What is CBD?

Posted by Nicholas Entzel on

Updated February 2024

If you're interested in wellness, chances are high that you've heard about CBD. Short for Cannabidiol, CBD is derived from either cannabis or hemp plants, and it’s rapidly rising in popularity due to its numerous potential benefits*.

But what exactly is CBD, and why should you consider incorporating it into your self-care routine?

Let's dive deeper into the definition, sources, and mechanisms behind CBD.

What is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is one of over 100 different cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another well-known cannabinoid, CBD does not produce a psychoactive effect or a "high."

CBD has gained popularity for its potential wellness properties and is being studied for its possible benefits*. It is believed to interact with the endocannabinoid system in the human body, which plays a role in regulating various physiological processes.

You can usually consume CBD in a wide variety of ways, including oils, capsules, topicals, and edibles. While CBD is generally considered a safe supplement, its effectiveness and potential side effects can vary, and more clinical trials are still needed to fully understand its impact on human wellness.

You should also keep in mind that the legal status of CBD varies by country and region, so be mindful of your local restrictions.

Historical Background

Cannabis has been cultivated and used by various civilizations for thousands of years, with ancient Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, and Greek cultures using cannabis for ritualistic purposes.

In the 20th century, scientists began isolating and identifying cannabinoids. In the latter part of the century, the endocannabinoid system was discovered, along with its function in regulating mood, appetite, sleep, and immune response.

These scientific advancements led to a resurgence of interest in the application of cannabis and its cannabinoids in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, with CBD becoming fully legal in the United States with the 2018 Farm Bill.

Now, CBD is gaining acceptance all around the world, with multiple countries removing restrictions around CBD, often as a first step in full cannabis legalization.

How Does CBD Work?

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex network that regulates various functions to maintain balance. There are two main types of receptors in this system: CB1 in the brain and CB2 in peripheral tissues. Unlike THC, CBD doesn't produce a high because it has a low affinity for CB1 receptors. Instead, it influences CB2 receptors, potentially assisting with wellness.

Also, CBD may modulate endocannabinoids, inhibit enzymes like FAAH, and interact with other receptors, like serotonin receptors, contributing to its potential effects*.

Potential Benefits of CBD

CBD has gained attention for its potential wellness benefits*, although it’s always good to keep in mind that more research is needed to fully understand the extent of CBD's potential.

Let’s take a look at some of the potential wellness benefits of CBD:

  • May support relaxation*
  • May support sleep*
  • May support recovery*

While these potential benefits are promising, it's crucial to approach CBD as a complementary or alternative therapy under the guidance of your healthcare professional if you want to explore and enjoy the potential benefits* of CBD.

Risks and Side Effects

While generally considered safe, CBD can cause adverse reactions in some users, including dry mouth, diarrhea, decreased appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. CBD may also interact with some medications, so you should check with your healthcare provider to avoid any undesired drug interactions if you’re under medication.

Moreover, due to insufficient oversight and inconsistent product quality, potential interaction with other medications and improper dosage pose significant challenges. Always consult your healthcare provider before adding CBD to your daily regimen, particularly if you take prescription drugs or have underlying medical conditions.

Plus, some CBD products are simply labeled and sold as dietary supplements with next to no regulation, so you should always use trusted brands from trusted sellers if you want to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for.

Legal Status and Availability

The legal status and availability of CBD and other hemp products vary widely depending on the jurisdiction. Here’s how some countries around the world handle CBD:

  • United States: In the United States, hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC was federally legalized with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. However, individual states may have additional regulations and Epidiolex is currently the only CBD medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • European Union: In the European Union, CBD is not classified as a controlled substance, and its legality varies among member states, with countries permitting the sale and use of CBD products, while others have stricter regulations.
  • Canada: In Canada, CBD is legal along with cannabis, and the country has established regulations for its production and sale leading to a wide variety of CBD and other cannabis-derived products available for recreational use.
  • Other Countries: CBD's legal status is diverse globally. Some countries have fully legalized CBD, while others strictly regulate or prohibit it. Although CBD has generally more acceptance than THC, you should look up your local laws and regulations before purchasing or using CBD products.

How to Use CBD

There are a wide array of delivery formats for CBD, including CBD creams, gummies, vaping e-juices, and tinctures.

However, if you want to enjoy the effects of CBD and avoid any contaminants, make sure to buy high-quality products with third-party lab testing, like the ones by Fab CBD and NuLeaf Naturals.

Both companies are industry leaders with high-quality and tested CBD products.


Here are answers to common questions on CBD:

What does CBD do?

CBD interacts with the human body's endocannabinoid system, which regulates various functions like mood, pain, and inflammation.

Is CBD the same as marijuana?

No, CBD is not the same as marijuana. Both substances originate from cannabis sativa plants but possess different chemical profiles. Marijuana contains substantial amounts of THC, the active ingredient responsible for producing the "high," while CBD can be extracted from hemp plants with minimal THC content (less than 0.3%). Consequently, CBD usually does not induce intoxicating effects.

Is CBD legal in all states?

Although hemp-derived CBD became federally legal in the U.S. with the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018, state laws vary considerably. Some states allow recreational and medical marijuana use, while others impose strict penalties for possession and distribution. Before purchasing or using CBD, familiarize yourself with regional regulations to ensure compliance.

Does CBD have side effects?

Yes, CBD can cause side effects in some individuals, including dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. More severe consequences may arise from drug interactions or poor-quality products contaminated with harmful chemicals. Check with your healthcare provider before integrating CBD into your daily routine, especially if you take prescribed medications or suffer from preexisting health issues, and always get medical cannabis products from trusted brands and sellers.

What is the recommended daily dosage of CBD?

Finding the perfect dose of CBD for you will depend on multiple factors, including body weight, metabolism, tolerance, and your intended purpose. There is currently no universally agreed-upon recommendation, making it crucial to start with low doses and gradually increase them until achieving the desired effect. Check with a healthcare professional educated in cannabis who can provide valuable insight and customized guidance for you.

* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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