What is CBD? Everything you need to know
Cannabidiol – aka CBD – has become wildly popular in recent years. Though CBD has jumped into the mainstream, many people are still unsure of what it is exactly.
Sure, we’ve all heard that CBD is some sort of powerhouse compound that can help with everything from decreasing stress and anxiety, to stopping severe epileptic seizures. But at the end of the day, a lot of people just don’t know that much about CBD.
As with anything new, it takes time and research to fully understand what CBD is and why it’s good for you. Add to that an overwhelming amount of articles, medical journals, industry jargon and a weird grey area of the law, and you can see why some are hesitant to dive into the topic.
But don’t worry!
We’ve already done all the heavy lifting for you. After combing through the information that’s out there and separating the reputable from the not so reputable, we have compiled an extensive overview on CBD and everything you need to know about it. Here’s the topics we’ll be covering:
- What CBD is and How it works
- The Health Benefits of CBD
- The Differences Between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil
- The Legality of CBD
- How to take CBD
Feel free to use the small chat feature in the bottom right of our site to ask us any additional questions you may have.
Let’s dive in.
What is CBD?
What does CBD stand for?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the 400+ compounds produced from the cannabis plant. CBD is among a special class of these compounds called cannabinoids, which give cannabis its medical and recreational properties.
So, what’s a cannabinoid?
A cannabinoid is a compound that acts on receptors in your body to regulate important bodily functions. The resulting effects of this vary, ranging from lowering stress and helping you get a better night’s sleep, to aiding in dementia treatment and fighting off cancer.
These compounds can be found both naturally occurring in your body, and in many different plants.
To get an idea of how these compounds work, let’s take a look at the system they interact with–the endocannabinoid system.
Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is a network of receptors throughout your body with the core purpose of keeping the other systems in your body running smoothly. This network of receptors operates by interacting with cannabinoids like CBD.
When a cannabinoid is introduced to the body, it finds a receptor and binds to it. This triggers a change in cell function. As we mentioned the effects of this binding can vary, but always lead to the same goal: maintaining homeostasis, your body’s optimal state.
Dustin Sulak DO, says that the endocannabinoid system is, “perhaps the most important physiological system involved in establishing and maintaining human health.”
What makes CBD Special
One of the main reasons why CBD has become so popular is that it doesn’t get you “high”. Unlike its cousin THC, CBD is labeled “non-psychoactive”. This is because CBD does not bind to the receptors in your brain that cause the high commonly associated with THC.
Because CBD does not initiate this same reaction, users can reap the multitude of health benefits the compounds allows for without impairing your current mental state.
Not only does CBD have its own reaction with receptors, but it is also an allosteric modulator. This is a fancy way of saying it can change how a receptor transmits a signal by changing the shape of the receptor itself.
So what does this mean for you?
Well, an Australian scientist released a report showing that CBD reduces anxiety by changing the shape of the GABA-A receptor to allow it to have a greater binding affinity to the body’s main inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA, which amplifies the neurotransmitters calming effect.
Well, an Australian scientist released a report showing that CBD can reduce anxiety using this exact method. When taken, CBD modifies the GABA-A receptor (one of the many in your body) to enhance its ability to bind with GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter).
To put it simply, your body is then better equipped to use the chemicals already present in your brain that are responsible for calming your mind.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to what makes CBD special. As research continues there will surely be more discoveries on how this compound works in your body to promote health and wellness.
Now that we know what CBD is and how it works, let’s compare it to another cannabinoid I’m sure you have heard of, THC.
CBD vs THC
THC and CBD are by far the most well-known compounds that come from the cannabis plant.
For the purposes of this article we’ll keep things simple.
Cannabidiol, aka CBD, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid with a wide array of health benefits. This newly popularized compound has the potential to change how we treat afflictions ranging from depression to cancer.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, aka THC, is a cannabinoid that produces the euphoric sensation you are used to hearing about when dealing with cannabis. It also offers many medicinal benefits.
If you’re really interested in this relationship, check out our article: What’s the difference between CBD and THC?
Health Benefits of CBD
Have you noticed that everywhere you look you see claims of CBD helping with this disease or that affliction? Could it really be possible that this compound, that is produced by a plant, can really help you with ailments ranging from minor anxiety to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s to cancer? Well, it turns out that these statements aren’t necessarily unwarranted.
There are thousands of research reports and articles from scientists and doctors proclaiming the benefits of cannabidiol with more being produced every day. You can check out this video that shows various doctors, ranging from general physicians to heart surgeons, and why they have high hopes for the future of CBD.
Below are a few of the most widely-applicable uses for CBD.
Stress and Anxiety
When you look around it seems like everyone is dealing with some sort of anxiety or stress in their life.
To combat this, large pharmaceutical companies have developed drugs to try to treat these moods. Their major options are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which come in the form of medication like Prozac and Zoloft, as well as tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax.
