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If you follow wellness trends, you’ve probably heard about CBD. It’s showing some promising benefits — including reducing symptoms of anxiety, improving sleep, and managing pain.

But there are a bunch of different ways to add CBD into your self-care routine. Not only are there different ways to take it — like oils, capsules, tinctures, topicals, and gummies — but there are different types of CBD too: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. It’s a lot, we know.

Full-spectrum CBD has its own special advantages and disadvantages that make it a unique player in the CBD game. If you’re looking to add a little CBD into your life, it’s a great option — but there are def some things to know before diving in.

We dug into all the latest research about full-spectrum CBD and vetted the most popular brands to find you the highest quality full-spectrum CBD products out there. Let’s get started, shall we?

Let’s back up. To help you understand what full-spectrum CBD is, it’s helpful to know the following:

  • There are more than 100 cannabinoids in cannabis and hemp plants. The two most researched are CBD and THC. THC is the one that makes you feel “high,” while CBD won’t give you the same psychoactive effect.
  • Another major player in the game is terpenes. These aromatic compounds are known for having therapeutic benefits of their own. These are found in other places in nature too — including essential oils.
  • Yet another helping hand is flavonoids. These also have shown to have therapeutic benefits — they’re found in things like fruits, veggies, wine, tea, and chocolate. Yum.

Full-spectrum CBD is CBD that contains allll of the above compounds naturally found in the cannabis plant — including THC (though never more than 0.3 percent of it).

Full-spectrum CBD’s cousins — broad-spectrum and isolate — don’t contain all of these compounds. Broad-spectrum contains all of the terpenes and flavonoids, but no THC. Isolate is nothing but CBD.

Here’s a little chart to break down how they all differ:

CBDTHCTerpenesFlavonoids
Full-spectrum
Broad-spectrumX
IsolateXXX

How do you know if full-spectrum is the right type of CBD for you? Let’s break down the pros and cons.

Pros

Full-spectrum CBD has been getting a lot of love lately, as research suggests that keeping all of those compounds together (THC included) enhances their therapeutic benefits — especially when it comes to mood disorders and anxiety. This is lovingly referred to as the “entourage effect.”

There is some research that says CBD can be beneficial on its own — it just requires a specific dose that can be hard to find.

The presence of THC, in particular, may help give full-spectrum CBD an extra anti-inflammatory, pain-busting boost that broad-spectrum and CBD isolate products don’t have.

Another pro of full-spectrum CBD is its easy availability. You can find a wide variety of full-spectrum products (including oils, pills, capsules, gummies, and topicals) online or in many health/wellness stores.

Cons

One of full-spectrum CBD’s biggest assets is also one of the biggest strikes against it: THC. This isn’t a con for everybody, though.

Full-spectrum products generally contain small amounts of THC. Hemp-derived products will never contain more than 0.3 percent, but cannabis-derived CBD products can contain more — so it’s important to check whether products are in line with what may or may not be legal in your state.

The THC can also put full-spectrum CBD users at risk of testing positive on a drug test — especially if you use full-spectrum products daily for an extended period of time.

If you want to avoid THC altogether, broad-spectrum or CBD isolate products are def a better option for you.

When comparing these full-spectrum CBD products, we considered many factors, but the CBD itself wasn’t what made these our top picks. Instead, we chose these products based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency.

We made sure to include products that:

  • are produced by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • are made with U.S.-grown hemp
  • contain no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • have passing levels of pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, and molds, according to the COA

Other factors we considered in selecting these products:

  • company certifications and manufacturing processes
  • product potency
  • overall ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:
    • customer reviews
    • whether the company makes any unsupported health claims

Pricing guide

Full-spectrum CBD comes in a variety of forms and volumes, so we included picks to fit any budget.

$ = under $50
$$ = $50–75
$$$ = over $75

Below are our picks for some of the best full-spectrum CBD products on the market.

Best full-spectrum CBD topical

CBDfx CBD Cream For Muscle & Joint: Cooling Formula

  • Price: $$$
  • CBD per serving: N/A
  • Total CBD: 1,000 milligrams (mg)
  • COA: available online

This cream is made with organic hemp and fortified with icy menthol (a known pain reliever), caffeine, and white willow bark (another pain reliever with anti-inflammatory properties).

