What is CBD Oil? A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabidiol Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects

Updated on September 23, 2019 While all product recommendations are chosen independently, we may receive compensation for purchases made through our site. Learn more about our affiliate program here.

Have you been hearing about CBD oil but aren’t sure of exactly what it is or how it could help you?

CBD is becoming extremely popular across the country and world. People use it for sleep, pain relief, anxiety, and many other applications. But what is CBD, and how can it help you?

CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol. It’s one of the many active cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Commercially available CBD products are almost always derived from industrial hemp, and not marijuana – although CBD can be found in all varieties of cannabis.

Before using CBD, it’s important to understand how it can potentially help you. Equally important is learning about any potential risks associated with its use.

If you’ve been thinking about buying CBD oil but aren’t sure where to start, this article will help clarify dosages, administration, and any tools you need to make an informed decision regarding CBD oil and your body.

What is CBD Oil?

CBD oil

CBD oil is a health supplement manufactured from cannabidiol, a compound found in cannabis and industrial hemp. The term “CBD oil” can refer to packaged CBD extracts mixed with various carrier oils, but it is also used to reference CBD itself.

CBD is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Over 100 cannabinoids have been discovered so far, each with their own effects and applications. Cannabidiol, or CBD, was the second compound isolated in the cannabis plant—found in 1963 by researchers Mechoulam and Shvo. It also happens to be considered one of the most useful compounds in the cannabis plant.

Cannabidiol is one of the primary compounds in marijuana that provides therapeutic effects. However, it is not psychoactive, meaning it does not cause a euphoric “high” (unlike THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana). This is one reason that CBD shows such a high potential for therapeutic value: It may help to relieve the symptoms of chronic pain, sleep disorders, anxiety, cancer, and more, but it does not cause intoxication.

Are CBD Products Made from Hemp or Marijuana?

Much of the CBD used medicinally around the world comes from the hemp plant, and not from psychoactive marijuana. Any CBD products that you can find online will be made exclusively from industrial hemp, and will contain only trace amounts of THC.

If you live in an area that has legalized marijuana, then you may also be able to find marijuana-derived CBD products. These products will likely also contain THC, making them potentially psychoactive. Marijuana-derived CBD products are generally only legal in states with specific legislation on cannabis products, while hemp-derived CBD oils are available nationwide.

For therapeutic uses, many people prefer hemp-derived CBD products, as they do not cause intoxication. They are also more widely available, both online and even in some health-food stores. You can find more information on the differences between hemp and marijuana in a later section.

How is CBD Oil Made?

CBD oil is extracted from industrial hemp plants. Not all hemp varieties are rich in CBD, so cultivators breed specific strains to offer very high CBD concentrations alongside very low THC levels.

Most CBD-rich hemp is grown in a handful of US states that have been proactive in passing pro-hemp legislation. Colorado and Kentucky were the two largest producers in 2018, but more states are catching up as the industry expands.

The process to actually extract CBD oil from plants involves harvesting the flowers and leaves, drying them, and extracting using some sort of solvent. CO2 is the most commonly used solvent, and it’s also considered the cleanest. Chemical solvents and alcohol can also be used.

The dried hemp flowers and leaves are ground into a fine powder to aid extraction. Solvents are applied, either at a high pressure (common with CO2 extraction) or a slow soak (alcohol/methanol extraction) to draw out the CBD and other cannabinoids.

Depending on the specific goal of the manufacturer, a further process called winterization may then take place. Winterization subjects the extracted CBD oil to cold temperatures, which helps to separate the fatty acids and lipids. This helps to preserve the ideal chemical make-up for CBD oil, and also helps improve shelf life.

The CBD oil is then analyzed for potency and cannabinoid content, usually by a third-party lab. Labs will test for levels of CBD and other cannabinoids, terpenes, and any potential contaminants. And most importantly, the oil is tested for THC content. In order to be sold legally as a health supplement, the finished CBD oil must test at less than 0.3% THC.

At this point, the CBD oil is a thick consistency with a dark color and an earthy, grassy taste. It can now be mixed with carrier oils to create oral tinctures, or used to manufacture various products, such as CBD oil capsules, ointments, vape oil cartridges, and more.

