CBD Overview

Cannabidiol (CBD) is increasing in popularity across the globe, CBD news and personal stories about CBD benefits are cropping up everywhere. It’s no wonder health and wellness professionals are supplementing CBD with yoga, meditation, and other healthy lifestyle activities to help you be the best version of yourself. 

This guide will provide you with a high-level CBD education to give you the knowledge and confidence to find the right CBD oil product for you. For a deeper dive, click through the links to learn more about any particular topic. As more CBD research and efficacy data becomes available we will continue to update this ultimate guide to CBD. 

What is CBD Oil?

Hemp CBD Oil is derived from the hemp plant, Cannabis Sativa. CBD does not cause intoxicating effects when consumed. That’s because Hemp CBD oil products, by law, contain less than .3% THC. The compound THC is responsible for causing an intoxicating high commonly associated with cannabis. Early research indicates CBD oil may be a viable option to positively impact wellness. The demand for CBD oil continues to grow as research progresses to study the benefits of CBD oil. 

What’s the difference between CBD Oil and Hemp Oil

Right now, if you Google CBD on Amazon, you’ll be redirected to Hemp oil products for sale on Amazon. Hemp oil, however, is not the same as Hemp CBD Oil.  Hemp oil on Amazon refers to hemp seed oil, not CBD Oil. CBD oil has a much larger potential for medical benefits than hemp seed oil. To illustrate the differences, the following graphic contrasts the various benefits of the hemp plant in the three parts: the flower, the stalk, and the seeds. 

CBD Oil is extracted from the green buds that flower from the hemp plant. The buds are the one part of the plant that is rich with cannabinoids. Hemp Oil and Hemp Seed Oil are extracted from the stalk or seeds of the hemp plant. Only trace amounts of CBD can be found in this part of the plant. Hemp seed oil may have some skincare benefits but lacks the same power as CBD oil extracted from the flowers of the plant. 

What is Cannabidiol?

CBD stands for cannabidoil and is the most prominent cannabinoid in hemp. Cannabidiol is a naturally occurring compound that is the most abundant in Hemp CBD oil products. CBD oil products do not produce an intoxicating high, are legal in all 50 states, and have potential wellness benefits that could improve your day-to-day activities.   

What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are the naturally occurring compounds found in mammals (that includes us humans) and in hemp plants. When they are produced in the mammalian body, they are called endocannabinoids, and when they occur in plants the cannabinoids are then called phytocannabinoids. CBD is one of the many phytocannabinoids found in cannabis. In fact, at the time of this publication, more than 120 phytocannabinoids have been discovered in the cannabis plant. 

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis comes from the Cannabaceae family of plants known for flowering properties. Interestingly, hops used to brew beer are also found in this small family of plants. Neat! The cannabis genus is a subgroup of the Cannabacae family that is a flowering herb with seeds that can be harvested once per year and is very easy to grow – it is a weed! CBD producing hemp plants (Cannabis Sativa plants with less than .3% THC) are federally legal in all 50 US states. Plants with more than .3% remain federally illegal and are regulated at the state level. 


The two major phytocannabinoids are THC and CBD. When consumed, THC generates a euphoric “high” experience, but CBD can potentially help with a wide variety of conditions without the intoxicating high. THC and CBD both provide value, but in different ways. An analogy to help illustrate this concept can be found in natural vs. over the counter sleep aids, for instance. If you drink chamomile tea before sleep, you are likely to wake up without the common drowsy feeling from over the counter sleep aids because of the difference in chemical structure and ingredients in the products. It is the chemical makeup of THC that causes it to have a different effect on our bodies than CBD.

What is the entourage effect? 

Cannabinoids and terpenes develop in the resin of the hemp plant flower. When terpenes and cannabinoids work together, they create a certain effect and flavor known as the entourage effect. Essentially, the plant together is greater than the sum of its parts. While CBD – or any singular cannabinoid for that matter – has its value, science points to the whole plant as the reason for potential wellness benefits.

CBD Oil Benefits

CBD oil entourage effect benefits are wide-ranging because of CBD’s ability to aid in homeostasis – or balance – in the body via the endocannabinoid system (more on this in a bit). There are many studies available about CBD benefits. Here are a few of the studies that go beyond surveys and hearsay to arrive a scientifically proven results about CBD:
Relaxing Effects: In one double-blind study (the gold standard of scientific studies) one group ingested 32mg of CBD compared to a placebo group. The results showed that CBD could be a potential therapy to help relax and increase calm. 
Improve general wellness: In a non-human study, CBD has shown to have positive outcomes related to cases of reduced activity and energy.  
Sleep: In this double-blind study, taking 2.5mg of CBD was effective in improving sleep in a small group of patients. 

