at levels below 0.3% to comply with legal standards in many regions. If you’re not clear on the THC levels, you can review the product’s certificate of analysis.

Those seeking whole-plant benefits who aren’t concerned about traces of THC often prefer full-spectrum CBD.

Full-spectrum CBD:

  • Has entourage effect potential. Because full-spectrum CBD preserves all the inherent cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other plant goodness (like minerals and vitamins) it offers the best potential for the entourage effect. As such, there's a chance that full-spectrum CBD could be more potent or more effective than other types of CBD.
  • Is minimally processed. Refining CBD oil often requires using chemicals (like solvents). Plus, the more processing of the CBD oil extract, the more opportunity to introduce contaminants. Of the three types of CBD, full-spectrum CBD is the “closest to the earth.”
  • Is fairly easy to find. Many CBD retailers carry a variety of full-spectrum CBD products.

However, it's important to note that full-spectrum CBD may contain more than the federally legal amount of THC (0.3%). And, since there’s potentially more THC in full-spectrum CBD:

  • You may notice some of the effects of the THC — like a slight euphoria.
  • There’s a greater chance you’d fail a drug test.(3)
  • It’s illegal in some states (even if it’s made from hemp and has 0.3% THC or less).
  • It may retain an earthy smell and taste due to the presence of other compounds.
Full-spectrum CBD includes other cannabinoids

What Is Broad-Spectrum CBD?

Like full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD features an array of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other plant substances. The key difference is that broad-spectrum CBD has undergone additional processing to remove the THC. While there may still be trace amounts of THC loitering in your broad-spectrum CBD product — there should be no more than 0.3% THC.

Broad-spectrum CBD is a popular choice for individuals seeking the comprehensive benefits of CBD with a lower risk of exposure to THC. A common form is broad-spectrum CBD oil. What is broad-spectrum CBD oil? It’s broad-spectrum CBD infused into a carrier oil and is consumed by dropping it under the tongue — one of many ways to consume this type of CBD.

Broad-spectrum CBD:

  • Isn’t as processed as isolate CBD. Again, the less refined the CBD extract is, the fewer chemicals involved and the lower the risk of inadvertently tainting the CBD oil.
  • Still has entourage effect potential. With broad-spectrum CBD’s full complement of phytocompounds, there’s a good chance you may experience this beneficial synergy.
  • Won’t cause any THC-related intoxication. THC in such low quantities is unlikely to spark any THC-induced psychoactive effects.
  • Is widely available. Broad-spectrum CBD can be found in practically every corner of our country in about a million different incarnations.
  • Is federally legal. The 2018 Farm Bill made it federally legal to sell, transport, buy, own, and use hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC, but compliance with FDA regulations and state laws is also necessary.

Keep in mind, though, that broad-spectrum CBD might:

  • Still have some of the signature weedy flavor and aroma of cannabis.
  • Be illegal in some states. Certain states have CBD rules that are more restrictive than the federal regulation, making CBD with any amount of THC fall on the wrong side of the law.
  • Show up on a drug screening. While it is less likely for broad-spectrum CBD products to cause a positive drug test compared to full-spectrum products, there is still a risk, albeit small. If avoiding a positive drug test is crucial, you may want to consider using CBD isolate products, which contain only CBD and no other cannabinoids.
Broad-spectrum CBD contains no THC

What Are CBD Isolates?

CBD isolate has had everything but the cannabidiol removed from the extract. THC and all other cannabinoids and compounds are absent.

Concern about drug testing and psychoactive effects is a key reason why some people such as athletes and government workers prefer CBD isolates. 


Isolate CBD:

  • Is pure cannabidiol. There’s no THC whatsoever.
  • May be less likely to have environmental contaminants. (But it could still have residuals from all the processing it’s been through.)
  • Won’t be an issue if you take a drug test. Drug screenings react to the THC metabolites, which you won’t have without THC.
  • Has virtually no taste or scent. It’s pretty much a blank slate.

What else should you know about CBD isolate?

  • The odds of an entourage effect are zero. It’s impossible without other substances in CBD’s posse.
  • It won’t have the mind-altering effects of THC. CBD is 100% non-psychoactive.
  • It’s a highly processed version of CBD extract. It goes through additional steps which can degrade the integrity of the CBD.
CBD isolate is pure CBD

What Is Nano CBD?

Nano CBD refers to CBD that has been modified to reduce the size of the molecule while preserving its structure and capabilities. Nanotechnology improves the bioavailability of CBD. Greater bioavailability allows your ECS to absorb more CBD at a faster rate, leading to quicker effects and more effective results. With more bioavailable CBD, you may need to use less product. Many different brands and product formulations utilize nano CBD.

Greater bioavailability means your ECS can absorb more CBD and at a faster rate so that your product kicks in quicker and works more effectively. With a more bioavailable CBD, you may be able to use less product.

