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What is CBD?

What Is CBD? What Does It Do and How Can It Benefit You?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most recent cannabis-derived products to reach sky-high popularity in the United States. Some claim that it has unforeseen health benefits. Others believe it is nothing more than a placebo.

So, who is right? What is CBD? Can CBD get you high? Is CBD even legal?

Today, we will answer all these questions and many more in this ultimate guide to CBD and its potential impact on health.

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the over 100 compounds found in the cannabis Sativa plant. Usually, it gets a bad reputation because it comes from the same plant as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient that produces the typical “marijuana high.”

Contrary to popular misconception, CBD may not have any psychoactive properties. Some clinical studies consider it to have a relaxation effect, which is why CBD is present in many oils, edibles, and other increasingly popular products.

Cannabis sativa is an herbaceous flowering plant indigenous to Eastern Asia. Also known as hemp, the plant has received an official classification in the 18th-century. Nevertheless, there are signs that people have been using it ever since 8,000 BC for medical, aromatic, or ritual purposes.

Is CBD a Drug?

Since its introduction, cannabidiol has been studied as a new drug. However, it is not a hard or addictive drug. In fact, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) approves cosmetic products containing CBD, as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC.

It’s worth noting that cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC are regular hemp. In this case, the CBD would come from a plant that has too little THC to produce psychoactive effects.

So, CBD won’t get me high?

It is unlikely to get a psychoactive reaction when taking CBD in any form. This compound should not produce feelings of euphoria, cravings, or being under sedation. However, you may enjoy a subtle effect of relaxation.

An exception exists where people follow a placebo sentiment after they unintentionally mistake CBD for THC. Still, even in extreme cases, cannabidiol should not leave you feeling intoxicated, high, or stoned.

Lastly, CBD may have different effects on different people. Therefore, you should always use it with care and precaution, especially when taking it for the first time.

Is CBD legal?

The THC component of Cannabis sativa has been subject to legal restrictions across the world for the past century. Today, its legalization is seen as favorable by many developed states. However, CBD has been and remains a legal herbal compound with a wide range of use cases.

In the United States, the Farm Bill has legalized hemp in 2018. However, not every ingredient deriving from hemp is legal too. That's why the FDA does not approve of the use of CBD in foods in dietary supplements. However, CBD is approved for use in cosmetic products.

While hemp has become legal in the US, the products derived from it have not been legalized yet. In fact, they are in some sort of grey legal territory that enables manufacturers to sell their CBD-based products.

In conclusion, CBD-based cosmetics, like CBD oils, are somewhat legal to sell and use as long as the cannabidiol compound derives from hemp with less than 0.3% THC.

Is CBD safe?

CBD should be an overall quite safe substance. However, it may not be entirely risk-free. It is safe to use may depend on interactions with other medication, and effects may differ from one person to another.

Additionally, CBD-based products are the result of a still unregulated environment. Therefore, CBD oils or cosmetics may vary widely in effects from one manufacturer to another.

The FDA warns about some products labeled as containing CBD, which fails to contain the levels of cannabidiol they claim when tested.

Your best choice when using a CBD-based product is to research the manufacturer and try to find out as much as possible about the product beforehand.

How does CBD work?

In our brains, we have something called cannabinoid receptors, also known as CB1 and CB2. They are part of the endocannabinoid system, which takes part in numerous physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.

According to clinical studies, consuming cannabis-derived products activates the cannabinoid receptors, which create a broad range of effects. Furthermore, CBD can also interact with other brain receptors leading to other mild events.

Let’s break these effects down and see how CBD works in your body!

CBD and CB1

CBD and the first cannabinoid receptors, CB1, do not interact that much. In fact, CBD only plays a major role in reducing the effect that THC has when activating CB1. However, since you consume THC-free hemp-derived products, CBD doesn’t have much to do when it reaches your endocannabinoid system.

CBD does find something to do, nevertheless. So, it interacts with an enzyme called FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase). This enzyme occurs naturally and has the job of destroying anandamide, a natural molecule that interacts with CB1 receptors as THC does.

As of 2021, there are contrasting studies on how much CBD influences FAAH. So, scientists are yet to discover its exact impact on CB1.

CBD and CB2

CBD also reaches the second cannabinoid receptor, CBD2, but even less impacting than on CB1 receptors. One of the potential benefits of CBD could be the reduction of rewarding effects for cocaine users. However, studies are inconclusive and the debate remains open on this matter.