This is the basic process of how CBD is made – but keep in mind that methods do vary depending on the goals of the manufacturer. For instance, some CBD companies produce full spectrum CBD oil, which contains most of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant. Others seek to manufacture CBD isolate oil, which strips out the other cannabinoids and terpenes, leaving just cannabidiol.


CBD is not the same thing as THC, although both are cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The main difference between THC and CBD is that CBD is not psychoactive, unlike the well-known cannabinoid THC, or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol.

The World Health Organization defines psychoactive drugs as: “…substances that, when taken in or administered into one’s system, affect mental processes, e.g., cognition or effect.”

In plain terms, this means that psychoactive drugs cause a high, or intoxicate you. Since CBD is not psychoactive, it will not significantly alter your state of mind or make you feel “high” when used.

CBD and THC work differently in your body’s endocannabinoid system, producing different effects. While THC can cause a euphoric “high”, CBD will not.

This is one reason why CBD is so beneficial for various therapeutic uses. It can be used freely without worry of intoxication or clouded judgement. CBD products are used by millions of people daily, and many appreciate the fact that they can go about their daily lives without interference.

Hemp vs. Marijuana

Both hemp and marijuana come from the same plant (Cannabis sativa), which creates a fair amount of confusion. However, there are big differences between these two varieties of the same plant family.

Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that is smoked, vaporized or consumed for both recreational and medicinal applications. Marijuana contains high concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. Commonly referred to as “weed”, marijuana is a popular recreational drug, and it’s also widely used to address medical concerns including insomnia, depression, eating disorders and more.

Hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa that has a very low THC content, making it non-psychoactive. While marijuana is largely used for recreational and medicinal applications, hemp is mostly used for industrial purposes. Hemp can be used for a wide variety of applications, including the manufacture of paper, textiles, construction materials, food products, and of course, CBD oil.

The legal distinction between hemp and marijuana is based on the plant’s THC content. A Cannabis sativa plant with more than 0.3% THC is considered a marijuana plant, while varieties with less than 0.3% THC are considered industrial hemp. The same 0.3 percent THC level restriction is used for CBD oil, too.

To comply with this legal limit and produce the highest quality CBD products possible, modern hemp growers develop strains that produce as much CBD as possible, while minimizing THC content. Hemp crops in the US are tested frequently to ensure that compliance with federal THC restrictions is maintained.

On the other hand, marijuana producers often seek to maximize THC content. High grade cannabis from marijuana plants can easily exceed 35% THC, compared to the less than 0.3% found in industrial hemp.

CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

Many of the beneficial effects of CBD are caused by its interactions with the endocannabinoid system, a recently-discovered biological system in humans, mammals, reptiles and other vertebrates. The system interacts with endocannabinoids, which are produced naturally in the human body, and serves a variety of important roles. The primary function of endocannabinoids is to help maintain bodily homeostasis, which refers to maintaining biological harmony in response to changes in the environment. In other words, endocannabinoids help to keep us relatively calm and biologically functional in changing environments and during times of stress. The endocannabinoid system is essentially a regulator of our behaviors and energy balances.

The endocannabinoid system is at least partially involved in a huge variety of biological processes, including sleep, stress, pain, metabolism, mood, memory and more. Cannabinoid receptors, which interact with endocannabinoids and make up the bulk of this biological system, are found all over the body. Cannabinoid receptors can be found in the brain, connective tissues, skin, heart, intestines, and more.

The three main components of the endocannabinoid system are cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body, endocannabinoids themselves (small molecules that activate the cannabinoid receptors on the cells), and metabolic enzymes, which break down endocannabinoids after use. Cannabinoids such as CBD attach to receptors in our bodies known as CB1 and CB2 receptors, and each cannabinoid affects the body in different ways.

Fascinatingly, it appears that cannabinoids – the compounds such as CBD and THC that are found in cannabis – mimic these naturally-occurring endocannabinoids which our bodies already produce. It was actually the cannabis plant that led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (which is now named after cannabis). Scientists who sought to study the various therapeutic effects of marijuana first encountered the endocannabinoid system in the 1990s, and the discovery was a significant breakthrough for medical science.

The discovery of this system was hugely important to our understanding of human health. As one clinical trial editor put it, “The endogenous cannabinoid system—named for the plant that led to its discovery—is one of the most important physiologic systems involved in establishing and maintaining human healththe endocannabinoids are literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding this system, we begin to see a mechanism that could connect brain activity and states of physical health and disease”.

