Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on December 25, 2022

CBD (which stands for Cannabidiol) has been rocking the world of wellness and medical marijuana for quite a while now, so you must’ve heard about it ten thousand times already – and for a good reason. Its many benefits are what keep CBD the talk of the town, and the cannabis market only keeps expanding its CBD product selection.

If you want to know more details about CBD, like where it comes from, what are its effects, and more, this article is for you. Let’s begin!

What Type of Cannabinoid Is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the major phytocannabinoids (phyto = of a plant) found in the cannabis plant together with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD is a non-intoxication cannabinoid that doesn’t produce any mind-altering effects and it’s famous for its therapeutic effects.

CBD is found in all types of the cannabis plant but in different concentrations. For example, Cannabis Indica contains small amounts of CBD (so strains even contain 0% CBD), while Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Ruderalis contain moderate amounts of CBD. However, the industrial hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa L.), which is a subtype of Cannabis Sativa, is the biggest source of CBD because it’s naturally very high in this cannabinoid, while it only contains trace amounts of THC. Unlike marijuana, hemp was federally legalized with the 2018 Farm Bill, which allows the legal cultivation and consumption of hemp across all states.

How CBD Works In the Human Body

The way CBD works in the human body is primarily through the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a cell-signaling system in the body that plays an important role in key functions that contribute to homeostasis in the body, like appetite, sleep, pain, mood, inflammation, and many others. 

It has been found that normally, whenever there is a disruption to the homeostasis, the body produces its own endocannabinoids (endogenous = endo = internal) in an attempt to restore balance. What happens is the endocannabinoids attach to the cannabinoid receptors found in different locations in the body and they start transmitting messages that help with regulation.

The cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant have a similar structure to the endocannabinoids produced in the body which allows them to attach to the same cannabinoid receptors and temporarily take over.

THC, the cannabinoid that gets you high, directly attaches to the cannabinoid receptors found in the central nervous system, but CBD operates differently.

It seems like CBD works by influencing the cannabinoid receptors indirectly. It doesn’t attach to them fully like THC does, making it non-intoxicating, and it stops the breakdown of the body’s own endocannabinoids allowing them to prolong their effects.

What’s more, scientists also believe that CBD takes other pathways and works with non-cannabinoid receptors involved with the release of dopamine and inflammation. You can find out more about how CBD works in the body here.

What Are the Effects of CBD?

The effects of CBD are much more subtle in comparison to its sibling THC. For starters, CBD doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects, making it a non-intoxicating cannabinoid. For this reason, drug tests don’t look for CBD, but they detect THC.

CBD’s effects come on slowly and gradually, you might not immediately feel a big difference the first time you take CBD. You’ll probably feel a mild relief and an overall more balanced mood. Over time, however, as days go by and your body adjusts, you may feel improvement in your overall wellness, and if you had any symptoms, to begin with, you might feel their absence.

The effects of CBD are felt after about 15-20 minutes with sublingual consumption, while with edibles and capsules it might take about an hour or more because the CBD has to go through the digestive system. Smoking or vaping CBD flowers should give you quicker results, but the effects don’t last as long.

The Health Benefits of CBD Are Numerous and Counting

The health benefits of CBD have been recognized and as a result, CBD is often used as medical cannabis. It has a way to adapt to the body’s needs and restore balance where it’s needed. 

  1. Its anti-inflammatory properties are effective in bringing pain relief as well as reducing the symptoms of chronic conditions, like Crohn’s disease and fibromyalgia, to name a few. 
  2. CBD also has anxiolytic properties, which makes it effective for stress and anxiety disorders. CBD can stabilize the mood and make you calmer, which is why some people also use it to control their depressive symptoms. On that note, CBD can also be effective for insomnia and restoring a disrupted circadian rhythm.
  3. CBD can also reduce muscle pain and muscle spasticity related to arthritis and multiple sclerosis, and its neuroprotective properties make it a potential treatment option for neurodegenerative diseases.
  4. The use of CBD may also help in battling alcohol, tobacco, and opioid addiction by lowering the cravings.

