What is CBD Oil? Cannabidiol Basics 101

What is CBD? To start, CBD is one of many substances currently in the news for its health benefits. You are constantly seeing ads for MCT, kratom, cloves, copaiba, and greens supplements, just to name a few. You see so much information on different products it’s hard to know the truth.

Our goal at Plant Driven Health is to cut through the noise and give you factual information you can use.

In this beginners guide to CBD you’ll find the basic information on CBD, plus links to many other articles we’ve written that go deeper into specifics on CBD!

Let’s start with the most basic question possible; What is CBD?


What is CBD?

CBD is an acronym for the compound Cannabidiol. This is a naturally occurring substance found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. Cannabis itself has a long, rich history of being used for its medicinal properties, but only in much more recent times have individual compounds, like CBD, have been looked at for their individual effectiveness.

The individual compounds in cannabis are known as “phytocannabinoids” that are unique to the plant and provide its therapeutic benefits. CBD is just one of over a hundred of these substances.

You have probably already heard of one of the other compounds in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC gives the cannabis plant the psychoactive effects that result in the “high” the plant is notorious for.

Both THC and CBD have significant medicinal benefits, but unlike THC, CBD does not produce the “high” feeling due to the differences in the interaction it has with the body.


Where Does CBD Come From?

As we already stated, CBD comes from cannabis. There are hundreds, if not thousands of different strains of the plant, all with varying quantities of the various phytocannabinoids.

The commercially available CBD products that you find in your local store and at online retailers all come from the hemp plant. This is a specialized strain that is rich in CBD and exceptionally low in THC.

In fact, the 2018 Farm Bill gave hemp its own classification, separating it from marijuana and other strains of cannabis. This bill legalized the growth and manufacture of hemp, which was the first major legal win for CBD.

The legal limit for THC in a hemp plant is 0.3%. This ensures that hemp plants will have no psychoactive effects and will not result in a ‘high’.

Once the crops are grown the plant goes through a manufacturing process to remove the CBD oil from the rest of the plant matter. This extraction process has improved greatly over the last 10 years. The best companies now use a supercritical CO2 extraction process that is extremely clean.

The amount of processing the plant goes through before the final product is available depends on the type of product being produced. There are three major CBD product categories, each requiring a different level of purification.

Full Spectrum CBD is basically an oil form of the hemp plant, everything you’d find in the plant is in the oil. This includes the trace amounts of THC, other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. Broad Spectrum is the same thing, without the THC. Because the THC is pulled out of these products they are often advertised as 0% THC or THC Free oils. Lastly, CBD Isolate is a product with everything except for the CBD stripped away.

Read more about the Types of CBD Products:


How Does CBD Work?

Cannabis has been used for generations for its medicinal properties, but all of the evidence of its uses are anecdotal, not scientific. This goes for CBD even more so, as the compound was not even on the scientific radar until recently.

CBD, THC and many other compounds in cannabis are classified as cannabinoids. In the early 90s, researchers found similar compounds in the body. These compounds, and the receptors that go with it, were named the endocannabinoid system.

Early studies have shown that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in maintaining homeostasis on chemical levels and physiological processes including mood, energy level, the digestive track, immune activity, how we experience pain, and stress.

When one of these functions is ‘off’, the endocannabinoid system acts through receptors throughout the body to regulate and repair this.

This is where CBD comes in. CBD works by activating, modulating, and strengthening the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) that regulate bodily functions.

Because the endocannabinoid system is involved throughout the body, its increased functionality potentially could help fight or treat any disease! Pal Pacher and George Kunos from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), were quoted “modulating endocannabinoid system activity may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans.”


What is CBD Used For?

As we just said, CBD works to enhance the regulatory functions of the endocannabinoid system. This means that CBD could potentially work to treat most, if not all, conditions that the average person would suffer from.

Some of the popular uses for CBD in the early days of its use have been pain and inflammation, stress, mood control, and sleep.

We have grouped these articles under the conditions section of the site, so you can go there to read all of our research. You can also use the search function to read up on exactly the condition you’re looking for.

These broad categories are just scratching the surface of CBD’s possible uses though, and much of the information on this site is about using CBD to treat different medical conditions.

Read More About using CBD for Different Conditions:

Pharmaceutical CBD

As of the writing of this article, CBD is generally not regulated or approved by any major government agency, most notably the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The one notable exception, and a case that generates a lot of excitement in the CBD industry, is a medicine known as Epidiolex.

This pharmaceutical grade CBD product was developed and approved by the FDA for use on two rare but severe pediatric seizure disorders.

While this is one product approved for a very specific disease it opens up the potential for a slew of other CBD based products to be approved and gain wider acceptance in the medical field!


Ways to Take CBD

CBD brands were already quickly developing new products before the 2018 Farm Bill was passed and that growth has only increased since.

CBD Oils

CBD started out as just an oil. That is the natural state that extraction from the hemp plant leads to and it’s easy to take in this form. All you have to do is place a dropper full of CBD Oil under your tongue, and the mucus membranes there absorb the oil directly into the bloodstream!

Many early consumers voiced complaints about the sublingual method of ingestion, often in relation to the taste of CBD oil which tends to be woodsy and bitter.

This led to the development of the other popular types of CBD, Vaping, Topicals and Edibles

Vaping CBD

The quickest way to get CBD into your bloodstream, vaping CBD is a great option for anyone who already uses vape products.

When vaping CBD it travels directly into your lungs and is absorbed into the bloodstream there. Because the CBD doesn’t have to be digested or broken down, this is by far the fastest way to get the benefits of CBD.

Maybe more so than the other forms of CBD, buying from a trusted vendor is extremely important with vapes. Low quality vape products are notorious for having toxins and harmful chemicals in them.

Topical CBD Products

Topicals are quickly becoming the go to method of CBD for many athletes and chronic pain sufferers.

Simply apply the lotion, cream, salve, balm or patch directly to the joint or muscle that is in pain or sore and the CBD quickly works to sooth the area.

CBD Edibles

Anyone who has researched CBD has probably run across CBD edibles by now. Fun gummy shapes are everywhere, and many already take other vitamins in this form.

Edibles have the benefit of exact dosing, although the bioavailability of these products tends to be lower than other methods of taking CBD.


Buying Quality CBD Oil

Right now, CBD is almost completely unregulated and almost in a “Wild West” state. Nothing is stopping companies from selling a low grade vegetable oil with a fancy label as a CBD product.

We have a list of CBD brands we trust that you can look at, but when looking into a brand you are not familiar with there are a few things you can look for to ensure quality.

Organic, Home Grown Hemp

Unless you are using pharmaceutical grade CBD, the product you are using came from the hemp plant. This means you want your CBD to come from the best, most organic, purest farming methods possible.

Buying from a company that grows hemp in America and uses organic farming practices is a great start. Companies are starting become verified through organizations like the U.S. Hemp Authority that helps regulate quality.

3rd Party Lab Tests

As a response to poor quality or fake CBD products flooding the market in the last 5 years many companies have made it regular practice to send some of each batch of their product to an independent lab to get tested.

This gives you great detail into what is actually in the CBD Oil you are taking and allows the company to be transparent and prove the quality of their product.

If a company does not have 3rd party test results available or is selling their oils significantly cheaper than what you are seeing elsewhere, you probably want to avoid that company!