What is CBD | A Beginners Guide to CBD (Cannabidiol)

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CBD, short for “cannabidiol,” is a trending topic in the world of health and wellness.

CBD can be derived from the hemp plant and has gained popularity for its potential therapeutic benefits without the mind-altering effects that are typically associated with cannabis use.

In this beginner’s guide, we will explore the fundamentals of hemp-derived CBD, including its legality, how it works, its uses, types, and products, and more.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis and hemp plant. It is one of over 100 cannabinoids identified in these plants, alongside the more well-known THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

However, unlike THC, CBD does not produce the psychoactive or euphoric effects commonly associated with cannabis use, meaning it doesn’t cause a “high” or altered state of mind. Rather, people use CBD for a variety of reasons, such as managing chronic pain, reducing stress and anxiety, and improving sleep.

The cannabis plant species consists of two main varieties: hemp and marijuana. CBD can be extracted from both, but the commercial CBD in the market is commonly derived from hemp.

Hemp-derived CBD is available in various product forms in the market, including oils, capsules, edibles, topicals, and more. 

How does CBD work?

CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in your body. The ECS is a complex network of cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body, including the brain, immune system, and various organs.

This system plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes, such as mood, appetite, sleep, immune response, and pain sensation.

When you intake CBD, it influences the activity of cannabinoid receptors, particularly CB1 and CB2 receptors, and helps them reach a state of homeostasis. By modulating the activity of these receptors, CBD can have a wide range of potential therapeutic effects.

Moreover, CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are key aspects of its mechanism of action. By reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, CBD can provide therapeutic benefits in conditions associated with chronic pain and arthritis.

Additionally, the concept of the “entourage effect” suggests that the combined presence of various compounds in the hemp plant, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, can also enhance the overall therapeutic effects of CBD.

Is CBD legal?

The legality of CBD varies depending on factors such as the source of the CBD (whether it’s derived from hemp or marijuana), the specific country or region, and local regulations.

In many countries, CBD derived from industrial hemp with low THC content is legal including the US. The 2018 Farm Bill, legalized the cultivation and sale of industrial hemp and its extracts  in the US, including CBD. As long as the THC content does not exceed 0.3% concentration by dry weight.

In the European Union, hemp-derived CBD is legal as well, with each state having its regulations.

Nevertheless, CBD derived from a cannabis plant remains federally illegal in the US, but legal in cannabis-pro states. 

What are the benefits of CBD?

While research is ongoing, here are some of the commonly reported benefits of CBD:

Pain management: One of the most well-known uses of CBD is in managing pain, reducing inflammation and pain perception. Many people use CBD for chronic conditions such as arthritis, back pain, and migraines (1).

Stress, anxiety, and depression management: CBD has shown promise in preclinical and clinical studies for its potential anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) and antidepressant effects. It can influence serotonin receptors in the brain, helping to regulate mood and alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression (2).

Sleep improvement: Some individuals use CBD to address sleep issues, including insomnia. Its calming effects can help promote relaxation, making it easier for some people to fall asleep and improve sleep quality (3).

Seizure management: The FDA has approved a CBD-based medication called Epidiolex for the treatment of certain rare and severe forms of epilepsy, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. 

Neuroprotection: Research suggests that CBD can have neuroprotective properties, potentially benefiting individuals with neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis (4). 

Skin conditions improvement: Topical CBD products, such as creams and balms, are used for various skin conditions. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-itching properties can be beneficial for conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis (5, 6).

Addiction management: Some studies suggest that CBD can help individuals struggling with addiction, particularly to substances like alcohol and opioids. It has been found that CBD can modulate the reward system in the brain, potentially reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms (7).

CBD for pets: CBD also has the potential to make your dog’s and cat’s lives better by reducing anxiety and aggression (8).

General wellness: Many people use CBD as a part of their wellness routine, even in the absence of specific health conditions. People generally take it to promote overall well-being, manage stress, get a good sleep, or as a preventive measure.

It’s crucial to note that individual responses to CBD can vary, and while there’s promising research, more studies are needed to establish its efficacy for specific conditions.

What are the risks of CBD?

