CBD: A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabidiol

CBD is a cannabinoid. The cannabis plant actually contains over 100 of these compounds. And you’re probably familiar with another one called THC. CBD is the non-psychoactive component of marijuana that produces multiple health benefits

CBD: The Highlights

  • CBD or cannabidiol is a chemical component found in the cannabis plant
  • CBD is a cannabinoid, just like THC
  • Unlike THC, CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects
  • CBD produces multiple health benefits, including pain relief, anxiety relief, and more
  • Multiple studies are still looking into the benefits of CBD

What is CBD?

It would probably behoove you to know just what the heck the acronym “CBD” even stands for. Well, it’s a longish word known as cannabidiol. More specifically, it is one of the many chemical compounds that derive from the cannabis plant, that itself, has been around for thousands of years.

One of the most common and popular forms of CBD is oil. Usually, a carrier oil like hemp or coconut is used in conjunction with the actual CBD when it is extracted from the plant.

And you can find this product and many like it in most states now. It comes in both topical and digestible forms. But there are regulations on how it’s packaged and promoted.

What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids written on paper

If you want to get a little more technical, CBD is a cannabinoid. The cannabis plant actually contains over 100 of these compounds. And you’re probably familiar with another one called THC.

In long form, this stands for tetrahydrocannabinol and it varies from CBD because of its effect on the body. You often hear this used in reference to marijuana, which is the version of cannabis that does get you high.

Does CBD Come From Hemp or Marijuana?

The short answer to this question is, both. Hemp and marijuana crops have different purposes. For example, if a farmer is looking to get a crop of cannabis with high THC content, he will harvest the flowers of marijuana plants, because that is where it is most prominent.

On the other hand, if the intent is to get a high yield of a crop to make things like clothes, supplements, fuel, body care products and construction materials, then the stalks and fibrous parts of hemp plants will be harvested.

At the end of the day though, both of which contain CBD. But there is a bit of a catch-22 on this. The CBD that comes from hemp is purer and a higher percentage. It is also really low in THC content.

Whereas, a marijuana-derived CBD can vary because of the intervention of other compounds found in the plant.

When it’s all said and done, by law, a legal CBD product has to have less than .3 percent THC in it. And often times, marijuana plants are 20 percent or higher.

Does CBD get you High?

To bottom line it, CBD has no psychoactive effect on the body. That’s the biggest difference between this and THC. And it’s also the main reason why there are tight regulations on the use and production of CBD and THC-containing products.

If getting high IS your main objective, then you will have no problem finding an abundance of products at a dispensary in a state like Colorado, where they are legal.

But if you are looking for more of the health benefits of CBD, you will not have to worry about getting high from it specifically.

The Proven CBD Benefits for Health


Infographic: CBD Oil Benefits (Click for full size)

It should come as no surprise to you that benefits are important. In fact, this is always one of the main things people want to know about when applying for a job.

They’ll often ask, “What does the benefits package include?” Well, if you get an eye, dental, prescription, paid sick time and maternity leave, you have a pretty solid benefits package.

Fast forward to CBD oil and all derivatives, and it boasts a similar story. Except, in this case, the benefits are for optimal health and not only treatment of conditions, but prevention as well.

Once you know the benefits, you can then make an informed decision if CBD is a good option to integrate into your daily life. Here are a few of these for you to ponder.

Can Relieve Pain

It’s never fun to be in pain, regardless if it is acute or chronic. The goods news is, CBD can help reduce the effects of pain, and that is one of the main reasons people look to this formula for treatment.

In your body, you have endocannabinoid receptors that are designed to blunt the effects of pain and aid in sleep.

When this process is interrupted, pain can last longer than normal and become chronic. CBD steps in to interact with the endocannabinoid system and reduce the instances of pain and inflammation.

May Treat Anxiety and Depression

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 16.2 US adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2016. Regardless if it is depression, anxiety, or a combination of the two, there is no shortage of pharmaceutical drugs available to combat this condition.

But, they often come with unwanted side effects that make them very risky. CBD oil has shown promise in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, and also improving cognitive function.

Could Reduce Symptoms of Cancer

Cancer cells

Cancer is another grim disease, although there have been great advancements in treatment over the years. And one of the promising aspects of this revolves around the use of CBD.

It has been shown to reduce various side effects often associated with cancer treatment, such as nausea, pain, and vomiting.

More importantly, CBD is also showing signs of being preventative for cancer in the first place. And prevention is always the best medicine.

Has Been Shown to Reduce Acne

You can argue that acne is rather minor compared to a lot of the other more life-threatening conditions out there. But, to one who suffers from it, especially when it is severe, there is nothing fun about it. And it’s actually a quite common condition.

In fact, approximately 50 million Americans are affected with acne each year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. 

Most often, it occurs in younger adults aged 12 to 24, but it can linger on into adulthood in a lot of cases as well.

Fast forward to CBD, and it has been known to reduce inflammation of the sebaceous glands, which is the main reason for acne to develop in the first place.

May Help Boost Your Brain

People often associate marijuana with killing brain cells and making you less smart. You’ve probably heard the term “pothead” at some time in your life. Well, regardless if that is true or not is beside the point because CBD is not pot.

What it has been shown to do though is the complete adverse of what marijuana is said to do–improve brain function. That can come in handy in many situations, ranging from school to work to home life.

Linked to Heart Health

Line cardiogram with heart

You only get one heart, and it is the strongest muscle in the human body. You best respect it and do anything you can to keep it in good working order.

