CBD has emerged as major force in the wellness health market across much of Western society in the past ten years. According to the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry, the UK CBD market is worth nearly £690 million in 2021. A combination of recently harmonised CBD legislation across the EU and UK, along with technological advances in plant-based science and expansion in the variety of product types containing CBD, has rapidly advanced the industry into the mainstream. As the CBD market continues to grow, so does the variety of products available.
From an initial industry focus on CBD oils, products now cover a range of ingestible, topical, and inhalable formats and may be purchased from a wide range of commercial stores and pharmacies.
The most important debate surrounding CBD is what is right for you.
What is CBD?
CBD is the second primary compound found in the cannabis plant and has been used for thousands of years for various health and spiritual needs. The three main types of CBD, isolate, broad-spectrum and full-spectrum, each help to alleviate different symptoms.
According to a 2011 review in the British Journal of Pharmacology, broad-spectrum CBD can help reduce anxiety, pain, and inflammation, in addition to other physical and mental health ailments. More recent research has further strengthened these arguments, wider numbers of people are looking for alternative products to improve their health and wellness. CBD products are what has allowed cannabis to be slowly accepted into the mainstream media and onto the shelves of highstreets in the UK.
What is the difference between ‘isolate’ and ‘broad spectrum CBD’, and why should I care?
CBD isolate is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant once it’s been extracted through various processes, resulting in pure CBD crystal or powder form. This process removes all other beneficial cannabinoids such as CGB, CBC, CBN, as well as the illegal THC.
Numerous studies have shown the calming properties and therapeutic benefits of CBD isolate as an ingredient in health and wellness topical products. These products come in several formats including CBD oils, CBD topicals and soluble CBD to list just a few. In addition, CBD isolate products tend to be more affordable as they contain fewer ingredients. At this current time, products containing CBD isolate are cheaper than broad-spectrum products as they essentially contain fewer ingredients and healthy cannabinoids.
CBD broad-spectrum is like full-spectrum CBD in that it can contain additional compounds from the cannabis plant through its extraction. This results in broad-spectrum offering more health benefits than CBD isolate due to something called the entourage effect. This effect implies that CBD and terpenes together can enhance the perceived health and wellness benefits of CBD.
Broad-spectrum CBD is typically sold in oil and tincture formats and is generally the more popular choice over isolate products, due to the greater perceived therapeutic properties and compounds found in broad spectrum. However, oil-based products, have very low bioavailability as the human body is not designed to digest fat-based products. This means that a lot of the CBD is wasted through excretion as your body can’t absorb it. This is an issue that water-soluble formats have resolved. Water soluble CBD is up to 9x stronger than that of oils, as your body is able to digest almost all of the CBD.
The range of products available along with the formulations of various CBD extracts has allowed the CBD market to establish itself. The fundamental growth of CBD in the UK and across Western society shows that the sector is here to stay, and that product innovation will continue to be rewarded in the marketplace. The continued education of the public about the potential of cannabis for wellness, health and even medical uses is paramount for the industry to become sustainable.
 The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry. White Paper: How to Enter UK’s £690 CBD market. Published 2021 May. theaci.co.uk
 Weston-Green K. The United Chemicals of Cannabis: Beneficial Effects of Cannabis Phytochemicals on the Brain and Cognition. Intechopen. Published 2018 Nov 5. DOI:10.5772/intechopen.79266
 Russo, EB. Taming THC: Potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-Terpenoid entourage effects: Cannabinoids In Biology and Medicine, Part 1. British Journal of Pharmacology. Published 2011, Jan 12. DOI:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238
 Russo EB. The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain. Front Plant Sci. 2019; 9:1969. Published 2019 Jan 9. doi:10.3389/fpls.2018.01969