EducationBreaking down CBD isolate 

Breaking down CBD isolate 

12 min read

Sam North

Breaking down CBD isolate 


In recent years we have seen a massive shift in how cannabis, and its contained compounds, are viewed not only here in the UK, but globally. Up until just a few short years ago, and for close to a century, this fascinating plant was demonised to the point of being illegal in most countries.

Thankfully, the tide of misinformation and propaganda surrounding medical cannabis and its compounds is receding, allowing more people than ever to get access to the many potential benefits it has to offer. One of the most popular of these cannabis compounds for therapeutic application is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is legal for 'over the counter' sale in the UK, which is a great thing. However, coming with this shift in attitudes and laws has been a veritable smorgasbord of products containing CBD.

It's no wonder that the whole concept behind CBD can be confusing to many, and so in today's write-up, we are going to break down one of the most popular types of CBD products, CBD isolate. We will look at the potential benefits, side effects, and all the different forms of administration, as well as everything else there is to understand before taking the plunge.

What is CBD?

CBD is one of the over 110 cannabinoids that have, so far, been isolated from cannabis and hemp cultivars. Unlike its slightly more famous kin, THC, CBD is completely non-intoxicating. This makes CBD products a popular choice for those seeking a therapeutic effect with no mind-altering effects.

Cannabinoids, CBD included, interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) (along with other systems in the human body) to produce various effects. The ECS is responsible for many of the body's homeostatic functions, and when cannabinoids like CBD are administered, they have the ability to modulate the functions that the ECS controls.

CBD has been shown to interact with 5-HT1A receptor which boost serotonin production, and to also reduce the breakdown of our own endogenous cannabinoids which, in turn, increases their concentrations in the body. This has a whole range of potential effects, which we will explore later.

What is CBD Isolate?

CBD isolate, as the name suggest, is a product that contains only CBD and no other compounds or cannabinoids produced by the cannabis sativa L. genus. There are three main subcategories of CBD products, full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and isolates. To fully understand the differences, it is best to look at each one individually.

  • Full-spectrum CBD products contain the entire chemical profile of the source plant, including CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids. Some of these other compounds have therapeutic value in their own right, and have been shown to work synergistically with the CBD to produce a stronger effect than CBD alone. Here in the UK, full-spectrum CBD options must contain less than 0.2% THC to be legally sold without a prescription.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD products have all of the THC, but still retain the entirety of the other cannabinoid compounds and terpene profiles. Broad-spectrum products are a good choice for those wanting to take advantage of the entourage effect, but would like to avoid any trace amounts of THC.
  • CBD isolate products contain only pure, isolated CBD in its crystalline form. This means that there are no other cannabinoids or terpenes present. This is a great option for those who want to avoid any trace amounts of THC, or those who are looking to ensure precise control of their CBD dosages.

      How is CBD isolate made?

      Here in the UK, the overwhelming majority of CBD isolate is produced from hemp. This is due to hemp containing only trace levels of THC. While CBD isolate can be extracted from any cannabis or hemp plant, the laws governing the production of CBD porducts here in the UK only allow for hemp-based CBD isolate.

      CBD isolate is produced through an extracting process, whereby the cannabinoids are extracted from the source material and then further refined until only pure CBD remains in crystalline form. Supercritical CO2 extraction is the method of choice for many prominent brands, as it allows for a clean extraction with no toxic solvents.

      What are the potential benefits of CBD isolate?

      CBD isolate has been linked to various potential therapeutic effects, stemming from its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. Some of these potential benefits include:

      It has been linked to

      • Pain relief
      • Anti-inflammation
      • Anxiety relief
      • Improved sleep quality

      Let's dig into the currently available medical research and see what it has to say…

      CBD for pain relief

      Administering CBD for the relief of both chronic and acute pain is one of the more heavily researched topics in the world of medical cannabis One study, titled “A Balanced Approach for Cannabidiol Use in Chronic Pain” found that

      “Preliminary mechanistic studies suggest that CBD may increase the bioavailability of endogenous mediators of pain and exogenous analgesics”

      This leads back to the previous discussion on CBDs ability to reduce the enzymatic break-down of our endogenous cannabinoids, showing us that CBD has potential to boost the effects of our ECS.

      Topical CBD has been shown to reduce pain, and this may be due to the fact that it can effect the TRPV1 signalling pathway.

      CBD for anti-inflammation

      CBD has been proven to have a hugely positive effect on rates of inflammation. Although inflammation is a vital component of the body’s immune response, chronic inflammation is linked to a variety of conditions and diseases.