CBD and Vanilloid Receptors

In the complex geography of our brains, the vanilloid receptors, or TRPV channels, have the role to intercept cannabinoid substances. Some researchers believe that they may be responsible for the soothing effects that CBD may produce. Among the effects that CBD may produce when interacting with vanilloid receptors is potential anti-seizure protection.

CBD and Serotonin Receptors

Many believe that consuming cannabis-derived products has an impact on our serotonin levels. It is the case of this clinical study revealing that CBD may interact with a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1a.

Serotonin is also known as the “happiness hormone” and it is responsible for balancing our mood and well-being feelings.

According to the study above, consuming CBD products may have a therapeutic effect on some people dealing with restlessness. It is worth noting that research of CBD and other cannabis compounds is still limited and, therefore, in some instances, it may be inconclusive.


We already established the unlikelihood of CBD producing psychoactive effects. However, it is still a cannabis Sativa compound, and just like THC, it might be intoxicating for some users.

The primary difference between CBD and THC is that CBD does not get you high regardless of how much you consume.

The potential effects of both CBD and THC are inconclusive. For instance, THC may help reduce nausea and spasticity. This psychoactive compound may also support a euphoric state and promote anti-oxidant protection.

On the other hand, CBD might reduce muscle discomfort and help increase mental clarity. Additionally, it may have a positive effect on inflammations and restlessness.


When buying certain products, you may find the ingredient CBDA present on the label. While many confuse CBDA with CBD, they are two different compounds.

So, what is the difference between CBD and CBDA?

CBDA is an acidic molecule that may transform into CBD when heated during smoking or vaping. However, it is not CBD to start with, and products containing it may not have the same effect as when you consume CBD.

All the cannabis-derived compounds, including CBD, CBDA, and THC, may interact with cannabinoid receptors in your brain only when going through a process called decarboxylation. It means that they produce effects only when exposed to heat. That’s why eating cannabis is unlikely to have any noticeable effects.

When buying cannabis oil or tinctures, you may find CBD or CBDA on the ingredients label. It's worth noting that these components have been decarboxylated during preparation. Therefore, the cosmetics containing them may have some effect on some consumers.


As we mentioned at the beginning of this guide to CBD, the Cannabis Sativa plant is home to over 100 compounds. One of them is CBG, or cannabigerol, which consumers sometimes mistake for CBD.

Nevertheless, CBG is the subject of very little clinical research compared to CBD. While some believe that it may help reduce hypertension. So far, the studies are inconclusive, also because human trials on CBG do not exist.

You may use CBG products at your own risk. On the other hand, CBD is the subject of in-depth research literature. Therefore, it should represent a potentially safer alternative to CBG-based products.

What is CBD used for?

From the get-go, we should specify that the research on CBD, at this time, is still deficient. Some studies have discovered promising effects from using products containing CBD. However, it is still unclear whether this compound is entirely safe for human use.

Some of the conditions that CBD may help with include:

  • Restlessness
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Addiction
  • Mental blurriness
  • Muscle discomfort
  • Seizure disorders

Another study on rats revealed that CBD may help relieve inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis. However, a study on human cells to replicate the same results does not exist.

CBD is available in many forms, which enable manufacturers to release a wide variety of CBD-based products, such as:

Oils and tinctures

CBD Oils & Tinctures

CBD oil is an increasingly popular product in the US and the European Union. It comes in small bottles equipped with droppers. This way, you can take CBD by placing it under your tongue.

You may also find liquid CBD in tinctures, which may be safe alternatives for those who don’t like taking pills or tablets.

Creams and lotions

Topical creams that contain CBD claim to help relieve various skin conditions. The same goes for lotions, balms, and ointments with CBD in their compositions.

Capsules and pills

Besides oils, CBD capsules are the most common form of cannabis-derived products. Several states have legalized the use of CBD tablets and pills that may reduce both restlessness and the risk of seizures.

Some users avoid using CBD capsules because they deal with pill anxiety, a condition that makes swallowing pills very difficult, if not impossible. Also, other users claim that the onset of effects is too delayed compared to using CBD oils.


CBD Gummies

Carefully-dosed gummies that contain CBD are some of the most popular types of CBD products. They are cost-effective and tasty. Also, they are lightweight and compact, which makes them easy to carry along wherever you go.

Vaping Products

Another increasingly popular CBD product is vaporized CBD oil. Generally, people vape it from electronic cigarettes or vaping devices. Also, this type of CBD intake is the fastest absorbed by the body as the smoke reaches the lungs and the compounds enter directly into the bloodstream.

