What is CBD? Ultimate Guide

Over the past decade, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness and play an active role in the remarkable evolution of the cannabis industry. From my early days as one of the first female business owners in this space to co-founding CBD Nationwide, I’ve been on a journey to understand, educate, and innovate.

CBD, or cannabidiol, a compound in Cannabis sativa, offers therapeutic benefits without THC’s “high.” It interacts with the body’s ECS, aiding in pain, inflammation, and sleep. Available as tinctures, capsules, creams, and patches, it’s vital to choose third-party tested products and consult healthcare professionals for safe use.

Through platforms like CannaCertified, we’ve been striving to demystify the world of CBD, breaking down barriers and dispelling myths. In this post, we delve into the heart of CBD — exploring its origins, benefits, and the distinctions that set it apart from other cannabinoids. Whether you’re new to the world of cannabis or looking to deepen your knowledge, I hope this post provides the clarity you seek.

Key Takeaways

    • CBD is a non-psychoactive compound in Cannabis sativa, offering therapeutic benefits without the “high” of THC.

    • CBD has potential in managing chronic pain, inflammation, and sleep disorders, interacting with the endocannabinoid system.

    • Various consumption methods exist for CBD, including oral tinctures, capsules, topical creams, and transdermal patches, each with unique benefits.

    • Choose CBD products with third-party testing for quality and consult healthcare professionals for personalized dosage and safety guidelines.

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring component found in the Cannabis sativa plant. When we talk about cannabis, we often think about the popular recreational drug marijuana, but cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that also includes hemp. Interestingly, CBD accounts for nearly 40% of the plant’s extract, making it one of over 150 cannabinoids present in this versatile plant. (1)

The oil that we often see on shelves or in online stores is derived from these cannabis plants, with most of it typically being extracted from hemp due to its low THC content and legality in many parts of the world.

The Origin of CBD

2:1 aspect ratio timeline that artistically traces the journey of CBD. The left side is dominated by hand-drawn sketches of ancient civilizations, with pottery and tools etched with cannabis leaf patterns, bathed in warm earthy colors, representing the historical bond. This ancient portrayal fluidly shifts to the right, where the scene transforms into a modern laboratory with scientists engaged in the extraction of CBD oil. This modern representation is detailed yet artistic, colored in clinical blues and greens, emphasizing advancement and innovation.

Contrary to what some might think, CBD does not cause a “high.” This is a characteristic often associated with another compound found in marijuana known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Instead, CBD can be derived from various types of cannabis plants, including both hemp and non-hemp varieties.

The Difference Between CBD and THC

While both CBD and THC are compounds found in cannabis, they interact with our bodies very differently. THC is known for causing a sense of euphoria or a “high” when consumed. This is because it is psychoactive.

On the other hand, CBD does not produce such effects. It’s non-psychoactive and won’t make you feel high, no matter how much you consume. This has made it an attractive option for those who want to benefit from the therapeutic properties of cannabis without experiencing the mind-altering effects brought on by THC.

The dichotomy between CBD and THC. On the left, a serene scene captures an individual in profound meditation, bathed in cool, calming shades, highlighting the therapeutic effects of CBD. The right bursts with life, showcasing a vivid festival with spirited individuals dancing, radiating in warm, saturated colors, indicative of THC's euphoric 'high'. The two distinct scenes blend harmoniously, mirroring the multifaceted nature of the cannabis plant.

How Does CBD Interact With The Human Body?

CBD works its magic by interacting with our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). (2) The ECS plays an essential role in regulating various functions such as sleep patterns, immune system responses, and pain perception.

CBD interacts with this system through natural cannabinoid receptors known as CB1 and CB2. These receptors are scattered throughout our bodies, including in our brains and other organs. This wide distribution of receptors allows CBD to have a broad range of effects.

Both THC and CBD can be consumed in several ways, including inhalation and oral ingestion. However, it’s essential to remember that while these two compounds may come from the same plant, their effects on our bodies are distinctly different.

Potential Health Benefits and Uses of CBD

CBD potentially offers health benefits like chronic pain relief, inflammation reduction, and sleep regulation.

Chronic Pain Relief with CBD

CBD has shown promising results in managing chronic pain. (3) It works its magic by increasing the body’s levels of anandamide, a compound associated with regulating pain. Not only does anandamide help manage pain, but it can also improve mood, making you feel better overall.