      “Cannabidiol (CBD): a killer for inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts”, a study published in The National Library Of Medicine, found that CBD increases intracellular calcium levels and reduces cell viability in the production of rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RASF).

      Another paper looked into the potential that cannabidiol holds in reducing intestinal inflammation. The authors concluded that

      “CBD's ability to control reactive gliosis in the CNS makes it an interesting compound. It reduces intestinal inflammation by controlling the autoimmune axis”

      The final study we will look at, “Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol”, found that

      “CBD reduces the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, inhibits T cell proliferation, induces T cell apoptosis and reduces migration and adhesion of immune cells”

      Lots of big words, but to put it slightly more simply, CBD has the potential to reduce inflammation through a range of mechanisms.

      CBD for anxiety relief

      We previously touched on how CBD interacts with the 5-HT1A receptor to boost serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin plays a big role in regulating our moods, and as such it is no surprise that CBD has been extensively studied for its potential to reduce anxiety.

      One study looked at the effects of a single dose of both 300 mg and 600 mg of CBD on public speaking induced social anxiety. The results were impressive, with the authors concluding that

      “CBD may have beneficial effects on anxiety-related remote behaviour in humans, suggesting a possible therapeutic effect of CBD on anxiety disorders”

      These findings were echoed by another study, and backed up once again by this 2019 clinical research trial. It found that in the first month, nearly 80% of participants experienced a decrease in anxiety scores, which persisted throughout the entire study period.

      CBD for improved sleep quality

      Finally, let's look into the potential sleep benefits of CBD. More in-depth research is needed before conclusions can be made, but there is considerable anecdotal evidence of people finding it helps them drift off.

      This is, at least to a certain extent, explained by the fact that CBD is linked to increased levels of serotonin and reduced inflammation. This may result in improved sleep quality, and could even be used to treat insomnia.

      One paper we can look at is “Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series”, in which sleep scores showed improvement in 48 patients (66.7%) within the first month, although this number exhibited fluctuations over time.

      How to take CBD isolate

      CBD isolate products offer versatile administration options, which can be easily tailored to individual preferences and medical advice.

      One of the most popular ways to take CBD isolate is by vaping it. This is the fastest way to get cannabinoids into your system, as they go straight from the lungs and enter the bloodstream almost immediately.

      It can also be taken sublingually (under the tongue), which offers a rapid onset of effects and higher bioavailability than oral ingestion.

      If you'd rather not vape or sublingually administer your CBD isolate, you can always add it to food and beverages such as smoothies, coffee, cookies etc. This is the least efficient method of delivery in terms of speed and bioavailability, but offers some benefits in terms of convenience.

      It is also available in topical creams and balms, which have been found to be especially effective for localised pain and inflammation.

      Dosage recommendations

      It is almost impossible to offer any blanket dosage suggestions. Everyone reacts to CBD differently due to a variety of factors such as age, sex, and general health, and that's not even taking into account the enormous range of medical conditions that CBD can be used to treat.

      When it comes to medical cannabis, we always recommend speaking with a doctor or healthcare professional before starting (or making any changes to) a new treatment plan. They will be able to offer tailored advice based on your individual needs and medical history.

      If you are thinking of taking CBD isolate products without the supervision of a medical professional, then start with the lowest dose possible and gradually work up to achieve your desired effects.

      The wrap up

      Hopefully, you now have a much clearer picture of CBD isolate products and the potential therapeutic effects that they may have.

      It is important to note, however, that everyone reacts differently. Some people may find relief from their symptoms from low doses of CBD isolate taken over a short period of time, while others may require larger doses over an extended duration to achieve the same results.

      Regardless of your needs, it is always best to speak with your doctor before starting any new therapeutic regime. That way, you can be sure that you are taking the right amount of CBD for your individual needs.

      It is also essential to note that CBD should never be viewed as some sort of miracle 'cure all'. There is still a lot to learn when it comes to understanding the full therapeutic potential of this amazing natural compound, and research is continuing. CBD is a complementary therapy, and should always be applied in addition to any existing treatments and lifestyle changes your doctor may recommend.

      Releaf understands the importance of medical cannabis in treating various medical conditions. With our tailored monthly packages, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection, you can access the treatment you need without worrying about the stigma.

      It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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      Sam North, a seasoned writer with over five years' experience and expertise in medicinal cannabis, brings clarity to complex concepts, focusing on education and informed use.

      Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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