A Beginner’s Guide to CBD

A Beginner’s Guide to CBD

By now, you have probably heard about CBD in the media or from someone who has already tried it. As nations worldwide begin to relax their laws on cannabis-derived products, markets are rapidly becoming populated with a variety of easy-to-use CBD. Even with all this publicity, some people are still unsure about CBD, its potential and even its legal status.

If you are curious about CBD but you don’t know where to start, here is a quick guide that will hopefully answer your questions about CBD and its uses.

What exactly is CBD

CBD stands for cannabidiol and is one of the many active compounds naturally found in the cannabis plant. While CBD and THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) are the most recognized, science has discovered over 120 distinct cannabinoids in cannabis plants. Some of their effects on the human body have been documented, but there are still numerous studies attempting to identify the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids.

THC is notorious for its psychoactive effect – it is the cannabinoid responsible for getting users high.

CBD does not have the same intoxicating effects as THC, so it will not get you high. CBD actually moderates some of the unpleasant effects of THC. CBD preliminary research is being conducted to investigate its possible anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic effects. Users already report these beneficial effects and the results of the studies will offer valuable scientific insight.

So far, safety studies show cannabidiol is well tolerated by the human body, although its side-effects might include tiredness, changes in appetite or diarrhea.

In Europe, all CBD oil is extracted from hemp (Cannabis sativa L) plants with a THC content of less than 0.3%. Essentially, hemp and marijuana plants are one and the same, the difference being that marijuana plants are specifically bred for higher THC content

There is reason to believe that CBD products derived from marijuana (cannabis plants with higher THC content) may be more effective than those extracted from hemp plants. Even if such products are not available where you live, you can still take advantage of products made with CBD derived from industrial hemp.

Although more research is definitely needed, the results so far show great promise. Research shows that CBD might provide relief from various mental conditions, such as:

  • anxiety disorders
  • post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • addiction
  • schizophrenia

While the scientific research into the supposed benefits of CBD is still underway, anecdotal evidence confirms people have been successfully using CBD to find relief from various conditions. These conditions usually include depression, anxiety and pain. A study published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research shows that 62% of users choose CBD to treat medical symptoms.

Due to its potential beneficial properties, CBD can become a valuable medical compound in the near future.

The properties of CBD can have a positive impact not only on mental conditions, as various studies suggest it might also offer relief for physical conditions. As noted in the oncology journal Cancers, CBD might exhibit the following properties:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • analgesic (pain management)
  • anti-convulsive
  • sedative

CBD appears to have very few adverse side effects and is well tolerated by the human body. The potential for abuse or dependence is virtually inexistent as long as it is not mixed with addictive substances.

What about terpenes?

Alongside the 110+ cannabinoids, the cannabis plant produces other chemical compounds, such as terpenes.

Many plants, fruits and herbs contain terpenes and these compounds are responsible for their specific aromas and flavours. As expected, different cannabis varieties produce different terpenes and in varying amounts.

Although scientists are still determining the roles played by different compounds found in cannabis, there are reasons to consider the therapeutic benefits of terpenes. For example, one study found that limonene, a terpene found in cannabis and many other plants, exhibits anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antioxidant properties.

The Entourage Effect

The entourage effect is a complex bio-mechanism that points to an interesting situation: the health benefits of cannabis extracts seem to be maximised in the presence of multiple compounds from the cannabis plant.

A study published in Frontiers in Plant Science determined there is evidence supporting the entourage effect but more information is certainly required to reach a conclusion.

CBD Potency Guide

An important aspect of all CBD products is their potency. We are all different and our bodies react to and metabolise compounds differently.

Since CBD doesn’t come in a “one size fits all” manner, it’s important for people to find and use a dosage that fits their needs. Fortunately, there are many concentrations available and most CBD products display dosage in milligrams (mg).

For most users, a “start low and go slow” strategy works best. By choosing a low initial dose and slowly working your way up, you can safely discover your minimum effective dose while avoiding any unwanted side effects.

For more information you can check our handy guide for finding the right CBD strength for your needs.

Types of CBD Extracts

The variety of available CBD extracts might seem confusing to newcomers. This confusion can be easily dispelled with just a few clarifications.


CBD Isolate

Products that are made using CBD isolate only contain cannabidiol (CBD) and no other constituent from the cannabis plant. Some users prefer to be certain that the products they are using contains no THC or other cannabinoids. This makes for a good assessment of the effectiveness of only CBD and can offer valuable information about how well CBD performs on its own.

However, current understanding of the cannabinoid action mechanisms suggests that the effects of CBD might be enhanced when it is accompanied by other cannabinoids.

Broad-spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD products contain other chemical compounds and cannabinoids that are naturally found in the cannabis plant. These include cannabinoids such as CBN, CBC, CBG, CBDV or terpenes like limonene, myrcene or pinene.

Usually, broad-spectrum CBD products contain no THC or only minute THC levels

Full-spectrum CBD

As the name suggests, full-spectrum CBD products offer the whole package: the same constituents found in broad-spectrum CBD extracts, along small quantities of THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol levels are under 0.3%, not enough to create the “high” effect associated with cannabis use.

User reports seem to suggest that even in low levels, the presence of additional cannabinoids are enough to trigger the entourage effect and increase the overall effectiveness of the product.

Types of CBD Products

The variety of available CBD extracts might seem confusing to newcomers. This confusion can be easily dispelled with just a few clarifications.


Oils and Tinctures

Typically, these products consist of a glycerin, oil or alcohol base that is enriched with CBD, with or without additional cannabinoids and terpenes.

Using a dropper, people can take these extracts on their own or add them to food or beverages. They are available in various strengths and flavors and are a good option for people who can’t take pills or capsules.


CBD edibles provide the same constituents as oils and tinctures, but in an edible form. They are available in many forms, but CBD gummies are by far the most common edible. Many users prefer CBD gummies due to their ease of use, portability and precise dosage.

Creams and Lotions

CBD is also available in topical form, as creams and lotions. They are used to treat muscle and joint pain and have been used to treat skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.

Effects can manifest shortly after application on skin or might take up to several hours in some cases.

Capsules and Pills

A common use for CBD capsules and pills is in the treatment of digestive issues or seizures.

While capsules and pills offer several advantages, one drawback is the time it takes the effects to manifest, sometimes hours after ingestion.


The fastest way to experience the effects of CBD is to inhale the vaporised extracts. This delivery method ensures that absorption is done directly from the lungs and into the bloodstream.

This method does come with its risks, as there are reasons to believe vaping might have adverse effects on the delicate lung tissue.

Risks and Side Effects

Because CBD is a natural compound, there are few risks associated with its consumption. However, this is only true when CBD is taken on its own and not in association with other medication.

If you are regularly taking OTC medication you should consult with your doctor before taking CBD, as it might have unwanted interactions with your current treatment. Side effects might include fatigue or an upset stomach.

Pregnant women should also exercise caution if they are considering taking CBD, as there is little information about CBD impacts on pregnancy.

Want to learn more about CBD and cannabinoids? Check our selection of helpful articles and remember that informed decisions are always the best!

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