High blood pressure is a common condition that can lead to heart attacks and strokes, and the outcome of one of these episodes can be fatal.

But, CBD has been showing a two-prong benefit in the prevention of these conditions. Not only has it been known to reduce blood pressure, but it has also been known to strengthen the cells of the heart to further keep it strong.

Has Anti-seizure Properties

Multiple sclerosis and epilepsy are two common disorders that affect the neurological system. Seizures and lack of motor control of the muscles are two of the most common physical effects that they cause.

With epilepsy specifically, there are two sub-conditions known as Lannax Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) and Davet Syndrome. Research done by the Mayo Clinic has shown that kids suffering from these conditions that were administered a CBD medication showed a 39% reduction in seizures.

This is statistically huge and shows great promise for treatment going forward.

Used for Skin Health

The skin is the largest organ in the human body. So it makes sense that you would want to preserve it and take as good a core of it as possible. One of the ways you can do this is by using CBD oil, salve or an equivalent topical solution.

The main reason why is because CBD contains a powerful antioxidant that helps promote skin health.

What’s the Difference: CBD vs. THC?


The main difference between CBD and THC, as stated above, is that CBD does not give you a high feeling. Plus, CBD is primarily used for treatment and prevention of conditions.

But, medicinal marijuana can also be used in the same way, especially when it is for pain relief.

How to Legally Acquire

First things first, CBD is on the brink of becoming a household thing that you can find across the entire nation. But, it’s still not quite there yet.

Until that day comes, you are best to consult with your primary care physician to see if he can recommend it for your specific needs.

Make Sure to Consult Local Laws

Much like every state has specific laws pertaining to speed limits and the like, the same can be said about the governing of CBD.

Before you consider embarking on a run of it, or even growing plants yourself, check with your local authorities to see what the actual restrictions are. It is always best to be safe than sorry.

Ordering CBD Online

You can pretty much get anything you want online these days.

And that definitely includes CBD products, But the problem is, you don’t always know if the seller is being honest with you or sending you snake oil with contaminants in it. Or worse yet, saying they have this expensive, high-grade CBD oil and it really has no CBD at all.

There is nothing wrong with ordering online, but just be very sure that the company has your best interest in mind and not theirs.

Health Food Stores and Pharmacies

Probably your best bet for obtaining CBD formulations is from a reputable health food store or pharmacy where you can make eye contact with an actual person and ask them questions.

They will be able to guide you in the right direction of what you specifically need and they will also have the most valuable information about the companies that they carry.

CBD Side Effects and Risks

Everything you ingest or apply comes with a risk of side effects. With CBD specifically, they are not as prominent as say, pharmaceutical drugs, but they can appear.

If you start using a CBD product, be on guard for anything out of the ordinary that might crop up. Here are some of the common side effects that have been reported.

Anxiety and Depression

It sounds kind of ironic that a side effect of CBD would also be a condition that it treats. But, it can happen and it is best for you to be aware of this so you can easily recognize it if it should appear.


This is a serious condition where you basically lose touch with reality because your mental state becomes so skewed. It won’t be hard for you to notice if this side effect crops up.


Feeling nauseous is not a major problem, but it can be frustrating. If it’s caused by taking CBD, then you can easily just stop it with cessation of using the product you have.


Under normal circumstances, vomiting occurs when you’ve had too much to drink or are having a bad reaction to something you ate. If your body rejects CBD or you are possibly allergic to it, then vomiting can occur.


Eyes looking drowsy with zz's on top

Although this is looked at as a side effect, it can actually be a positive if you suffer from insomnia. But if you find you are getting excessively drowsy from the use of CBD at the wrong time of day, then you might want to cut back.

Dry Mouth

This side effect is probably the most insignificant of them all. If you do happen to develop dry mouth though, you can always sip on more water throughout the day.


If you start getting dizzy from using CBD, this can range from mild to severe. But by no means should you keep using it in either case. Getting dizzy in the wrong place at the wrong time can lead to a fall and do further harm to your body.


Diarrhea is similar to vomiting in the respect that it is your body’s way of rejecting something that you ate or drank. If you feel it is specifically caused by CBD, then you should get off of it and see if it goes away. If it does, then you know it’s the CBD causing it.

If it doesn’t, then it’s being caused by something else and you can most likely keep using your product.

Appetite Changes

The word “munchies” often comes to mind when people think about smoking weed because it affects grehlin, which is a hunger-stimulating hormone. CBD is different. But if you notice any changes in appetite, such as it is lower or higher than normal, then you might want to cut back on the CBD to see if things balance out.

It is also smart to make sure CBD does not interact with any medications you might be currently taking too. You can discuss this with your doctor.

The Final Word on CBD

Suffice it to say, all things CBD are making a big stand as treatments for numerous conditions. If you are looking for the latest bio-hack or option to remedy a frustrating condition you’ve been dealing with, CBD could very well be your hookup. Just always honor your body and do what works best.

[wp-post-author title=””]
Kevin Rail

Kevin is an internationally known and sought after fitness coach and freelance writer He has been featured in the documentary films, “Fasting” and “The Motivation Factor” by Doug Orchard Films. Kevin specializes in functional training, core training, three-dimensional movement, motivation, and Restorative Arts. He has a B.S. in Sport Management/Fitness & Wellness from the California University of Pennsylvania, is certified through ACSM, AFM, NASM, and ACE, and has written well over 2,000 articles pertaining to health, wellness, and CBD.