Furthermore, research suggests that CBD may limit inflammation in the brain and nervous system. (4) This anti-inflammatory effect can be beneficial for people experiencing chronic pain, insomnia, and certain immune system responses. In short, using CBD might be like hitting several birds with one stone!

Mood Improvement: The Role of Gratitude Practices

While CBD helps with physical conditions like pain and inflammation, gratitude practices can enhance your emotional health. Gratitude practices – simple actions like jotting down things you’re grateful for or mentally acknowledging your blessings – can boost feelings of well-being and increase positive emotions. (5)

These practices can help shift your focus from negative thoughts or experiences to more positive aspects of your life, resulting in improved mental health.

Limiting Inflammation: Another Benefit of Gratitude Practices

Interestingly enough, gratitude practices aren’t just good for your mood; they can also potentially influence your physical health. Research suggests that these practices can lead to increased resilience, reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improved overall life satisfaction. (6)

When we express appreciation for the positive aspects of life, we are essentially practicing gratitude. This simple action can help us process our experiences better and integrate them into our lives.

Sleep Regulation through CBD

If you’re struggling with sleep issues, CBD might be the answer you’re looking for! It can be taken orally with a maximum tolerated dose of 1,500mg per day. People commonly use it for pain relief, anxiety, depression, and yes – sleep disorders too!

Using CBD as a Treatment for Certain Health Conditions

2:1 aspect ratio image that's dreamy and delicate, illustrating the interaction of CBD with the human body. At its heart, a soft human silhouette is dotted with luminous points, representing CB1 and CB2 receptors. Encircling this figure is a gentle halo, capturing the all-encompassing benefits of CBD. Orbiting this central presence, ethereal symbols like a crescent moon symbolizing sleep, a shield for immunity, and a brain for cognitive function drift serenely. This dreamlike scene is set against a pastel color palette, enriched with soft gradients and gentle glows, exuding harmony and tranquility.

CBD has shown potential for managing various health conditions. (7) For instance, it can help manage neuropathic pain and arthritis pain, and it has shown promising results in alleviating symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Additionally, CBD may also offer relief for those struggling with anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and even addiction. In essence, this versatile compound may offer a natural alternative for managing several physical and mental health conditions.

Possible Side Effects and Risks of CBD

While generally considered quite safe, potential side effects of CBD can include nausea, fatigue, and irritability. It can also interact with other medications, leading to undesired side effects.

Common Side Effects of CBD

As with any substance, using CBD can lead to some side effects. These may vary from person to person and typically include symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, and irritability. Some people might also experience decreased appetite, dry mouth, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, and more fatigue.

It’s important to note that these side effects are usually mild and often disappear over time as the body adjusts to the CBD. However, if they persist or cause significant discomfort, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional.

Interactions of CBD with Other Medications

One crucial factor to be aware of when considering CBD is its potential interactions with other medications. Just like many other substances, CBD can interact with prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and even herbal supplements. These interactions can sometimes lead to undesired side effects.

One notable concern is the potential for liver injury. (8) While this is a rare occurrence, it’s nonetheless something to be aware of if you’re considering incorporating CBD into your routine.

If you’re already on medication for any condition, it’s best to consult your doctor or pharmacist before starting on CBD. They can help you understand potential interactions and adjust your doses accordingly.

Precautions for Certain Groups: Children and Pregnant Women

Not everyone should use CBD. In particular, children, pregnant women, and those who are breastfeeding are advised against using it unless under strict medical supervision.

For minors who need to use CBD for medical reasons (such as severe epilepsy), it should only be done with adult supervision and the approval of a medical professional who understands their specific situation.

Pregnant women and those breastfeeding should avoid using CBD entirely unless explicitly directed by a doctor. This is because we don’t yet fully understand how CBD might affect an unborn or nursing baby. As always, when considering new supplements or treatments, safety should be the top priority.

Different Forms and Methods of Using CBD

CBD can be consumed in various forms, including full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate CBD oil, orally through tinctures, capsules, or edibles, topically via creams and lotions, or transdermally with patches, each offering unique benefits and recommended for different user needs.

Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate CBD Oil: A Comparison

CBD comes in different forms, each with its unique features. The three most common types are full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate CBD oil.

Full-spectrum CBD is considered the most ‘complete’ form of CBD as it contains all the natural compounds present in the cannabis plant. (9) This includes terpenes and other cannabinoids that work together to create what’s known as the ‘entourage effect.’ This effect suggests that these compounds enhance each other’s benefits when they’re taken together.

