The Beginner’s Guide to CBD

There are a lot of myths about CBD floating around the internet. People are confused about the seemingly mysterious cannabis-derived compound. Where does it come from? What is its purpose? Why are so many people talking about it?

It can be hard to separate truth from fiction – so here’s a quick run down of all of the basics you need to know about CBD.

What Is CBD?

What in the world is CBD? Well, CBD, more formally known as cannabidiol, is a compound naturally produced by cannabis plants. These compounds are called cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids are produced by cannabis plants during development. Some are produced earlier and some later, so breeders will often selectively harvest their crop to have more of one cannabinoid over another. Once the plant has been harvested, the compounds are often extracted and condensed into an oil that can then be used in a wide range of different products.

More than 60 different kinds of cannabinoids have been documented, but there are a few that are a little more prominent than others. The main cannabinoids include CBD, THC, CBG, CBN and CBC. Each cannabinoid reacts to the body in a slightly different way and has its own unique properties.

For now, the only two cannabinoids you really need to worry about are CBD and THC.

There are two main plants in the cannabis family – hemp and marijuana. Hemp produces a high concentration of CBD, while marijuana produces more THC.

THC is the psychoactive drug that marijuana users seek to give them a “high” feeling. It can sometimes have negative side effects, which is why THC-rich marijuana is illegal in most states.

CBD on the other hand, is produced by marijuana’s sister plant hemp. Hemp has traditionally been used to make fiber and rope products, but researchers are quickly realizing that it has a lot of other uses as well. Because of its lack of THC, hemp is perfectly legal and the compounds it produces provide a lot of health benefits.

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How Does CBD Interact with the Body?

Trying a natural medicine or drug can be intimidating. Natural remedies often have a negative stigma attached to them. That’s why it’s so important to have hard evidence to back up medicinal claims.

The use of cannabis for medicinal purposes can be traced back thousands of years. Although doctors back then may not have known exactly how cannabis worked, its healing properties were obvious. In modern times researchers have discovered how CBD and other cannabinoids interact with the body and what they do to regulate internal systems.

When CBD is ingested into the human body, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system was discovered by researchers in the late 1900s. Although our knowledge about the system is relatively new, scientists agree that it is vital for the human body to function.

The endocannabinoid system is regulated by enzymes and two sets of receptors – the CB1 receptor, which deals directly with the central nervous system, various glands, the brain and several important organs, and the CB2 receptor, which has more to do with the immune system and peripheral organs.

Our body naturally produces compounds called endogenous cannabinoids. These compounds, along with different lipids and ligands, react with the CB1 and CB2 receptors to help the endocannabinoid system maintain a stable internal environment. This act of keeping the body regulated is called “homeostasis” and is required for a healthy, well-balanced life.

This is where cannabinoids come into the picture. The cannabinoids that cannabis plants produce interact with the endocannabinoid system in a similar way to endogenous cannabinoids. When they do so, they positively affect the system in several ways. When CBD interacts with the body it has been shown to sooth chronic pain, reduce joint inflammation, fight certain types of cancers, reduce levels of anxiety and depression and promote muscle healing, among other things.

Outside of the endocannabinoid system, CBD has also been found to have effects on serotonin receptors, vanilloid pain receptors and several other systems that maintain perceptions of pain, mood disorders and insomnia, according to this 2016 study.

The best part is, researchers have found that taking CBD doesn’t cause many, if any negative side effects.

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What are My Options?

Now that you know a little bit about CBD and what it does, you’re probably wondering how its taken and what options are available.

When CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant, it is typically condensed into a highly-saturated oil. This oil is then used to make vape additives, tinctures, capsules, edibles and topical ointments. There are all kinds of CBD products available if you know where to look.

Vape additives are considered to be the most effective way to ingest CBD. When CBD is vaped, it is absorbed directly into the blood stream through the lungs. This means it can take effect almost immediately. Vaping also allows the largest percentage of CBD to be taken in, with up to 40% being absorbed into the body.

Tinctures are quick to take and can be added to meals and drinks. Like vaping, tinctures allow CBD to be absorbed quickly and efficiently. When taken sublingually under the tongue, tinctures can take effect in as little as 15 minutes. Tinctures are highly recommended for those with chronic conditions.

Capsules and edibles are also available for people who are looking for easy, long-lasting relief. Because they are absorbed through the digestive system, they take a little longer to take effect. However, they typically last much longer – up to 8 hours at a time.

Finally, topical ointments infused with CBD are available for those who need targeted pain relief. Topical ointments such as lotions, salves and creams are great for muscle pain, joint pain and skin irritation.

What Can These Products Help with?

Each type of CBD product works especially well for different types of ailments.  Here is a short list of some common ailments and how CBD can help.

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Athletic Pain

For those with athletic injuries or regular muscle spasms, CBD can interact with pain receptors and the immune system to sooth pain, calm muscles, reduce spasms, reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Topical ointments work especially well for those who need quick joint and muscle relief in specific, targeted areas. Capsules and edibles are good for those who need pain relief throughout the day and tinctures are perfect for quick, deep relief.

Sleep Aid

CBD can provide a great deal of relief for the 50% of people in modern day society who struggle with sleep disorders. Taking CBD has been shown to significantly reduce the side effects of insomnia, sleep apnea and sleep-related movement disorders.

Tinctures are especially good for those with sleep disorders. A tincture can be taken 30 minutes before bed for a longer, more restful night’s sleep. Capsules and edibles are also recommended since their effects can last much longer than many other types of administration.

Depression, Anxiety and Other Mood Disorders

Because CBD can interact with both the endocannabinoid system and serotonin receptors, it is especially effective for those with depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mood disorders. CBD can help balance the way the mind processes stressful situations while simultaneously boosting serotonin levels to boost your mood.

Vapes are great for those who are prone to panic or anxiety attacks and need instant relief. Tinctures are good for those with chronic conditions who need steady relief over time.

Chronic Pain and Inflammation

For those suffer from chronic pain, inflammation and arthritis, CBD can provide relief throughout the day and night. CBD will not only decrease inflammation and boost the immune system, but it can also change the way the mind processes pain to drastically improve symptoms.

Topical ointments are perfect for those with pain, inflammation and joint problems in a particular area. By using an ointment, the CBD is absorbed through the skin and can start fighting symptoms in a targeted spot. Capsules and edibles are also good for those with these symptoms because they are easy to take and will last longer throughout the day or night.


Callén, L., Moreno, E., Barroso-Chinea, P., Moreno-Delgado, D., Cortés, A., Mallol, J., … McCormick, P. J. (2012). Cannabinoid Receptors CB1 and CB2Form Functional Heteromers in Brain. The Journal of Biological Chemistry287(25), 20851–20865.

Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology163(7), 1344–1364.

Shannon, S., & Opila-Lehman, J. (2016). Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. The Permanente Journal20(4), 108–111.

Zuardi, A.W. (2008). Cannabidiol: from an inactive cannabinoid to a drug with wide spectrum of action. Rev Bras Psiquiatr, 30(3), 271-280.

Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics12(4), 825–836.

Haj-Dahmane, S., & Shen, R.-Y. (2011). Modulation of the Serotonin System by Endocannabinoid Signaling. Neuropharmacology, 61(3), 414–420.

Lu, H.-C., & Mackie, K. (2016). An introduction to the endogenous cannabinoid system. Biological Psychiatry, 79(7), 516–525.



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