Many aspects of the system are still being studied, but suffice it to say that the discovery of the endocannabinoid system was a massive breakthrough in our understanding of our own biological processes.

Until the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, very little was known about why cannabis caused therapeutic effects on the body and mind. Today, research conducted on the endocannabinoid system has helped researchers increase our understanding of the positive attributes of CBD and other cannabinoids.

CBD Benefits and Uses

CBD has many potential uses and positive effects on the body and mind. Millions of people worldwide use CBD products for pain, anxiety, sleep, and much more.

Due to the legal prohibition of cannabis over the years, many attributes of CBD have not been fully studied in clinical trials. However, recent legislation has allowed for more in-depth clinical studies than ever before. Recently, even the U.S. government has funded some clinical trials.

CBD is quickly becoming a widely-accepted product for therapeutic purposes. Just this year, CBD was taken off the list of banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and in June of 2018 the FDA approved the first medication with CBD oil in it, a drug for severe epilepsy. There are also more studies being conducted on the efficacy of CBD oil each year, as the medical community seeks to understand more about this fascinating cannabinoid.

What is CBD Used For?

Cannabis has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for many things. While studies are ongoing, there is some scientific evidence and a lot of anecdotal evidence of how CBD oil has helped people who suffer from both physical and mental illnesses.

CBD Benefits for Physical Health

Here are some physical conditions CBD may be helpful for, and how.

Note: CBD is not FDA approved for any medical treatments aside from one very specific form of epilepsy. This page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or treat any medical condition.


CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and may help in the management of pain after injury or illness. It can also help to reduce symptoms in sufferers of chronic pain disorders. A clinical review of research studies found that helped to produce improvements in reported pain levels when patients were given cannabinoids, including CBD. Animal studies have also shown positive results. CBD administered orally was found to be an effective therapeutic agent in countering inflammation and neuropathic pain in rats, while another found that CBD reduced pain response in rats after a surgical incision.


CBD may be beneficial in managing the symptoms of cancer, as well as the side effects of common cancer treatments. It is thought to be helpful in managing pain and inflammation related symptoms, which are common in cancer patients. Additionally, studies have found that CBD and other cannabinoids are helpful in managing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and may also help to improve appetite. Additionally, CBD is being studied because it is believed to help with the modulation of different steps of tumorigenesis (the formation of tumors) in several different types of cancer. Some studies have found that cannabidiol may even have anti-cancer properties, as one study found that CBD induced the death of breast cancer cells in a test-tube study. More research is needed to explore CBD’s anti-cancer properties, but findings so far are promising.

Cardiovascular Health

CBD may be beneficial for cardiovascular health. One study found that a single dose of cannabidiol helped to reduce blood pressure in healthy patients. The results of another study showed that CBD might have a high therapeutic effect for patients with diabetes and other cardiovascular disorders by addressing inflammation, cell death, fibrosis, and more. CBD may also have stress and anxiety-reducing effects, which can further reduce blood pressure and potentially improve heart health.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

CBD has been shown to reduce intestinal inflammation through the control of the neuroimmune system. It may be beneficial for IBS.

Multiple Sclerosis

CBD may be beneficial for chronic pain, such as that which people with MS suffer from. With its anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing properties, those who suffer from chronic muscle or joint pain may find relief from CBD oil.

Seizures and Epilepsy

CBD is beneficial in the treatment of some forms of epilepsy, and may help to reduce the frequency of seizures. In fact, epilepsy is the only condition that CBD has received FDA approval to treat medically. The U.S. FDA approved the first medication with CBD as the active ingredient for epilepsy in June 2018.


Clinical findings suggest that CBD may be beneficial for acne. One study found that “due to the combined lipostatic, antiproliferative, and anti-inflammatory effects, CBD has potential as a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of acne vulgaris.” CBD’s effects on acne can largely be attributed to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Brain Health

CBD is thought to have neuroprotective properties that may help to keep our minds active and healthy. Cannabidiol is a well-established method for treating the symptoms of neurological diseases (like epilepsy and MS), and researchers are exploring CBD’s potentially in addressing other neurological conditions. Several studies have looked at patients with Parkinson’s disease, finding positive results in both sleep quality and overall quality of life. Some research has also shown promise in CBD’s effects on patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Many of these uses require further research, however.

