What is CBD?

By now, you’ve probably heard about CBD oil and maybe you have considered using products containing the cannabis compound. But you may be wondering — what is CBD, exactly?

There’s a lot of confusion out there about CBD. Considering the endocannabinoid system was only discovered approximately 25 years ago, we are just beginning to learn about cannabidiol and its possible abilities.

 That helps explain why so many people are becoming interested in CBD.

What Is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most abundant component of the Cannabis sativa plant species. It’s one of over 100 phytocannabinoids that have been identified in cannabis and hemp plants.

Unlike THC, the main constituent in cannabis, cannabidiol does not induce intoxicating effects. 

CBD is gaining a lot of attention lately, though.

 It is believed to interact with receptors throughout the endocannabinoid system in the body.

How Does Cannabidiol Work?

Scientists have discovered that there are cannabinoid-like chemicals inside the body that respond with receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system, a recently discovered body system that may be one of the most important physiologic systems involved in establishing and maintaining our health. We naturally synthesize these chemical compounds and they modulate receptors throughout the body.

What does this have to do with CBD? Remarkably, CBD and other cannabinoids also interact with these receptors. 

The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is a biochemical communication system in the body that was discovered about 25 years ago, when scientists were researching THC and the body. In their research, they uncovered a complex network of cannabinoid receptors that affect cells throughout the body, including the central nervous system.

We now know that our body naturally synthesizes what are called endogenous cannabinoids, which are chemical messengers that interact with these receptors. 

CBD vs. THC

CBD and THC are both compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant species and can be extracted to make hemp and cannabis products. There are hundreds of other compounds in cannabis, but these two get the most attention (at least for now).

But when it comes to CBD vs. THC, most people tend to ask the same question: What’s the difference?

Here’s the thing — CBD has been misrepresented as a non-psychoactive agent, when in fact, it’s actually psychoactive. However, the psychoactive effects caused by CBD do differ from those caused by THC, in the sense that CBD is non-intoxicating.

Larger amounts of THC can often lead to unwanted psychoactive effects, but some studies indicate that in smaller amounts, THC can be beneficial. This can be especially true when it’s used in combination with CBD, causing what’s called the “entourage effect.”

CBD Isolate vs. CBD Full Spectrum

If you’ve been checking out CBD product labels recently, you have probably noticed that some say “CBD isolate” and others are “full spectrum CBD.” So what’s the difference between CBD isolate vs. full spectrum CBD?

CBD isolate means that the cannabidiol products contains only CBD and no other cannabis compound. It’s been processed further than whole hemp extracts, isolating CBD to create a purified form of the compound. 

Full-spectrum and whole-plant CBD products include CBD and all other compounds found naturally in the plant. This means other cannabinoids (including trace amounts of THC), terpenes (which give the plant a distinct smell and flavor) and essential oils may be present.

CBD isolates used to be touted for their purity, but as more research is conducted, initial findings indicate that full spectrum CBD may have even greater potential. This is because the compounds found naturally in hemp or cannabis may have a compounding effect when they are used in combination.