Cannabidiol (CBD) is a botanical compound found in the industrial hemp plant, or Cannabis sativa L.—a fast-growing and ancient crop that can thrive in many conditions. Different sections of the versatile plant can be used to make everything from clothes to cooking oils.
In its aerial parts—that’s the leaves, flowers, and stems—you’ll find hemp’s CBD, along with an array of other healthy plant compounds called phytocannabinoids (of which CBD is one of many, but a star player), terpenes, and flavonoids.
Once distilled from the plant, the hemp CBD can be turned into its own supplement known as an isolate product. Or, it can be combined with those other phytocannabinoids and beneficial plant compounds. When a hemp supplement product contains this full array of phytocannabinoids, it’s considered full-spectrum.
By U.S. law, all hemp plants must be bred to contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). That’s considered trace amounts (i.e., negligible) of this phytocannabinoid. In the European Union, they are more strict, at less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.
This means that, unlike other cannabis plant cultivars that are much higher in THC, truly agricultural hemp products should not lead to psychoactive effects. Instead, they can be taken to promote a more subtle, level-headed sense of calm.* And broad-spectrum hemp extract varieties are like full-spectrum, minus the THC altogether (so, you technically lose the full entourage of plant compounds).
In full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate hemp products, CBD is the protagonist of the hemp storyline, as its the phytocannabinoid found in concentrated amounts.
Hemp-derived CBD supplements usually come in oil tinctures or capsules (i.e., gelcaps/softgels). While both delivery formats are useful, capsules allow for more precise dosing, greater convenience (take anywhere, no liquid dropper required), and don’t have the grassy flavor and mouthfeel of hemp oil tinctures that some find off-putting. They can also include other botanical ingredients that can further their relaxing benefits.*