Keep in mind that many studies have used a combination of cannabinoids (CBD and THC, generally), so results may not be the same using solely CBD. Additionally, many of the effects of CBD have not been fully explored. More research is needed.

CBD Benefits for Mental Health

Note: CBD is not FDA approved for the treatment of any mental health condition. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any health condition. Consult with your mental health provider before making any changes to your treatment regimen.

CBD oil may be beneficial for mental health, and may help to address conditions including:


CBD may be beneficial for general anxiety, as well as specific anxiety conditions such as social anxiety disorder (SAD). In one interesting study, patients diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, who had never been on medication before, were given either CBD or a placebo and then told to do a simulated public speaking test. The results showed that the use of CBD reduced the anxiety of patients. Animal studies have shown similar results, with one study on rats showing reduced stress and general anxiety levels after CBD application.


CBD may benefit some people suffering from depression, although more research is needed. The conclusion of one study found that patients given CBD experienced effects similar to those of using an antidepressant. However, a 2017 review of clinical research concluded that there was insufficient evidence to consider CBD an effective treatment option for depression – so this is one area that needs much more research.


Several recent studies have looked at cannabidiol’s effects on PTSD symptoms, and many have found positive results. The National Institute on Drug Abuse even gave permission for an FDA-approved research study to test the effects of both cannabis and CBD on military veterans with diagnosed PTSD. This study is still ongoing, but the fact that the US government approved an official clinical trial on the subject is very promising.

Sleep Disorders

CBD may help improve sleep quality for patients with certain sleep disorders. It has been found to modulate waking by the activation of neurons in the body’s hypothalamus and DRD. Additionally, CBD may assist with REM sleep behavior disorders and excessive daytime sleepiness, and is beneficial in countering insomnia. It may be beneficial for sleep in general, as explained in a section below.

Some studies have used a combination of CBD and other cannabinoids, so it’s difficult to isolate the effects of cannabidiol. Also, keep in mind that the effects of cannabidiol vary from person to person. For example, some people may experience anxiety as a side-effect of CBD, while others find that CBD helps their anxiety. It’s important to discuss your options with a qualified medical professional.

CBD Clinical Studies & The Research Gap

There is evidence to suggest that people have been using cannabis medicinally since at least 2900 B.C.. However, we are just now beginning to understand cannabis’ effects on the body – and even today, there are still large gaps in our knowledge of this fascinating plant.

Much of this so-called “research gap” can be attributed to the complicated legal history of cannabis. Because cannabis has been federally illegal in the United States since the 1930s, medical research on the plant has been slowed significantly.

The legal status of marijuana and cannabinoids themselves has put up huge barriers to conducting medical research. Unfortunately, this has slowed progress on our understanding of the plant and its therapeutic potential.

On the positive side, attitudes towards CBD and cannabis, in general, are loosening significantly. Recent legislation has made it easier for universities and clinical researchers to increase the volume of cannabis-related studies. And the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada has opened the doors for unobstructed medical research on a nationwide level.

What this all means is just this: CBD is not yet fully understood, but clinical researchers are hard at work exploring this interesting cannabinoid. At this point, much of the data we have about cannabidiol’s benefits is anecdotal – but it’s quite likely that we will know much more in the coming years.

CBD and Sleep

As you can see, CBD has significant and varied uses and benefits to many people. One area that deserves more attention is CBD’s effects on sleep quality.

Cannabidiol may help improve sleep in a number of ways. The most important effect will vary from person to person, as several different conditions that CBD may help to address can significantly affect sleep quality.

For instance, CBD has been shown to help reduce anxiety, which may help anxiety sufferers fall asleep more easily. For those with chronic pain, the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD could help them fall asleep with less pain. Patients with PTSD may find improvements in sleep quality, due to CBD’s effects on PTSD symptoms. And those with specific neurological disorders may also experience improved sleep quality, as demonstrated by this study on patients with Parkinson’s disease.

In addition to addressing specific chronic health concerns that can reduce sleep quality, CBD may also have general slumber-boosting properties. For instance, CBD can help regulate REM sleep, potentially giving users better quality sleep in general. Cannabidiol has also been found to interact with the brain receptors that help regulate the sleep/wake cycle.