This CBD cream absorbs quickly to deliver fast-acting, long-lasting cooling calm to sore muscles and joints. It’s also vegan, cruelty-free, and made in the U.S. — plus, it’s got a 60-day money back guarantee. So, if it doesn’t solve your achy breaky muscle pain, you can return it for a full refund.

Users enjoy how quickly this cream sets in to ease all sorts of pain, including arthritis, stressed muscles, and nerve pain. They’re also fans of how easy it is to apply and that it doesn’t leave a greasy residue. The biggest gripe they have is the cost — CBDfx does run on the pricier side.

Best rated full-spectrum CBD

NuLeaf Naturals Full-Spectrum Hemp CBD Oil

This full-spectrum CBD oil from NuLeaf Naturals is made from organic virgin hemp seed oil. Oils like this are sweet because you can drop them underneath your tongue for quick absorption — but the manufacturer also suggests mixing it with a moisturizer to apply to your body to soothe unhappy muscles. We love a twofer!

Reviewers rave about this one, giving it an average of 4.9 stars from over 23,000 reviews. Many say it helps relieve pain, insomnia, and anxiety. They’re also big fans of NuLeaf’s customer service, which is a big plus.

Best full-spectrum CBD oil

Absolute Nature CBD Full-Spectrum CBD Oil Drops

Absolute Nature CBD tincture’s is made using MCT oil (fractionated coconut oil), which is supposed to increase CBD absorption and maximize its benefits. Made with organic GMO-free hemp, this CBD oil is also vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free.

Absolute Nature has a special dropper that’s supposed to make it easier to get the right dose (which can be kind of annoying to do with a regular dropper) and avoid a sticky, drippy mess.

Reviewers call this oil high quality and praise how well it helps with sleep, anxiety, and pain. Keep in mind that it isn’t flavored, so it’ll have that strong earthy taste typical of unflavored CBD products.

Read our full review of Absolute Nature here.

Best budget full-spectrum CBD

CBDistillery Full-Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture

If you’re on a budget, CBDistillery is where it’s at. It’s a real bang for your buck — especially considering you get 17 mg per serving at this price point.

Besides hemp-based oil, this full-spectrum oil contains MCT oil to help increase CBD absorption. The hemp in this product isn’t organic, but it is GMO-free.

Customers emphasize that this product helps them feel relaxed and get better sleep. A few customers even say they started with CBDistillery’s isolate tincture and could really see a difference after switching to the full-spectrum version.

Best flavored full-spectrum CBD

FOCL Orange Cream Full-Spectrum CBD Drops

FOCL offers a delicious option with its Orange Cream Swirl CBD Drops. This CBD oil is produced with GMO-free, U.S.-grown hemp, and its formula also contains coconut-derived MCT oil and organic flavors.

Reviewers say the orange flavor is actually amazing — which is kinda hard to come by with CBD oils. If orange isn’t your thing, it also comes in mint and cherry flavors. The company offers a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you can feel confident giving this one a shot.

Best full-spectrum CBD capsules

Charlotte’s Web CBD Oil Liquid Capsules

  • Price: $$
  • CBD per serving: 25 mg
  • Total CBD: 2,250 mg per 30-ct bottle
  • COA: available online

With only two simple ingredients — full-spectrum hemp extract and organic EVOO — these capsules have little fuss and a whole lotta impact. Compared to standard softgels, these liquid capsules don’t contain unnecessary extra ingredients, like gelatin, glycerin, or carrageenan. Plus, they dissolve more quickly, so you can reap the calming CBD benefits sooner.

Many reviewers say that these capsules are their key to a good night’s sleep, as well as helpful in relieving anxiety and reducing minor pains. Some people who started with Charlotte’s Web’s powdered capsules were disappointed that these replaced their beloved product — especially because the dosage changed, too. But most users say the new version works just as well as the other.

Best full-spectrum CBD gummies

Bluebird Botanicals CBD Gummies

Made with all plant-based ingredients, these yummy gummies contain organic cane sugar and come in three delicious flavors: lemon, strawberry, and watermelon. Bluebird Botanicals uses all clean ingredients, including full-spectrum hemp extract that features over 110 cannabinoids to deliver soothing relaxation and promote overall wellness.

Bluebird gummy reviewers rave about the taste and claim that these don’t have any weird aftertastes, like other products sometimes do. They’re also fond of the low sugar count (only 2 grams per serving). While users are overall satisfied with the product, they do wish the bag was larger — it’s only available in a 30-count pack.