Oral Consumption: Tinctures, Capsules, Edibles

One popular way to consume CBD is orally through tinctures, capsules, or edibles. CBD capsules provide a preset and regular serving of CBD oil. They are recommended for daily users, athletes, new users, and travelers looking for a convenient way to take their CBD.

CBD tincture drops are another option. These drops can be added to food or drinks or taken sublingually (under the tongue). They offer an easy way to control your daily dose of CBD.

Topical Application: Creams and Lotions

For those who prefer not to ingest their CBD or want targeted relief for specific areas, topical CBD products like creams and lotions might be the answer. These products are applied directly to the skin like any other lotion or cream.

Topical applications are recommended for everyone but can be especially beneficial for athletes seeking targeted pain relief or recovery support.

Transdermal Products: Patches

Finally, there’s also the option of transdermal CBD patches. These patches combine the benefits of ingestible and topical products by delivering a steady stream of CBD directly into your bloodstream through the skin. (10)

These patches can also contain other pain-relieving medicines, enhancing their effectiveness. They’re recommended for busy people and travelers who need a convenient ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ method of CBD absorption. They provide continuous relief over a certain period, typically around 8-12 hours.

Guidelines for Choosing Quality CBD Products

Stylized 2:1 aspect ratio image of a laboratory setting. A focused scientist, dressed in a lab coat and safety goggles, examines a CBD product under a microscope. Beside the microscope are glass beakers, test tubes with colorful solutions, and other scientific instruments, all set against a clean, organized lab backdrop.

When choosing and using quality CBD products, it’s important to ensure they’ve undergone third-party testing, understand their labeling and dosage information, abide by local legal considerations, and for first-time users, start with the smallest dose possible and gradually increase it.

The Importance of Third-Party Testing

When choosing a CBD product, it’s crucial to ensure that it has undergone third-party testing. (11) This type of testing is carried out by an independent lab to confirm the product’s quality, purity, and potency.

Remember, CBD oils are low-tetrahydrocannabinol products derived from Cannabis sativa. Therefore, third-party testing can also verify that the THC content in the product is within legal limits.

Understanding Labeling and Dosage Information

It’s essential to understand how to read CBD product labels and know the appropriate dosage for you. Although many products come with general dosage guidelines, specific dosage recommendations should ideally be obtained from a doctor or other medical professional familiar with your health situation.

If you’re using CBD capsules, monitoring your dosage becomes even easier since each capsule typically contains a predetermined amount of CBD.

Legal Considerations When Purchasing CBD Products

When buying CBD products, bear in mind that legality can differ depending on where you live. For example, in the UK and most European countries, CBD is legal as long as its THC content is below 0.2%. (12)(13)

In the United States, while CBD is largely legal, there are varying degrees of restriction depending on state laws. Always check your local regulations before purchasing and using CBD products.

Tips for First-Time Users

If you’re new to using CBD, it’s recommended to start with the smallest dose possible and gradually increase it until you find the dose that works best for you. This approach allows your body to adjust to the new supplement and helps prevent any potential side effects.

Remember, everyone’s body reacts differently to substances like CBD. So, what works well for someone else might not work as well for you. Start low and go slow until you know how your body will react to CBD.


    1. Healthline. (2020). What is CBD? Everything you need to know. Retrieved from Healthline.

    1. Grinspoon, P. (2018). Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t. Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publishing.

    1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2019). Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know. Retrieved from NCCIH.

    1. Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2019). Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants, 9(1), 21. MDPI.

    1. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377–389. APA PsycNet.

    1. Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 890-905. ScienceDirect.

    1. World Health Organization. (2018). Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. Retrieved from WHO.

    1. FDA. (2019). What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD. Retrieved from FDA.

    1. Project CBD. (2020). Full Spectrum: CBD vs. CBD Isolate. Retrieved from Project CBD.

    1. Medical News Today. (2020). What are CBD patches for pain? Retrieved from Medical News Today.

    1. Cornbread Hemp. (2023). Why is third-party lab testing important? Retrieved from Cornbread Hemp.

    1. HempKing. (2023). Legal status of CBD and THC in the UK. Retrieved from HempKing.

    1. EvoPure. (2023). Is CBD Oil Legal or Illegal? The Ultimate List of CBD Legal Countries. Retrieved from EvoPure.


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