Many different brands and product formulations utilize nano CBD.

Types of CBD Products

The current options are staggering; the possibilities for future CBD products are limitless.

While certain forms are more common than others, you’ll see CBD oil made into the following kinds of products:

CBD oil tinctures, drops, & water solublesCBD softgels and capsules
CBD gummies and jelliesCBD-infused foods (like butter) & beverages
CBD chocolates and candiesCBD lozenges
Dissolvable CBD stripsCBD transdermal patches
Topical, oral, and nasal CBD spraysCBD topical creams, lotions, roll-ons, and ointments
Infused cosmeticsInfused hair, skin, and other beauty care items
CBD suppositoriesCBD-infused massage oils and personal lubricants
CBD flowerCBD wax
Smokable and vapable CBDPet care items, like CBD tincture for pets and CBD-infused treats

This is surely not an exhaustive list — new products are constantly being developed.

CBD Terminology

When you’re discussing or shopping for CBD, it’s helpful to know these terms:

CannabinoidsA class of chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant that interact with the body's endocannabinoid system to produce various effects. Examples include CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
CBDCBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants, known for its potential therapeutic benefits such as pain relief, anxiety reduction, and anti-inflammatory properties.
THCTHC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the "high" associated with marijuana use.
Full-spectrum CBDThis type of CBD contains all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds found in the cannabis plant, including trace amounts of THC, offering a holistic therapeutic approach known as the entourage effect.
Broad-spectrum CBDCertificate of Analysis (COA)
CBD isolateThe purest form of cannabidiol, containing only CBD with no THC. All other cannabinoids, terpenes, and plant compounds are removed. 
Nano CBDCBD molecules that have been reduced to nano-sized particles to improve bioavailability.
TerpenesAromatic compounds found in cannabis and other plants, contributing to the plant's scent and potentially enhancing the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids through the entourage effect.
FlavonoidsPlant compounds with antioxidant properties that contribute to the color, taste, and potential health benefits of cannabis.
Certificate of analysis (COA)A document provided by an independent lab that details the contents, purity, and potency of a CBD product, ensuring it meets specified quality standards and is free from contaminants.

Which Type of CBD Is Best?

The best type of CBD depends on individual needs and preferences, as there is no universally superior option. 

  • Full-spectrum CBD might be ideal for those seeking the comprehensive benefits of the entourage effect, which includes the synergistic interaction of multiple cannabinoids and trace amounts of THC. 
  • Broad-spectrum CBD, also provides the entourage effect but with only zero to trace amounts of THC. This can be a suitable choice for those who wish to avoid THC or consume what is considered non-detectable amounts of THC (< .3%). 
  • CBD isolate, containing only pure CBD, may be preferable for individuals sensitive to other cannabinoids or those who need to avoid THC for drug testing reasons. 

All types of CBD can be found as nano CBD, which offers enhanced absorption, making it attractive for people seeking quicker and more efficient results. 

Ultimately, the best type of CBD will vary based on personal health goals, sensitivity to cannabinoids, and legal considerations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 3 types of CBD?

The three types of CBD are: Full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate. Each has its own profile of included plant compounds. Only full- and broad-spectrum CBD contains at least trace amounts of THC. Isolate is pure cannabidiol.

What type of CBD is most effective?

Full-spectrum CBD is considered the strongest type of CBD because it’s the least processed and contains cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds. These substances are believed to have a synergistic relationship which enhances their effectiveness (the entourage effect). 

What are the different kinds of CBD?

There are seemingly endless kinds of CBD available. Popular forms include oils, tinctures, capsules, gummies, topical creams, and CBD-infused foods and beverages.

What is the most popular form of CBD?

The most popular form of CBD varies, but CBD edibles, oils, and tinctures are widely favored due to their versatility and ease of use.

What form of CBD is best for beginners?

CBD drops or edibles are typically recommended for beginners because they allow for easy dosing and offer a straightforward way to experience the effects of CBD.

References

  1. CBD Statistics, Data And Use (2024). Forbes. 
  2. Cannabidiol for Pain Treatment: Focus on Pharmacology and Mechanism of Action. 
  3. How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System? Healthline.
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About the Author

Green Bee Life founder Maria Calabrese author photo

Maria Calabrese, JD, MS

As the founder of Green Bee Life, Maria Calabrese is dedicated to raising consumer awareness within the cannabis industry, filling informational gaps, and fostering consumer confidence. Her work focuses on empowering consumers with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions, ensuring they find the most suitable cannabis solutions for their wellness needs. Maria's expertise helps bridge the connection between consumers and innovative cannabis insights, advocating for informed choices in the evolving landscape of cannabis as a wellness solution.

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