I recently had a patient come to me and say she purchased some CBD isolate of the internet, actually it was off some person on instagram – oh the late night scrolling gets us everytime. She wanted to know why it wasn’t working like the stuff she was using before despite being a higher dose.

Here is the issue with isolate… it contains about 99% cannabidiol and .1% water. Zero THC. There goes that entourage effect out the window. We like to refer to them as single molecule cannabinoid products, and unless you are having your medical cannabis custom compounded then they are a waste of time. You would be getting zero of the much needed CBD-A, CBG, THC, THC-A, CBN and so on. Depending on the quality of the full spectrum CBD you are getting you should have a complete profile – for the most part.

You see CBD isolates have this teeny, tiny therapeutic window. I mean super narrow….as in hit or miss and basically way less effective. Some people love them, but many are also cannabis users in general so might also be smoking some bud and getting that (you guessed it) entourage effect passed along.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for isolates, I’m seeing it in the topical world and of course we use it for epilepsy as well. We are seeing more and more evidence that whole plant extracts have little to no effect on prescribed pharmaceutical medications, which isn’t the case with isolates. There are far more interactions with isolated formats. Unless of course you are mega-dosing for a clinical level of treatment (let’s use cancer as a reference for this one). Even moderate to low doses of CBD isolate (25mg) have been shown to interact with prescription meds, they do this by inhibiting the CYP450 enzyme system which has to do with our liver and how we process medications. It would appear that isolate has this issue where full spectrul does not. For some cases it may be beneficial, in the example of opiods its a plus however if you have drugs that state not to consume grapefruit with them and you are mixing in your CBD isolate you may want to stop and go talk to a medical professional first to avoid interactions. You can learn more about this over at projectcbd.org (they have a great list of interactions as a reference).

So what do you do with the garbage *cough* isolate you bought? Well certain terpenes can be added back into it to help create the entourage effect, you still miss out on the other compounds though. If you want to know more about those terpenes head on over to Slippery Buddha Inc – they have great articles explaining the do’s and don’ts as well as a pretty awesome selection of high quality plant terpenes.