What are the benefits of CBD?

The health and wellness field shows growing appreciation for CBD and its potential effects on human well-being. Although the jury is still out on how exactly CBD may help, some research shows that cannabidiol benefits include:

Discomfort Relief

This study has shown that CBD may help diminish discomfort associated with disorders that produce inflammation. This potential effect may follow the impact that CBD has on endocannabinoid receptors.

Mental Haze

A study made on humans has revealed that CBD may reduce mental blurriness as a result of oral intake of a 150-mg dose of CBD. Additionally, CBD may have a positive influence on mental clarity for patients dealing with PTSD.

CBD Oil May Relieve Acne

Acne is a common skin condition that produces blemishes and blots on your face. This study shows that CBD oil may reduce acne thanks to its potential anti-inflammatory properties.

Potential Neuroprotective Effects

Some researchers believe that CBD’s impact on the endocannabinoid system could come with essential Neuroprotective benefits. For instance, this study reveals that CBD intake might relieve muscle spasticity and help reduce the risk of seizures.

Possible Support for Heart Health

Some studies have revealed that CBD intake over a long period may have positive effects on the circulatory system. More exactly, the cannabidiol may reduce high blood pressure in healthy users. As a result, CBD might help improve heart health and help alleviate heart problems.

Potential Diabetes Prevention

This short study on diabetic mice showed that CBD intake may reduce the incidence of diabetes by 56%.

Why is CBD so popular?

In recent years, CBD has been a popular presence in both the online medium and in physical shops. People seem to appreciate it so much that they buy it in any form, be it CBD oils, creams, gummies, coffee beans, and CBD-infused pillows.

One of the reasons for this sudden surge in popularity is that uninformed users look at it as some safe, wonder-drug cannabis solution. Some expect it to get high from it. Others believe that it will relieve their aches. Unfortunately, most of them might experience only a placebo effect or a vague sensation compared to their expectations.

CBD is also marketed by many “cosmetics” manufacturers as a multi-target drug. Usually, ads for these products promise a variety of effects that CBD is unlikely to deliver. Our recommendation is to avoid CBD-based products that suggest they might heal diseases.

Lastly, CBD has become highly popular because most US citizens can acquire it easily. Since 2018, when the US government passed the Farm Bill, hemp producing less than 0.3% THC has become legal. As a result, an entire industry appeared overnight and specialized in extracting CBD from hemp and selling it in various products.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to know that cannabis-derived products are illegal at the federal level. They are legal at the state level in some American states. Therefore, you should always check the laws in the state where you are before using CBD products.

How to use CBD

How to use CBD

If you have chosen to use CBD, regardless of your reason, you should know that you may experience different effects than other users. Also, your best choice is to do your due diligence and get a good grasp of what this compound is before using it.

You can have your pick from various CBD-based products, including oils, gummies, pills, etc. Regardless of your choice, you should start with a small dose. Observe how you feel within the next few hours. Also, you should only increase the dosis when you know how your body reacts to it.

Researchers agree that pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use CBD in any form. The same goes for children and people dealing with liver problems or Parkinson's disease.

Are there any CBD side effects?

CBD oral intake should be safe for most adults, as soon as the daily doses remain under 300 mg. Several clinical studies have shown that daily use, for as many as six months, should not produce adverse side effects.

Nevertheless, taking CBD differs from one person to another. When using it, you may experience one or more of these side effects:

  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness

If you are keen on taking CBD, speak to a healthcare provider beforehand. Try to obtain a professional opinion as to how this compound may help you.

The Bottom Line - What is CBD, and how can it benefit you?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound in the cannabis Sativa plant. Contrary to one of its compound siblings, THC, CBD should not have psychoactive effects. Therefore, it is unlikely to get you high, stoned, or highly intoxicated.

In the United States, cannabis with less than 0.3% THC, also known as hemp, is legal since 2018. The compounds obtained from this plant, including CBD, are in the grey legal territory. Simply put, their legality has not been established yet. So, some manufacturers take advantage of it to produce CBD-based products.

While there are many claims for the potential health benefits of CBD, this compound is still under ongoing research. Some believe that CBD may help with restlessness, muscle discomfort, and mental clarity. However, the clinical studies conducted so far have yet to confirm these claims.

The good news is that most medical trials qualify CBD as a generally safe natural compound. If you are interested in trying CBD, you can buy several products online, such as CBD oil, CBD gummies, CBD, and CBD capsules.

A good idea should be to speak to your healthcare provider before using CBD.

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