CBD is one of the many active compounds called cannabinoids found in hemp (or medical marijuana). Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it does not have psychoactive effects and is less likely to cause the ‘high’ feeling. CBD oil has gained popularity, especially after the 2018 farm bill legalizing CBD and hemp production was  passed at federal levels. This law stated that the total THC concentration was not more than 0.3%. As a result, most states have partially or wholly legalized CBD oil, and you can find the oil in gas stations, health, and food stores in different states. There are three forms of CBD oil; full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate-based. CBD isolates contain only CBD, and consumers wonder if it can cause a high effect.

Understanding CBD Oil

CBD oil has become part of the mainstream products found in online and physical stores. Other CBD products include tinctures, vapes, capsules, and gummies. Although there is insufficient scientific evidence to claim that CBD oil can manage any condition, people use this cannabinoid for pain, anxiety, stress, and inflammation. However, the FDA has not approved CBD oil for these claimed benefits.

Types of CBD Oil

Most CBD brands deal in the following types of CBD oil;


Full-range CBD oil contains multiple cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN, CBT, and CBG. It also includes the psychoactive THC linked to the ‘high’ effect. In addition, full-spectrum CBD oil has terpenes and flavonoids, other compounds in the cannabis plant claimed to be beneficial.


Also called broad-range CBD oil, broad-spectrum CBD oil has all compounds in full-spectrum CBD oil, including terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids. However, it lacks the psychoactive THC. While the benefits of broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD oils are the same, the former is not linked to the ‘high’ effect.

Isolate Oil

 Isolate-based CBD oil has CBD as the only compound. This oil lacks THC, terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabis compounds.

What Causes the ‘high’ Effect Associated with Some Forms of CBD Oil?

Cannabis plants (both hemp and marijuana) have multiple compounds, including CBD and THC. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is linked to the high effect. According to Di Marzo & Piscitelli, F. (2015), THC interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body. The ECS has a network of cannabinoids, enzymes, and receptors that interact with phytocannabinoids such as THC and CBD to exert the many associated effects. This study indicates that THC binds to the ECS receptors CB1 in the brain and may relieve pain, inflammation, and stress. Studies also claim that some ECS receptors are located in the liver, spleen, bones, and immune cells, where they interact with CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids to exert the claimed benefits. While THC and CBD oil are cannabinoids that bind to the various receptors in the body, THC is claimed to bind more strongly to these receptors, resulting in the ‘high’ and psychoactive effects linked to it.

Can CBD Oil Isolate Make You High?

THC is what makes marijuana and full-spectrum CBD oil have the ‘high’ effect. Most CBD isolates are 99.9% pure CBD and have no other cannabinoids except CBD. This means that there are no cannabinoids other than CBD, terpenes, and flavonoids in the oil, and the psychoactive THC is not present in the oil. Because of this,  CBD isolates should not make users high or exert any psychoactive effects on them.

Should You Take CBD Isolate Oils?

Much is unknown about CBD oil, including the isolates. Also, because CBD is not FDA regulated, there is the possibility of misinformation, especially in the product labels. Some brands may claim to sell CBD isolate oils, but the products might have traceable THC. Besides, while CBD oil is purported to help with conditions like sleep, stress, anxiety, and pain, there is insufficient scientific evidence backing these claims. Therefore, consumers should consult their doctor before using any CBD product. CBD isolate oils may not make you high, but you could take in contaminants, especially if you are buying your products from a brand not so reputable.


Isolate CBD oils are among the three types of CBD oil products found in the hemp space. Since CBD isolates should not have the psychoactive THC, they do not make users ‘high.’ However, there is the possibility of misinformation in the product labels since the FDA does not regulate CBD production. The isolates may contain small traces of THC and other impurities.

References Di Marzo, V., & Piscitelli, F. (2015). The Endocannabinoid System And Its Modulation By Phytocannabinoids. Neurotherapeutics, 12(4), 692-698.

Nutritionist, Cornell University, MS

I believe that nutrition science is a wonderful helper both for the preventive improvement of health and adjunctive therapy in treatment. My goal is to help people improve their health and well-being without torturing themselves with unnecessary dietary restrictions. I am a supporter of a healthy lifestyle – I play sports, cycle, and swim in the lake all year round. With my work, I have been featured in Vice, Country Living, Harrods magazine, Daily Telegraph, Grazia, Women's Health, and other media outlets.

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