While there definitely are people who benefit from these medications, there are also those who say it either doesn’t work for them or they don’t want to deal with the side effects of the drugs (including some of their highly addictive properties).
For those who don’t want to deal with Big Pharma, there may be another way, and it’s CBD. A 2015 review states that CBD is a promising treatment for many forms of anxiety such as social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, OCD, and panic disorder, just to name a few.
So we already know that CBD can help make you less stressed and anxious throughout the day which in itself should help you get a better night sleep with a little quieter of a mind.
When taken a few hours before night time though, CBD has been shown to increase overall sleep amounts and help people who deal with insomnia.
Since CBD’s main purpose is to regulate homeostasis and considering how much of an importance sleep is to our everyday life, you can bet that CBD is going to try everything it can to help regulate sleep so we can get the best nights rest possible.
Pain and inflammation
Studies have found that CBD will suppress certain pain receptors in the body to change how cells function. Once altered, the start to have an anti-inflammatory and painkilling effect.
It was also found that you don’t build a tolerance to CBD. This means that you want to keep increasing your dose over time.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the ways CBD can positively impact your life. For the purposes of this post, I wanted to give you an overview of the most common uses.
The differences between hemp oil and CBD oil
CBD Oil, Hemp Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, what are we talking about here?
If you’ve tried to buy CBD before, I can guarantee this is where you’ve gotten confused.
Let’s start to clear things up for you.
What we call ‘CBD Oil’ can also be referred to as ‘Full-spectrum Hemp Oil’. This is a fancy (but important) way of saying that the CBD is extracted from the stalks of hemp plants in the form of an oil.
This is why some CBD products say “Hemp Oil”, and other products say “CBD Oil”. This is also where things start to get confusing.
You see, not all hemp oil contains CBD, and some “CBD Oil” products aren’t “full-spectrum” hemp oil products. Then there’s hemp seed oil, which sounds like hemp oil, but is completely different.
I know, not helping much with the confusion here. I’ll break each of these down into a bit more detail for you.
Different types of Hemp oil:
1) Hemp Seed Oil
Let me be very clear: Hemp seed oil does not contain CBD.
Hemp seed oil is made by cold-pressing hemp seeds to, quite literally, squeeze out the oil from the seeds. This oil has a lot of positive aspects, like being rich in Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Though while Hemp seed oil can be great for your health, it does not contain any CBD at all. I’ve bolded this multiple times here because a lot of companies are selling hemp seed oil to trick people just like you into buying very cheap oil at very high prices.
As it turns out, every ‘Hemp Oil’ supplement for sale on Amazon only contains hemp seed oil, and has no CBD content. What’s sad is that these companies are putting ‘250mg’ or ‘500mg’ on their tinctures to deceive people into thinking they’re talking about CBD.
How do I know this? It’s against Amazon’s TOS to sell products containing CBD.
2) Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil
Real Hemp oil is extracted from the stalks of the hemp plant and is rich in CBD while containing less than .3 percent THC. This is sometimes referred to as ‘full-spectrum hemp oil’ or simply ‘Hemp Oil’ and I feel I have to say it again, is very different from hemp seed oil.
So how do you know you’re buying real hemp oil that contains CBD? Here are a couple things you can do:
Check their lab results. Any company worth their salt should have their product tested by a 3rd party lab to verify the quality. (Here’s ours )
Look at their label. If their label doesn’t specifically mention the CBD content of the product, then it doesn’t contain CBD.
Ask! If a company beats around the bush and doesn’t answer your questions specifically, chances are they’re hiding something.
Using the scammers on Amazon as an example, if you search for CBD Oil on Amazon you will see no products that mention CBD anywhere on their labels or on their product listing.
3) CBD Oil
While we market our product as ‘CBD Oil’ to be clear about the CBD content, we do need to clarify a few things.
At the core of our CBD Oil is full-spectrum hemp oil. You know, the stuff that is extracted from hemp stalks with a high concentration of CBD?
Well, that oil is difficult to work with and can’t be easily ingested alone. To solve for this, we need to combine the full-spectrum hemp oil with another oil to act as a carrier for the sticky, full-spectrum Hemp Oil.
This is why you’ll see CBD Oil products containing other ingredients than just full-spectrum hemp oil.
Check out our ingredients as an example:
The other oils — hemp seed oil and grapeseed oil are “carriers” for the Full-spectrum Hemp Oil that is rich in CBD.
Note: see how our product tells you the exact CBD content and lists full-spectrum hemp oil as an ingredient? This is what you need to see on other CBD products you buy.
What I’m getting at here is that CBD Oil is normally reserved for talking about the finished product of combining CBD with other carrier oils.
How full-spectrum hemp oil is extracted
As mentioned, the full-spectrum hemp oil is extracted from hemp stalks and is rich in CBD. You may not care much about the science of how this is done, but you should know that it can have a major impact on the quality of the finished product.
