CBD 101: Everything You Need to Know

There is no doubt about it, CBD is the hottest wellness trend, and it's not going away anytime soon. Bars add it to their cocktails, coffee shops infuse it with their coffee, beauty products add it to their skincare lines. People everywhere are hopping on the bandwagon. But what is CBD, and why is everyone using it? 

What is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol and is the oil found in the cannabis Sativa plant. Don't worry, the cannabidiol compound is non-intoxicating and non-euphoric, meaning it won't get you high. 

In the cannabis plant, CBD is especially prevalent in the flowers or buds, but may also be found in the stems and stalks. CBD is one of 144 (approximately) cannabinoid oils found in the cannabis plant. 

And CBD really won't get me high?

Nope. The only compound in the cannabis plant that gets you high is in marijuana, and it is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It's also illegal to have more than 0.3% of THC in any CBD product.   

You keep mentioning cannabis. Isn't that marijuana? 

Cannabis is the class of the plants. Think of it as the grandparent. Then you have the three species that come from cannabis- Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis. Think of these three as a parent. Each species has types of strains. These are the kids. 

Hemp is a plant from the Sativa species and is the strain that is legal in the United States.

Are you sure CBD is legal in the United States? 

The Farm Bill was signed in 2018 legalized hemp-derived cannabidiol products. The hemp plant has high concentrations of CBD and low concentrations of THC (less than 0.3%). Hemp-derived cannabidiol is legal in all 50 states. Cannabis sativa CBD has not been researched and is considered a Schedule 1 drug in the United States. 

CBD is the compound thought to have a broader impact on health than THC. Research still needs to be done to know what the full benefits of CBD are. Currently, the only FDA approved cannabidiol is Epididolex, which is for 2 forms of severe epilepsy. (Let me say, it is terrific. My niece uses this, and it helped her go from 10 seizures a day, to only having seizures occasionally.)

How safe is CBD?

CBD is safe, non-habit forming, and useful with few adverse effects. It has many healing effects on the brain and body. Generally, we can look at CBD as a helper to preventive medications one is already taking. Maybe even one day, it will be a preventive medicine! 

CBD Interacts with the Endocannabinoid System

Cannabidiol and other cannabinoids work by impacting the body's Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a natural system in our brain and body. Its primary function is to maintain bodily homeostasis. (Homeostasis refers to stability, balance, or equilibrium within a cell or the body.)  

We currently know that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating a range of functions in our brain and immune system, including - metabolism, chronic pain, inflammation, learning and memory, motor control, stress, sleep, mood, appetite, memory, and reproduction, and fertility. ECS receptors are the most common receptors in the brain and the second most common receptors in the body. 

When the body is firing off too many neurotransmitters, the endocannabinoid system gets to work and releases its own chemical messengers to balance the body back out. These chemical messengers are known as anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These two chemicals are natural cannabinoids called endocannabinoids and work by attaching to a cannabinoid receptor on the cell. 

The two known ECS receptors are CB1 (cannabinoid receptor 1) and CB2 (cannabinoid receptor 2). Then the cannabinoid (AEA or 2-AG) gets released; it attaches to the receptors and quickly breaks down by enzymes. 

CB1 receptors are mostly found in the central nervous system. 

The CB1 receptors are essential for a healthy, functioning brain. They are also found throughout the body in lower densities. 

 Brain/Spinal Cord  Hypothalamus  Uterus 
 Cortical regions  Thalamus  Prostate 
 Cerebellum  Thyroid  Testes 
 Brain-stem  Upper Airways   Ovaries 
 Basal ganglia Pituitary  Liver 
 Olfactory bulb  Adrenals 


CB2 receptors are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system. 

The CB2 receptors are found on the cells of our lymphatic and immune system. 

 Spleen  Thymus   Tonsils 
 Blood   Skin 

Some tissues or organs have both CB1 and CB2 receptors.

 Eye  Heart   Bone 
 Stomach   Pancreas  Digestive Tract 

When cannabidiol (CBD) is ingested, it works by imitating the body's naturally occurring endocannabinoids. CBD does not directly interact with CB1 or CB2 receptors. What is does do is block the enzymes that break down the natural cannabinoid AEA. It allows the body to increase its naturally occurring cannabinoids.

Our endocannabinoid system might be easy to throw off balance, but CBD can help restore balance within the body.

< Learn how CBD can support balance in your body.