There are tons of full-spectrum CBD products on the market, so how do you choose the right one for you? Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a quality CBD product:

  • Make sure the certificate of analysis (COA) is up-to-date (and from a third-party lab!).
  • Verify that the product contains less than 0.3 percent THC.
  • Read what reviewers are saying. This may help you determine whether the product is legit and suitable for your specific needs.
  • Be suspicious of products that have customer complaints or outstanding lawsuits.
  • Check labels for misleading ingredients.
  • Be wary of boastful marketing. CBD is cool, but it’s not a cure-all, so if a claim seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Wondering what the heck a “carrier oil” is? It’s an oil that carries the CBD and other phytochemicals, helping dissolve the compounds of the hemp plant. Make sure your CBD uses a carrier oil that’s safe for you.

You’ll also want to consider the type of CBD product to get. But while having to choose between oils and gummies and topicals (oh my!) may seem overwhelming, we’ve got your back.

  • Oils or tinctures. This is one of the fastest ways to reap the benefits of CBD. Oils and tinctures are extracted directly from the plant and diluted with a carrier oil. They’re usually taken orally, so they hit your bloodstream quicker than other forms, making them good for those looking for fast-acting CBD effects.
  • Edibles (and eatables!). Basically any kind of CBD product you can ingest falls under the edibles category, including pills, capsules, gummies, fizzy drinks, and even candy (like chocolate, yum!). These are great options for those who aren’t looking for immediate impact, as research shows that edible CBD products absorb more slowly.
  • Topicals. Topical CBD — like lotions, creams, and balms — are applied directly to the skin (read: don’t eat!) for soothing relief. They’re an effective way to target a specific area, making them a particularly great option for those with arthritis, muscle pain, period cramps, or certain skin conditions.

Talk with your doc about full-spectrum CBD

Check with your doctor before using CBD, especially if you regularly take any medication, because CBD can interact badly with some medications.

If you choose to use a full-spectrum CBD oil or tincture, you’ll simply use the dropper to measure your dose, squeeze the drops under your tongue, and hold the liquid there for about 20 seconds before swallowing.

If you like to experiment, you can also mix CBD oil with your favorite drink or add a few drops to your moisturizer to massage into your skin.

If you opt for gummies, capsules, or other edible forms of CBD, all you gotta do is eat or swallow the product. Be sure not to overdo it, though: CBD edibles aren’t meant to be noshed on like a bag of chips — one or two pieces will suffice. Be sure to follow the serving directions for your specific product to make sure you’re not exceeding the recommended amount.

Topical CBD products are applied directly to the skin in the area where you’re feeling pain or discomfort. As with any topical product, be cautious using on cracked or broken skin to avoid irritation. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions (or your doctor’s orders!) on how much to use.

Dosage

If you’re new to CBD, start with a smaller dose to see how it feels, and then increase over time if needed. For full-spectrum CBD, you can start at 5 mg. You might have to adjust your dose depending on your weight and the issue you’re trying to address.

Are there any side effects of taking CBD?

While CBD is well-tolerated by humans, some people experience mild side effects like:

Is CBD safe?

CBD is generally considered safe, but the FDA doesn’t guarantee the safety, effectiveness, or quality of over-the-counter CBD products. Some companies take advantage of this and sell unapproved CBD products with unsubstantiated health claims. That’s why it’s super important to do your own research before buying any CBD product.

What is full-spectrum CBD?

Full-spectrum CBD is one of three types of CBD. Unlike broad-spectrum or CBD isolate, full-spectrum CBD contains all of the naturally-occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant — including THC.

What are the benefits of full-spectrum CBD?

From easing anxiety to soothing stress, full-spectrum CBD is best known for its therapeutic benefits. When used topically, it can help provide pain relief to sore muscles, achy joints, inflammation, or even menstrual cramps.

What’s the difference between broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD?

The difference between broad- and full-spectrum CBD comes down to one thing: THC. Full-spectrum CBD contains *all* of the cannabis plant’s natural compounds, including THC. Broad-spectrum, however, contains all of the plant’s compounds *except* THC.

Does full spectrum CBD have THC?

Yes. Full-spectrum CBD contains THC — as well as all of the other compounds found in the cannabis plant.

The science behind CBD is still pretty new, and what works for one person may not work for another. If you’re curious about full-spectrum CBD, doing your research and finding a quality product to try could help you find some relief.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.