In many cases, the relaxing effects of CBD allow patients to have better sleep overall by reducing stress, fighting pain and inflammation and working to address the underlying health concerns causing sleep disruptions.

It should also be noted that CBD does not generally cause drowsiness in the daytime. In fact, medicinal CBD in small doses may actually help with staying awake during the day for those who experience excessive sleepiness during waking hours.

When deciding on whether to use CBD oil for your own sleeping issues, remember that CBD is not going to cause a “high” or alter your mental abilities. This means that you may not have an immediate feeling of noticing it working or “feeling different.” It also means that you can go about your daily life without worrying about drowsiness or significant side effects.

When starting to take CBD for sleeping, it is generally recommended to start with a very small dose, such as 10 mg, and simply up the dosage by small amounts until you get the effect you want. Doses anywhere from 10 mg to 600 mg and even higher are observed during scientific studies, and no official dosage recommendations exist. See our “how to take CBD” section below for more details.

Risks of CBD

As with any alternative remedy, medicine, supplement, or treatment, it’s very important to understand the potential risks of taking CBD oil. There are risks involved when starting any new treatment. Fortunately, CBD side effects are generally very mild, and most people experience little to no negative side effects. For a list of potential CBD side effects, see the section below.

When adverse effects are reported, it is often a result of extremely high doses of pure CBD concentrate. Even though CBD is not an intoxicant, some users ingest very high doses, which is more likely to have a metabolic effect on your body. For best results, start with a small dose and slowly increase it as-needed. Always consult a doctor before using CBD or any other remedy. See the “how to take CBD oil” section below for more details.

In addition to the potential side effects, interactions with other medications are possible. Because CBD and many medications are metabolized by the same set of liver enzymes, some experts believe that CBD may interact with various prescription medications. Unfortunately, no definitive clinical data exists on the interaction between cannabidiol and various medications. If you take any prescription medications, you should speak with your doctor about the potential for drug interactions with cannabidiol.

We do have clearer data on the interaction between cannabis itself and various medications. In patients who use cannabis along with other pharmaceutical drugs, studies have found that there were few reported negative side effects which could be linked to interactions with other medications. Even so, some drug interactions were noted, so caution is advised.

Overall, there are some risks involved with taking CBD, just like any other dietary supplement, home remedy or medication. The risks are higher for those taking certain prescription medications, pregnant women, and patients self-administering very large doses of cannabidiol. However, the overall risks associated with CBD are considered to be mild, and most users do not experience any significant adverse effects.

CBD and Pregnancy

Pregnant women should always exercise caution with the dietary supplements and medications they use. CBD use is no different.

At this time, experts recommend that pregnant women avoid the use of marijuana products, including CBD. A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics warned of a potential for disruptions in child development as a result of cannabis use.

One study singled out CBD itself as potentially dangerous for the development of a healthy fetus. Researchers noted that oral CBD use increased the permeability of the placental barrier, which could potentially allow harmful substances to affect the developing fetus. CBD itself was not found to be harmful – however, it could potentially increase the risk of other substances (such as prescription medications) disrupting the healthy development of the child.

Pregnant women should avoid the use of CBD and other cannabis products until more research has been conducted on the potential risks.

Can You Overdose on CBD?

No, you can not overdose on Cannabidiol. CBD and other cannabinoids have been proven to be non-toxic, and right now there are no known fatal or overdose levels which have ever been reported.

CBD Side Effects

There are some reported side effects of CBD oil, although they are generally mild. As with any other supplement, home remedy or medication, side effects are always possible and will vary from person to person.

In several studies on CBD and epilepsy and psychotic disorders, the most commonly reported side effects included:

  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Psychosis
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness

Despite the above listed potential side effects, a review of clinical data found that the side effects of CBD used for certain applications were less severe than side effects from common medications used to treat those same health conditions. In other words, CBD may be a viable alternative to some medications that have a high potential for side effects.

Because CBD has not been fully evaluated in clinical trials, it is possible that other potential side effects exist. At this point in time, CBD is generally considered to be safe to use with minimal risks or side effects.

CBD oil and other cannabinoids are not 100% legal in the United States. Laws vary depending on the state you live in. The legality of CBD oil also depends on how it was produced.