Let’s quickly go over a few of the common CBD extraction methods.
1) Liquid Solvents
Probably the most effective, and most widely used extraction method is using liquid solvents. These are things like butane, isopropyl alcohol, hexane, or ethanol. These solvents work to strip away all of the Hemp’s plant matter into a liquid form. This liquid is then heated, causing it to evaporate away everything but the most important compounds (like CBD) in the form of an oil.
Though this method is effective and efficient, it should be approached cautiously. Specifically, when using hexane or butane, there is a chance of these substances ‘sticking around’ in the oil and as you can imagine this can be really unhealthy to consume.
This is why it’s important to make sure your CBD is manufactured in a high-quality, professional facility and not one of your friend’s kitchen science projects.
2) CO2 Extraction
Using Carbon Dioxide to manufacture CBD is becoming an increasingly popular method. Without getting into the details, CO2 extraction uses some very complex and high-end machinery to strip the essential compounds from hemp plants into an oil.
The CO2 extraction process is a lot more expensive (because of the machinery required) and hasn’t been shown to be any better than using solvents.
Olive Oil Extraction
Extracting CBD with olive oil is more of a D.I.Y approach to extracting CBD and isn’t used by any respected manufacturers. Not only does it not produce high-quality CBD, but it’s also a lot less efficient than the other methods we’ve discussed.
Understanding CBD Isolate vs Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil
To make things a bit more confusing, there are two ways in which people create CBD products. First, is what we’ve been talking about so far–extracting CBD from hemp stalks in the form of an oil. This is referred to as Full-Spectrum Hemp oil or Full-Spectrum CBD.
The other way is to further reduce the CBD oil into CBD isolate. Without getting too deep into the details, the Full-Spectrum hemp oil is run through a purification process that transforms it into a fine white powder containing nothing but CBD. This is referred to as CBD isolate.
Why would anyone want to do this?
Well, it turns out that making edible CBD products and CBD vaporizers is almost impossible using full-spectrum oil. That’s why companies will opt to, for example, make brownie mix and then sprinkle in some of the CBD isolate to make it ‘CBD-infused’.
What they don’t tell you is that CBD isolate has been found to be a lot less effective than Full-Spectrum CBD.
Like any other plant, the compounds found in hemp (including CBD) interact when digested to do things the isolated compounds could not. The “entourage effect’ as it’s called, is a concept coined by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The research showed that CBD was a lot more effective when combined with other compounds of the cannabis plant than in isolated form when tested on mice.
On top of that, CBD isolate is processed by your body a lot faster than full-spectrum hemp oil. Because of this, CBD gummy bears, CBD vapes, and other gimmicky products made with CBD isolate have instantaneous effects but don’t last throughout the day.
Legality of CBD
The legality of CBD has been a point of contention in the U.S for a long time. Without getting too deep into the weeds, I want to give you only the information you need.
If you do a google search for the legality of CBD you’ll quickly come across a bunch of articles with a major warning. Titles like “CBD Is not legal in all 50 states,” “CBD is still illegal”, and other VERY misleading titles.
The story all of these media outlets decided to run with was that of a man in Indiana who was arrested for having CBD oil. Although, after the court reviewed the case and decided that CBD was, in fact, legal in their state, they dropped the case. When you think about it, there’s really not much of a story here. Man gets wrongly arrested, goes to court, and has the case dismissed because he was in-fact wrongly arrested.
Other sites like the Brooking’s Institute claim there is a legal grey area in which CBD operates. This also couldn’t be further from the truth. All it takes is 10 minutes of research to find that the 2004 Hemp Industries Association (HIA) vs DEA case found that the mere presence of CBD in a product does not make it illegal.
Why CBD is sometimes claimed to be ‘illegal’.
It turns out that there isn’t much contention for the use of CBD. The issue is all in the plants. Mainly Cannabis Sativa and Industrial Hemp. You see, because industrial hemp (hemp for short) is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant (also known as marijuana) lawmakers try and lump the two together as being the same plant.
The issue is that Cannabis sativa is a controlled substance and is illegal to manufacture and sell in most U.S states because of its high concentration of THC(Tetrahydrocannabinol). On the other hand, industrial hemp contains 0 – .03 %THC rendering its psychoactive effects about as potent as eating a poppy seed.
That’s why CBD derived from Cannabis is illegal, whereas CBD derived from Industrial-hemp is not. It’s not actually the CBD that’s illegal funny enough, it’s the plant you’re using to make the CBD that’s illegal.
If you refer back to the legal case between the DEA and HIA, hemp is no longer considered to be illegal.
So what does this mean for you?
What this means is that right now, CBD is legal. Under the current laws in the U.S, you can buy CBD oil derived from hemp in all 50 states. Now, is there a chance that things can change and CBD can become illegal? Of course.
