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With recent surveys finding that over two-thirds of Americans have heard of CBD, it’s safe to say that it has entered the cultural awareness. If you haven’t heard of it, or if you have but you have questions about it, read on — our CBD primer might be just what you need. So let’s answer the question: What is CBD? School’s in session: CBD 101.


What is CBD exactly?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many compounds found in cannabis sativa (also known as hemp) plants. It can also be found in cannabis indica (marijuana) but in generally lesser amounts. Since the indica species often contains high amounts of THC in addition to CBD, it is not often used to make CBD products. 

CBD on its own has zero psychoactivity, meaning that it won’t make you high or interfere with your ability to function. 

Consumers can find CBD infused into a variety of products including edible treats like gummy bears, oils, and even skin creams and lotion.


What is CBD oil?

CBD oil is extracted from hemp plants. You may see different terms when looking at CBD oil including “broad-spectrum” and “full-spectrum” CBD and although they are slightly different, they are often used interchangeably.

Full spectrum CBD means that all of the compounds found in the cannabis plant are in the oil, including terpenes (which give cannabis its flavor and scents) and other cannabinoids (the collective name for the compounds found in the different species of cannabis). Keep in mind that one of the other cannabinoids is THC but in order for it to be a federally legal product, the percentage must be below .3%, hardly enough to get you high.  

Broad spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum since it also contains many cannabis compounds, but there’s an important distinction — it has been processed to remove all traces of THC. 

The highest quality products use CBD derived from hemp grown in the USA, we’ve seen Asian grown hemp products and they just don’t seem to be up to a reasonable standard. The method of consumption varies with the user — some prefer CBD oil or CBD vape cartridges or tasty edibles like CBD infused beverages and gummy candies. 


Does cannabidiol oil really work?

The question of the effectiveness of CBD oil is a tricky one. Since hemp, and therefore CBD, was classified as a Schedule I drug for basically all of the 20th century, research has been limited. The studies that have been done have generally shown positive outcomes and this initial promise has made researchers excited about investigating the various possibilities of the compound. There is preclinical evidence (meaning animal but not human studies have been done) in its role in psychiatric disorders ranging from schizophrenia to generalized anxiety disorder as well as for its role in reducing chemotherapy related nausea.

Millions of Americans use CBD on a regular basis and swear that it helps them but many of these stories are considered anecdotal, with no scientific backing. 

What is CBD? How Cannabidiol Oil works with the Endocannabinoid System | Happy Hemp CBD

How does CBD work?

It is believed that the reason CBD has any effect on the human body is due to the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is generally believed to play a role in the regulation of hormones (including the production of hormones that play a role in sleeping) as well regulating appetite and even the transmission of pain signals. The system is not fully understood but in the simplest possible terms it is comprised of endocannabinoids made by the body, receptors located throughout the brain and every major tissue of the body (including the skin), and enzymes to break down the excess. Researchers believe that since the body has its own system for dealing with endocannabinoids, the ECS explains both the psychoactive effects of THC and the potential for a benefit of CBD. 


Are there any benefits of Cannabidiol?

While there is little irrefutable evidence as to the benefit of consuming CBD products, the studies that have been done are intriguing to say the least. 

There is some evidence that CBD may help regulate the sleep-wake cycle and be useful in treating anxiety. This large case series concluded that in most of the studies, participants reported a decrease in anxiety after the first dose. 

This study  looked at the anti-anxiety properties of CBD in a highly specific setting — public speaking — and found that subjects had lower self-reported scores of stress as well as lower scores on objective measures like palm sweating and heart rate, indicating a possible benefit of CBD. 

The treatment of chemotherapy related nausea is one area where researchers are confident there is evidence supporting the use of CBD. The evidence was used as a springboard to develop a synthetic form of CBD used in conduction with THC to treat appetite disorders including AIDS wasting syndrome. 


Is CBD oil safe?

A 2017 review on the safety of CBD concluded that CBD is non-toxic and generally well tolerated . The authors were careful to note that further studies about chronic, long-term use, as well as studies designed to investigate how CBD may interact with critical systems, like hormones, are also needed. CBD has no known abuse potential.

Keep in mind that “generally well-tolerated” does not mean free of any side effects. There may be drug interactions, similar to the compounds in grapefruit and milk interfering with a specific drugs absorption. There is also anecdotal evidence for side effects including diarrhea. 

The FDA has approved a synthetic form of CBD (Epidolex) but it is important to note that none of the commercially available CBD products have been evaluated by the FDA and are therefore not intended to be used to diagnose or treat any illness. 


 Is CBD oil legal?

The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the definition of marajuana in the Controlled Substances Act. Prior to this change, hemp was classified as marajuana and, therefore was listed as a Schedule I  drug. The same bill clarified the definition of hemp as having less than .3 percent THC. Since the removal of hemp from the CSA meant that the possibility of federal prosecution for ‘drug’ related offenses was no longer an option, many have interpreted this to mean that CBD is legal. 

Want to learn more about CBD? Read more on our blog or learn more specifically about CBD Gummies here.

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