CBD oil derived from hemp (which must have less than 0.3% THC to be considered hemp) is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. However, some states have laws restricting the use of CBD products, even if they are derived from hemp.

CBD oil derived from marijuana (Cannabis sativa plants containing more than 0.3% THC), on the other hand, is federally illegal. These products are much more restricted and are only available in medical marijuana dispensaries and cannabis retail stores in states with recreational marijuana laws.

If the product is derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% THC, you can buy it legally under federal law. All CBD oil products sold online are derived from hemp and tested to meet the 0.3% THC limit. Most CBD ecommerce retailers ship to all US states, but you should still check state laws in your area.

As mentioned, state laws surrounding cannabis products vary. According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 33 states plus Washington DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico have medical marijuana and medicinal cannabis by-products programs, and 13 states have separate laws allowing “low THC, high CBD” products for medicinal or recreational use.

The only states or territories with absolutely no public cannabis access programs at all are Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, and American Samoa.

Photo: http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx

Every state in the U.S. has different regulations. For example, Louisiana has legalized medical marijuana, but it cannot be smoked. It can be used in oils, ointments, and topical applications. Alabama and Mississippi allow medical marijuana, but only for specific and severe epilepsy. It’s important to check laws in your state for specifics.

At the federal level, marijuana and its extracts that contain THC are still considered Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act. There have been measures put into place to allow states to make their own regulations, but it is important to realize that it is still not legal at the federal level.

Cannabis laws are complex and convoluted. However, as an individual interested in CBD use, here’s what you need to know: CBD products derived from hemp, and containing less than 0.3% THC, are legal in most states. CBD oil is widely available online, in health food stores and increasingly at mainstream retailers such as Kroger. Although laws are complex, penalties for individual CBD users are exceedingly rare and should not be a concern for responsible users.

How to Take CBD Oil

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the best way to take CBD oil, the proper dosages to follow, etc. Unfortunately, no official dosage guidelines exist. It’s recommended to consult with your medical doctor before using CBD products. The section below is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.

Here are the four ways to use CBD:

  • Topically (on the skin)
  • Ingesting (eating/drinking)
  • Inhaling it (vaping)
  • Sublingually (putting it under your tongue)

Topical Application (Creams & Salves)

You can use CBD-infused creams, lotions, and salves on your skin to help relieve joint and muscle pain. Because it is on your skin, the CBD oil is only absorbed into the topmost layer of your body’s cells in that area, and the CBD does not get into your bloodstream or affect the rest of your body. This is a great way to assist with muscle and joint pain in a very targeted area and with very minimal risk of side effects.

Ingesting CBD Oil (Capsules & Edibles)

Eating or taking a pill is generally considered to be the easiest way to take CBD oil. If you want to use CBD oil for sleeping, taking it orally is generally considered the best method. CBD edibles and capsules also offer the benefit of a highly controlled dose.

Types of ingestible CBD include:

  • Pills/capsules
  • Candy
  • Gummies
  • Baked goods
  • CBD-infused butter or olive oil
  • Sodas and juices

Because CBD can be infused into butter and olive oil, you can cook with it or add it to any other foods.

Inhaling CBD Oil (Vape Juices and Vape Pens)

Using a vape (vaporizer) pen and inhaling CBD vapor will bypass the liver and enter the bloodstream rapidly. Inhaling the CBD oil by vaping is a very efficient method of ingesting it, as it gets into your bloodstream rapidly. However, the effects of CBD vape products are shorter-lived than ingested products, meaning you will have to vape more frequently compared to other methods.

Also, it should be noted that while vaping pure CBD is considered to be safe, some vape products may contain potentially harmful ingredients. Thinning agents such as propylene glycol are commonly used in CBD vape oils, and emerging research suggests that these additives could be potentially carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.

Taking CBD Sublingually (Tinctures & Concentrates)

Some pure CBD oils, concentrates, and tinctures can be placed directly under the tongue. The CBD is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the mucous membranes and bypasses the digestive system and liver. This is considered an effective method for taking CBD oil and is one of the most popular.

To take CBD sublingually, simply hold the CBD oil under your tongue for about 90 seconds, and then swallow. CBD oils generally have an earthy, grassy taste that some people may find unpleasant – if this is the case for you, flavored oils are available.