What don’t we know about CBD benefits?

There is still a lot to be learned. If CBD research was harvested like a hemp plant, we have only planted the seed with research. A growing set of CBD data is now developing for us to harvest the true CBD benefits and understand side effects with other medications. 

CBD Oil Side Effects

Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue, and irritability. To limit the side effects of CBD (also known as the biphasic effects) the right dosage is key. However, CBD dosage is different for every individual based on medical condition, condition severity, weight, experience with CBD, and even age. A good rule of thumb is, start low and go slowly. Meaning, start at a low dosage and titrate to a higher dosage slowly so that proper observation can take place for ideal results. CBD may also interact with current prescription medication and it is always best to speak with your doctor before taking CBD. 

The Endocannabinoid System

Now that we have discussed what the hemp plant is and how cannabinoids and terpenes fit into it, it’s important to understand how exactly CBD can have therapeutic effects with the human body. This is where the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) comes in.
The human body is composed of systems that have a job responsible for making our bodies function properly. The respiratory system allows us to breathe, the digestive system allows us to digest the food we eat, and the muscular and skeletal systems allow us to maintain our physical posture. 
While we have known about these systems for a very long time, it was only in 1992 that the endocannabinoid system was discovered by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. The endocannabinoid system’s role is to maintain balance throughout the systems in our body. Without the endocannabinoid system keeping all of our other systems in check, we would spike fevers, experience panic attacks, and we would not be able to regulate our digestion among many other things.

CB1 and CB2 Receptors

The endocannabinoid system works with receptors spread throughout the body. These receptors absorb cannabinoids between the two types – CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors
CB1 receptors are primarily in the brain and central nervous system. THC, not CBD, primarily interacts with these receptors. CB2 receptors are found in peripheral organs, especially cells associated with the immune system, and CBD has shown to primarily interact with these cells.
Think about a lock and key mechanism as a metaphor for the relationship between cannabinoids and the receptors of the ECS. CBD acts as the key to unlock the CB1 and CB2 receptors that open the pathways leading to homeostasis in the body.

CBDs role in balancing our bodies

Because cannabinoids are found within both the cannabis plant (phytocannabinoids- Phyto meaning “plant”) and within our bodies (endocannabinoids  – endo meaning “within”), the idea is if we are deficient in one of our cannabinoids in our body, we could supplement with cannabinoids found within cannabis to get us back to equilibrium.

CBD Products

We now know CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system – but it’s not that simple. Depending on the CBD product and method of consumption, the effect of CBD will change. The CBD product may have a different onset, duration, and overall effect depending on a variety of factors. It is important to know what CBD product is right for you by getting a trusted recommendation. Further, purchase CBD from  companies that are transparent about where the product is sourced from, how it’s extracted, and the results from 3rd party lab tests. 

CBD Legality

So if hemp and CBD hold so much value, why has it been illegal for more than half a century? It boils down to a complete misunderstanding and one of the most successful propaganda campaigns the world has ever seen. Negative stigmas forced on Mexican immigrants bringing cannabis to the US, hemp prohibition by powerful leaders competing for natural resources, and the War on Drugs put hemp under the same umbrella of a Schedule I drug as marijuana. Schedule I drugs are defined by the federal government as a chemical substance with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. These are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules and hold the potential for severe psychological or physical dependence. This gross misunderstanding put a stop to research that did not resume until 2014. Since 2014, we have seen a spike in hemp research that drove federal legalization of CBD in December of 2018. 

As discussed earlier – there is a distinct difference between hemp and marijuana. Hemp plants (Cannabis Sativa) have less than .3% THC, and marijuana comes in at more than .3% THC. Some states have legalized full recreational use for all cannabis (high THC included), others don’t even allow high THC cannabis to be available for medicinal purposes. Hemp (cannabis with less than .3% THC) and CBD are federally legal, but the law allows each state to run a hemp program to determine regulations unique to each state in the US. 


The bottom line on CBD

Before taking CBD oil, speak with your doctor first – you must know CBD won’t impact other medications you’re currently taking. Always look for the amount of CBD listed on the side of a product label and start with a low dosage. 3rd party lab tests showing all cannabinoids should be made available by a manufacturer before purchase and lab results need to be included in the product package. Going forward, we need more human studies about the medical benefits of CBD to understand the potential and limitations of using it within a health and wellness routine. Initial studies are promising and the hope is that more data can prove CBD efficacy for wellness conditions once and for all.