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What is CBD Oil?

Updated May 5, 2020

CBD infused desserts, oils, lotions, coffee, and add in boosters for after workout smoothies are everywhere. You can’t turn on the news without hearing about it, or even drive very far without seeing a shop advertising CBD product sales – so what is it?

CBD isn’t some hyped up fad, but rather a naturally produced chemical compound found in the cannabis plant: that’s right, it’s related to marijuana. And it is entirely legal. Want to know more about how this is possible and why you should consider its use? This article explains its origins, how it is derived for human use and consumption, and why you might want to consider adding it into your daily routine.

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What Does CBD Stand For?

CBD refers to the cannabinoid, one of the main active ingredients found in cannabis, the scientific family name of marijuana. CBD is the non-psychoactive part of the plant but is also derived directly from the hemp plant (marijuana’s cousin) which is the source for the majority of CBD oil products. This oil does not create any sort of high or altered state of mind and is considered a ‘safe’ oil for topical application, inhalation, and ingestion.

Cannabinoids are found naturally in the body as well. Endocannabinoids are those already present in your system and helps your body to adapt to stressors as well as work with receptors throughout your system for regulation. Phytocannabinoids are those found in plants, and when taken as a supplement work with existing cannabinoids to provide a burst of support.

How Safe is CBD?

Although it is considered safe and is compared to taking an aspirin, in that you can’t feel its effect but only notice its benefits- you should always check with your health care practitioner before starting something new. This is especially true if you take any medications that it may interact with, or are already sensitive to over the counter drugs or painkillers.

Despite the fact that CBD should not ever create a hot drug test, the fact remains that the CBD you can buy in a store is not regulated and some oils could contain slight amounts of THC. This is especially true for oils that are not 3rd party tested for trace amounts, and if ever in doubt you may want to avoid its use. This is also true for athletes who often undergo highly sensitive drug testing that may pick up on even the smallest amounts of THC (the chemical that creates a high in the pot).

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Is CBD Regulated?

Like most plant-based oils, it is important to check for third party testing to ensure quality assurance and potency. Because the oil you buy in a store is not FDA regulated (it is sold as a dietary supplement), sellers can easily pass off inferior products that are not as strong as advertised. It is also possible to sell oils that are more potent, or even contain trace amounts of THC is derived from the marijuana plant. This can cause problems for some people, especially if taken as a supplement alongside other medications.


You are probably wondering how CBD and THC differ, and how one can be legal while the other is not. As explained before, both are a chemical found in cannabis. CBD is also found in plants related to cannabis, such as hemp, which contains incredibly small amounts of THC (less than 0.3%).

THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol and is a psychoactive chemical that alters perceptions and creates a high when it enters into your bloodstream. THC amounts in the bloodstream are difficult to measure, especially because it affects users differently. It also does not flush through the bloodstream easily, and trace amounts may still be present days, or weeks, after use. This is one reason why it is still widely illegal to use or possess to varying degrees.

CBD has no psychoactive effects. It is not mind-altering, and when sensitivities occur, they generally manifest as nausea, fatigue, or irritability. These are also common effects of OTC painkiller sensitivities as well and do not drastically disrupt daily functions.

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What, Exactly, is the Legal Status of CBD?

Unlike marijuana (which is legal in some states) hemp was declared federally legal to grow in all US states in a 2018 Farm Bill. This still means that all hemp and hemp derived products are legal to grow, make, and sell as long as state law is followed. In some states, it can only be used for medicinal purposes, while still others have not declared its use legal until they can get their own regulations in order. To keep up on where CBD is widely available and legal, check out this map.

However, federal law does state that you can travel across state lines with it. This also means it can be sold and shipped anywhere in the US.

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How is CBD Used?

CBD oil, directly derived from the cannabis plant, can be used in a variety of different ways. Be sure not to confuse CBD oil with hemp oil – the oil derived from the hemp seed which does not contain CBD- when you are shopping for oil products. Although hemp oil is rich in fatty acids and bioactive compounds, it does not have the chemical make-up that makes CBD so popular.

CBD can be taken in a variety of ways. It is considered safe for all applications to treat a variety of ailments.


Topical applications are popular when a CBD oil tincture ( a concentrated oil or oil blend) is mixed with favorite lotions, creams, facial masks, and even bath salts. It works well with various essential oils to create natural perfumes, and can even be smoothed over the skin ‘neat’ without the dilution of carrier oil, although the use of a carrier allows it to be used over a much larger area without losing potency.


Although diffusing CBD is not worthwhile as it is too heavy of a chemical makeup to disperse molecularly into the air, you can use a vape oil to essentially ‘smoke’ it and generate benefits in this manner.


Oil tinctures are very popular for ingestion and can be taken directly by placing it under the tongue and swallowing or mixing into your favorite drinks. It also can be cooked with as long as high heats are avoided and certain steps are taken to avoid losing its potency.

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What are the Benefits of CBD?

CBD has long been recognized as the active ingredient in many medical marijuana treatments, working well as a stand-alone as well as alongside THC. Because it is a non-psychoactive drug, it has gained ground in popularity due to legal processes, as well as for those who cannot, or do not want any psychoactive effects but do want to take advantage of the benefits it may provide.


The anti-inflammatory properties of the oil have shown a reduction of pain in lab studies, and those suffering from chronic pain events commonly use the oil to find relief.

Withdrawal Support

Those looking to quit smoking have found that using a CBD vape oil has helped cut their craving for nicotine and aided in quitting smoking altogether. Similarly, addiction disorders surrounding heroin may find a promising treatment for withdrawals with the use of CBD.

Reduction of Mood-Related Symptoms/Disorders

Although fairly limited in research, many studies are currently in order surrounding the benefits of CBD for anxiety, stress, and depression. This includes Post Traumatic Stress, attention, and obsessive-compulsive disorders as well.

Brain and Heart Health

Stress-related changes and a lowering of blood pressure have been observed in studies. Combined with the healthy fatty acids found in the oil, healthy body function seems to be well supported with regular use.

Reduce Insomnia and Support a Deeper Sleep

The anti-inflammatory properties support a reduction of pain and promote healing, which is often a cause of poor sleep. Because of how it works with the central nervous system, studies have shown that it can create a calming effect to support the sleep cycle.

Support for Epileptic Seizures

Approved for prescription, CBD has long been studied in relation to how it can support those suffering from epileptic seizures. Because it has so few side effects, it is a popular choice for children and helps ease many of the worst episodes. In 2018 it was FDA approved for prescription in patients with specific epileptic disorders, which, in turn, recognized its effectiveness.

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CBD oil has a long way to go yet in reference to all it may be beneficial for, but as its popularity gains ground, further studies of this non-psychoactive ingredient found in the cannabis plant are sure to be forthcoming. Considered a safe oil, care should always be taken when being introduced to a new product- but for the most part, this oil has a broad spectrum of use to not only treat ailments but enhance your overall health with regular use.

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