CBD Dosage Guidelines

If you’re wondering how much CBD to take, the answer is not so straightforward. No official dosage guidelines exist, unfortunately. Leafly recently interviewed a neuroscientist on the subject, but even he was hesitant to recommend a specific dosage, noting that many different factors can affect the ideal CBD dosage.

Experts generally recommend starting with very low amounts, and slowly working your way up as needed. Following manufacturer’s recommendations is a good place to start. Read the included instructions on your CBD products carefully, and start with the lowest dose possible to see how CBD affects you.

Frequently Asked Questions

There’s a lot to learn about cannabidiol and its effects on the body. If you still have questions after reading the guide above, here are some answers to commonly asked questions.

Does CBD get you high?

In short, no. CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it does not cause a “high”. THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis that causes a euphoric high, but CBD oils contain very low concentrations of THC. All the widely available CBD products are federally mandated to contain less than 0.3% THC, which is not enough to get you high.

With that said, if you purchase CBD oil at a medical marijuana dispensary or a cannabis retail store, it’s possible that it would contain higher amounts of THC, potentially causing a high. CBD itself does not get you high, however.

Will CBD show up on a drug test?

CBD is generally not a compound that is screened for on drug tests. Tests designed to detect marijuana usage generally focus on THC. Since CBD oils contain extremely low amounts of THC, it’s unlikely that CBD oil would cause you to fail a drug test. Nonetheless, the possibility does exist.

Researchers have warned that CBN, another cannabinoid, may show up on drug tests. CBN could be found in CBD oils, and particularly in full-spectrum extracts.

While unlikely, it is entirely possible that CBD oil could cause you to fail a drug test. If you know you may be subjected to drug screening, it’s recommended to avoid the use of CBD products.

What’s the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil?

CBD oil, hemp oil, hemp seed oil, etc. are all terms that are commonly confused.

“CBD oil” refers to the dietary supplement discussed in this article, which is used as an alternative home remedy for a variety of health concerns.

“Hemp seed oil” is a cooking ingredient extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant, which generally contain little to no CBD. Hemp seed oil is commonly used in salad dressings and other prepared food products, as well as skincare products. It’s popular for its pleasant taste and beneficial fat profile, but it has no therapeutic effects beyond its nutritional value.

“Hemp oil” generally refers to hemp seed oil, but it’s sometimes used to refer to CBD oil and other hemp-derived products. Be sure to check product labels carefully to fully understand what you are buying.

What’s the best way to take CBD?

The best way to take CBD depends on your lifestyle and your intended use for the supplement. Sublingual tinctures and capsules are the most popular methods, but it really depends on your preferences.

For pain relief in specific areas, CBD topicals are excellent. Topicals provide the easiest way to target specific areas of your body.

For all other applications, the best method is the one that’s most convenient for your lifestyle.

Can you travel with CBD products?

Caution is advised when traveling with CBD products, due to the complex nature of cannabis laws. You should not travel internationally with CBD, as crossing international borders with any sort of cannabis product is prohibited.

When crossing state lines, be sure to reference laws in each relevant state. When flying with CBD products, caution is advised. The TSA officially allows hemp-derived CBD products to be taken on airplanes, but there have still been reports of confiscations and other hassles at airport checkpoints.

Is CBD beneficial for pets?

Many people use cannabidiol products for their animals. It’s particularly popular with dog owners, although cats and other household pets may also benefit. The research on CBD use for animals is fairly thin, but anecdotal reports are positive. CBD may help pets with separation anxiety, joint pain, appetite issues, and more – although this is an area that needs a lot more research.

Cannabidiol is a fascinating compound that may have significant therapeutic value for a wide variety of health concerns. Although more medical trials are needed to explore the uses of this cannabinoid, the evidence we have so far is overwhelmingly positive.

Because CBD affects different people in different ways, and because it can be used for a variety of applications, it’s difficult to know if CBD will work for you without actually testing it out. The good news is that CBD has a very low potential for side effects, and is generally well-tolerated and safe for the majority of people. And since it’s widely available from online retailers, there is nothing stopping you from trying CBD out for yourself.

If you’re interested in trying CBD, we recommend speaking to your doctor first. Then, head over to our best CBD oils page to find the best products available today!


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