CBD 101, CBD Research

What Is CBD?

woman with brown hair holding cannabis leaf in mouth


An increasing number of people are using CBD products to benefit their health. Far from only coming in the form of CBD oil, CBD is now sold in capsules, edibles, and even cosmetic products.

Yet, much confusion remains about CBD. What is it? How is it different from THC? Where does it come from? How is it used?

Here’s everything you need to know about the non-intoxicating cannabis compound.

What Are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are a class of natural compounds found in the cannabis plant. Although most of us are only familiar with CBD and THC, there are well over 100 different cannabinoids.

The reason why we don’t hear much about these other cannabinoids is that they’re present in small quantities. By comparison, CBD and THC account for most of the cannabinoid content of the plant.

Fun Fact: Cannabis is not the only source of cannabinoids; our bodies also produce them. As such, cannabinoids are typically divided into two main types: phytocannabinoids (derived from plants) and endocannabinoids (made by our bodies). Additionally, scientists can create synthetic cannabinoids in a lab.

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the most abundant cannabinoid in hemp: a variety of cannabis with low THC levels. Unlike its psychotropic cousin THC, CBD does not make you high. This means people can take CBD without having to deal with the intoxicating effects of cannabis.

On the other hand, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most abundant cannabinoid in regular varieties of cannabis (marijuana). Most of us have heard about THC because it’s the compound responsible for the intoxicating marijuana high. THC is illegal in most parts of the world.

What’s the Difference Between CBD and THC?

CBD and THC have the same molecular structure, but the way the atoms are arranged is different. As a result, their effects are not the same.

As noted above, the key difference between CBD and THC is that CBD does not cause any intoxicating effects. However, they also differ in other ways, such as their side effects, legal status, and the way they’re used.

Side Effects of CBD vs THC

The possible side effects of THC include euphoria, impaired memory and reaction time, anxiety, paranoia, increased heart rate, red eyes, dry mouth, sleepiness, and dizziness.

Meanwhile, CBD can cause diarrhea, hypotension, dry mouth, lightheadedness, and sleepiness.

However, these CBD side effects were noted in studies using high dosages (300 mg and higher).

The Legality of CBD vs THC

In the United States, marijuana and THC are illegal at the federal level. However, many states allow for their medical use, and a select few states allow both recreational and medical use of THC and marijuana.

On the other hand, CBD products derived from hemp, a variety of cannabis with high CBD and minimal (0.3% or less) THC levels, were made federally legal by the 2018 Farm Bill.

Much like with marijuana, however, individual states have their own laws for regulating the cultivation and sale of hemp. In the vast majority of states, hemp and hemp-derived CBD products are legal.

Uses of CBD and THC

CBD products are mainly used to support overall health and wellness. They’re most commonly sold in the form of CBD oil. In contrast, THC products are primarily used for their recreational and medical effects.

How Is CBD Taken?

Cannabidiol can be taken in several ways. The most popular of these is sublingual, where a few drops of CBD oil are placed under the tongue to let the CBD absorb directly into the blood vessels.

CBD can also be ingested in the form of capsules or gummies and other edibles, inhaled by vaping CBD e-liquid, and applied topically to the skin.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is the most popular type of CBD product. It’s made by extracting the stalks, stems, leaves, and flowers of the hemp plant. Keep in mind that CBD oil is sometimes simply called hemp oil. It should not be confused with hemp seed oil (also often called hemp oil), which is pressed from hemp seeds and doesn’t contain CBD or other cannabinoids.

CBD oil can be made with one of three types of hemp extract: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all of the natural constituents of hemp, such as cannabinoids (including <0.3% THC), terpenes, flavonoids, minerals, and fatty acids. These compounds work together in a synergy called the “entourage effect”. Broad-spectrum CBD oil is the same as full-spectrum but contains zero THC. Finally, CBD oil can also be made with CBD isolate. This is a purified version of hemp extract that contains >99% pure CBD and nothing else.

Other CBD Products

CBD can also be sold in many other forms, including capsules, gummies, creams and other cosmetic preparations, vape e-liquids, and even infused beverages. Much like CBD oil, these products can be made with CBD isolate, full-spectrum, or broad-spectrum CBD extract.

Cannabidiol: A Beneficial Natural Compound

Cannabidiol is a natural hemp compound used for overall health and wellness.

Most people take CBD in the form of oil but it can also be ingested, inhaled, and applied topically. CBD products can be made with purified CBD or extracts containing a wide range of compounds naturally present in hemp.

We hope this article sheds some light on CBD and how you can use it for wellness. If you want more information, check out our comprehensive CBD guide.