CBD-Derived Medications

CBD’s anticonvulsant potential was extensively studied and after a number of clinical trials, in 2018 a CBD-based prescription medicine was approved by the FDA (U.S.Food and Drug Administration). The medicine in question is called Epidiolex and it’s intended to treat the symptoms of two rare and severe forms of childhood epilepsy, called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

Sativex, an oromucosal spray, is another CBD-based medicine that also contains THC and it’s intended to help relieve neuropathic pain and muscle spasticity from multiple sclerosis.

CBD Safety and Side Effects

CBD is a pretty well tolerated cannabinoid by most people, even children and pets. It rarely causes side effects, and when it does, it’s usually dose-dependent, but it can also happen to people who are sensitive to CBD. The most common side effects caused by CBD are nausea, appetite changes, fatigue, and diarrhea.

CBD may also react with some medications because it interferes with the work of certain liver enzymes that are responsible for metabolizing both CBD and the medications. In this manner, CBD is very similar to grapefruit, so if you’re on any meds, you should look for the grapefruit warning on the label.

Finally, CBD is a non-addictive substance, so if you ever want to stop taking it, you shouldn’t worry about experiencing any withdrawal symptoms.

CBD Legality Across the States

CBD is legal in most states in the U.S. where recreational and/or medical marijuana are legalized, with the exception of four states (Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, South Carolina) where currently cannabis is illegal altogether in any form. In addition, in seven states (Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin) CBD is only legal in the form of CBD oil and is used strictly for medical purposes.

CBD Oil And Other Popular CBD Products

CBD is available in many different forms, so there is a little something for everyone’s needs. 

One of the most commonly used CBD products is CBD oil which is CBD hemp extract diluted in a carrier oil like olive oil, coconut oil, or MCT oil to make it readily bioavailable.

Similar to CBD oil is CBD tinctures, but instead of oil, the CBD is diluted in alcohol, which also increases its bioavailability.

There are also pure CBD extracts, like CBD isolate, which is a powdered form of pure CBD that’s very versatile to use.

Edibles, such as CBD gummies, are another very popular product because of their convenience and easy dosing. Most CBD gummies come in servings of 5 mg per gummy, but there are also others in 10 mg or more. 

CBD topicals and patches are great for pain relief of sore spots, like after a strenuous workout, or if chronic pain is a symptom of another condition, such as arthritis.

You can also smoke CBD flowers or vape CBD concentrates, but these are a little harder to find on the market. Instead, CBD vapes are much more prevalent and the selection is more varied.

There Are Three Types of CBD

When you choose a CBD product, you should know that there are three types of CBD you’ll find on the market:

  • CBD isolate products contain only CBD and the other cannabinoids and terpenes are stripped;
  • Broad-spectrum CBD products contain all the other cannabinoids and terpenes, apart from THC;
  • Full-spectrum CBD products all cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant, including THC in 0.3%.

CBD Dosing and How to Use CBD Products

There are no limits to how you can use CBD products as long as you enjoy using them. Products like CBD oil and tinctures can be added to any food or beverage for easier consumption, or they can be taken sublingually for better absorption rates. 

However, pure hemp extracts like CBD isolate should be taken with a little fat to increase their bioavailability. For example, if you add some to your coffee, make sure to add milk or creamer as well for the fat content.

You can smoke or vape CBD flowers, and they’re just as fragrant as marijuana buds, though not as popular, so some dispensaries may not have a wide selection. Ingestibles, like CBD capsules and edibles, are taken as you would any other capsule or food, while topicals work best when you also massage the sore spots.

As for dosing, it’s best to start with the smallest dose. This isn’t only to avoid dose-dependent side effects, but also to allow your body to adjust to CBD and slowly increase your tolerance. So, don’t up your intake just because you don’t feel any noticeable effects right away, but wait a few days, and you’ll see the difference.

What Does CBD Stand For in Weed

CBD (Cannabidiol) is the other major cannabinoid in the cannabis plant (aside from THC) and it’s most abundant in the industrial hemp plant (which is the major source for the production of CBD products). The effects of CBD are more subtle and aren’t felt immediately, but the absence of symptoms and overall wellness is a sign that it’s working. CBD is very well tolerated, it rarely causes side effects, and it’s not addictive.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


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