With all these benefits of CBD, certain discomforts can also come from its use but they are usually rare and only happen if you misuse a CBD product, or use a poor-quality CBD product in high dosage.

You may experience some side effects of CBD, like:

Although, the side effects of CBD are experienced by very few people and only when there is a bad quality product, misuse, or other drugs are involved.

What are the types of CBD extracts?

CBD can be classified into 3 extract types:

Full Spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD contains all the natural cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes that are naturally found in hemp plants. Although, the THC content should be less than 0.3% for commercial use.

Full-spectrum CBD offers the full benefit of the entourage effect, which means that all the cannabinoids and terpenes that are extracted from hemp are combined in synergy in your body to increase its effectiveness which further increases your wellness and overall health.

It is to be noted that full-spectrum CBD does contain THC (0.3%), so there is a good chance that it will test positive in a drug test.

Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD is very similar to the full spectrum CBD, except it does not contain any amount of THC. Although, it does have the rest of the cannabinoids and terpenes.

A broad-spectrum CBD will not come up in a drug test.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate products contain up to 99% of pure CBD only. It’s a completely isolated formula that does not have other terpenes or cannabinoids, hence they are the purest forms of CBD.

Many people have a different opinion on which type of CBD is the best, for some full spectrum works best because of the entourage effects, while others prefer CBD isolate because it is the pure form of CBD. 

The best you can do is try them all and decide for yourself.

What are the different types of CBD products available?

Different types of CBD product chart

The CBD industry is ever-growing and there are a lot of different CBD brands and products available in the market, but most CBD products can be categorized into the following ways:

  1. CBD oils are the most common method of CBD consumption. It comes in various sizes and tastes. You can consume it by placing a few drops of CBD oil in your mouth, or you can mix it in your food or drinks.
  2. CBD topicals are CBD-infused lotions, roll-ons, and creams. You can use CBD in topical form to manage muscle pain and inflammation or to support healthy skin.
  3. CBD capsules are another method of CBD consumption that is pretty popular in medical communities since they are easy to take and can be dosed with a very precise amount. 
  4. CBD edibles are another form of CBD that uses CBD-infused treats i.e. CBD gummies and CBD chocolates. This is the most popular method of CBD consumption because a CBD edible tastes incredible and their dosing is pretty accurate too.
  5. CBD cigarettes are another portable and discrete form of CBD consumption and they are also a better alternative to traditional cigarettes. 
  6. CBD flowers are one of the most popular methods of CBD consumption, as they can be consumed like any other cannabis flower.
  7. CBD beverages are another less popular form of CBD consumption but it is slowly picking the pace.

Ultimately, how you consume CBD is based on your personal preferences but try to explore different types before deciding on your favorite.

How much CBD should you take?

There is no fixed dosage for any CBD product because CBD is not regulated by FDA. However, it is recommended you start with the minimum dosage (say, 10 mg), which in most cases can be clearly mentioned on the CBD product package, and observe how you feel after a week.

If you feel like CBD is not working after a week, increase the dosage by 5 to 10 mg. Do this process until you reach the desired effect.

Rest assured, it is near impossible to overdose on CBD but the heavy dosage may cause some mild discomfort and it will also be heavy on your pocket.

For more details, check out this CBD dosage guide.

Is CBD addictive?

CBD is considered non-addictive. Unlike THC, it does not produce the euphoric “high” that can lead to addiction. Studies suggest that, CBD can even help individuals struggling with addiction to substances.

However, it’s essential to use CBD responsibly and as directed, as excessive consumption of any substance can have bad effects.

Final thoughts

The CBD industry is still new and there is still a need for a lot of research, but what we know for now is that it is truly a useful compound that is here to stay.

However, it is not regulated by the FDA yet, so advise caution while shopping and consuming any CBD products and remember that not all CBD are equal.

That being said, CBD is a non-addictive substance that does have a lot of wellness benefits but individual responses can vary, so be patient and always use high-quality CBD.


The information provided in this article is meant for general use only and may not always suit everyone’s individual needs. Your health and wellness are personal, so you should consult a medical professional for personalized advice before making any decisions based on our content.

We value the editorial integrity of all our articles and try to ensure that what we publish is reliable and up-to-date to the best of our knowledge. For more information, please read our Disclosure Policy.


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