But in reality, more people are pushing laws around hemp and CBD forward rather than turning back the clock. There is currently legislation pending in the 115th Congress called “Hemp Farming Act of 2018” which has a strong chance of being signed into law this year. This piece of legislation will further legalize the farming of industrial hemp and secure CBD's long term future as a legal supplement.
How to take CBD
Every day a new way to take CBD is invented. Want it in your water? In gummy bears? In brownies?!?
Here’s the thing, most of these products are gimmicks, and won’t have you seeing any lasting benefits. In this section, I’ll explain a few of the most popular products and what use they truly have, if any.
Vaping is everywhere. It feels like you can’t walk more than 10 feet without seeing someone puffing on a reusable, disposable, or walk-man sized vape.
To capitalize on this popularity, some ambitious inventors have found a way to infuse vape liquids with CBD.
The thing is, the nature of these products make them a mediocre way to consume CBD if you’re looking for most of the benefits.
Well, when you inhale something it enters your bloodstream much faster than when you digest it. This means that the CBD enters your bloodstream quickly, which you may think is a good thing.
Though, the CBD-vapes are also made with CBD Isolate–I mean you can’t inhale oil! If you’ve read the prior section on the difference between full-spectrum and CBD isolate, you will know that CBD isolate has been proven to be less effective.
So you’re getting a quick hit of CBD that will quickly taper off, requiring you to continuously puff on the vape throughout the day to maintain any level of active CBD in your body.
This isn’t to say there aren’t very specific cases when they can provide people with the instantaneous relief they need. If you’re about to face a situation that you know will make you extremely anxious (say, a social situation), or if you have a very hard time quieting your mind and falling asleep, they may be perfect for you.
CBD edibles come in all shapes and sizes. Whether that’s brownies, gummies, candy, you name it, someone is making it. These edibles can be an effective way to ingest a dose of CBD if you are not a fan of using pills or oil tinctures.
What you want to be sure of, before investing in any of these delicious treats, is that they are made with full-spectrum CBD oil. It bears repeating again, but products made with CBD isolate are going to be less effective than full-spectrum CBD products.
And I don’t know about you, but eating a brownie every day (daily use is how to get the most benefits of CBD) doesn’t sound like something I’m ready to sign up for!
The most common, and effective way to take CBD is by ingesting hemp oil sublingually. This means using a dropper to place the oil under your tongue for 60-90 seconds before swallowing.
Although there is not an instantaneous effect as you may have with vaping, the CBD remains in your body longer and allows its effects to last throughout the day.
There are different names for this, as we’ve discussed before, like CBD Oil, Hemp Oil, and Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil, but they all mean the same thing–oil derived from the hemp plant that is rich in CBD.
How to understand CBD dosages
One of the hardest questions to find an answer to online is, how much CBD is right for you? The reason why most companies avoid answering this question is that, well, it depends.
It depends on:
- Your body weight
- The condition you’re trying to address (Anxiety, sleep, pain, etc)
- How severe the condition is
And much more. Then, to add to the confusion, each CBD oil product has varying levels of CBD in it.
In order to simplify things a bit, I’m going to give you an easy way to think about dosing CBD without going too deep into the details.
How much CBD you should be taking
First things first, let’s talk about how much active CBD you should be taking on a daily basis. We recommend starting off with .5 – 1MG for every 10 pounds of body weight.
That means if you’re 150 pounds, you could benefit from 7.5 – 15 MG per day.
If you are 150 pounds, start out with 7.5MG per day for 1-2 weeks before moving up to 15MG per day. That way you can get a better idea of the effective dosing range for YOU. In terms of our 250MG CBD Oil, this would mean taking 1 serving per day to start, before moving up to 2 servings per day.
I can’t stress this enough–what works for someone else will not work for you. That’s why it’s best to start small and work your way up. Just because your friend is taking 50MG a day (and spending a lot of money to do so) does not mean that you need to!
Figuring out how much CBD is in your dropper
Now let’s figure out how to measure the amount of CBD you’re getting with each dropper full of oil.
Most tinctures you find will be 30ml (1 FL Oz) in size, with the dropper holding about 1ml. This gives you 30 ‘dropper-fulls’ of oil in each bottle.
Now, find your bottle of CBD oil and see how many Milligrams of active CBD it contains. If you’re using our 250MG product, it has well… 250MG.
With this information, all we need to do is some simple math:
CBD Per Serving = 250MG(of CBD) / 30(servings)
CBD per serving = 8.33MG
In the end, there are millions of people who can benefit from supplementing their diet with CBD. If you think you can too, we urge you to take the information in this guide and use it to find a reliable, high-quality CBD brand.
And of course, we’d love to be that brand for you.
If you want to give CBD a try, check out our CBD trial, which allows you to try CBD for a week.