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What Is CBD?

Recently there's been a sharp upswing in public interest in cannabidiol (CBD). New CBD products are introduced every day, from cosmetics to dog treats. But what exactly is CBD, and how does it work? Here are the basics about this popular new product, and what it can do.

CBD is one of the naturally occurring active compounds known as cannabinoids that are found in both hemp and marijuana. There are over 100 cannabinoids, but the two that are best understood are THC and CBD. THC is responsible for the "high" people experience when they use marijuana. CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive, so it doesn't produce the same intoxicated feeling. Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant family, cannabis, and have one major difference: hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, an amount that's considered negligible.

Although CBD is often extracted from hemp plants, it's important to note that it's not the same thing as hemp oil, which comes from hemp seeds. CBD is extracted from the leaves, flowers, and stalks of the plants, using similar methods as other botanical extracts, such as steeping in oil or alcohol, or on a larger scale using CO2.

Is CBD Legal?

The law around CBD, hemp, and marijuana can seem a little murky. Marijuana has been legalized in a number of states, for recreational or medical use. However, by federal law, it is still classified as a Category I illegal drug. CBD that comes from marijuana is legal in states that have legalized marijuana, but still illegal at the level of the federal government. It's also illegal to carry it across state lines.

Hemp, on the other hand, was made legal in the Farm Bill. As long as it has less than 0.3% THC, hemp-derived CBD is legal in America.

What Is CBD Used For?

Less than 30 years ago scientists discovered an active network of receptors all through the body, the endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids are substances made in the body that resemble the compounds found in cannabis. The receptors for endocannabinoids impact the function of the body in lots of ways, many of which we are only beginning to understand.

CBD is so similar to some endocannabinoids that are made in the body that it can interact with the endocannabinoid system. Given how widespread these receptors are, the results are felt all over the body. 

    How Do You Take CBD?

    CBD can be taken orally, topically, and inhaled. Because of this flexibility, there are a huge number of CBD products. You can use a tincture or oil, you can take capsules, or apply a lotion. There are bath products with CBD and different kinds of food and drink. You can vape it, and you can even get pet treats with CBD.

    Most people use one of three methods to take CBD, and each has its own advantages:

    Oral

    Tinctures containing CBD can be sprayed into the mouth or dropped under the tongue. You can also swallow capsules or eat products with CBD. Tincture or oil is absorbed faster, but capsules and edibles make it easier to control strengths and amount consumed.

    Topical

    CBD absorbs well, and lotions or balms containing it can be very effective in the area they are used. This method takes a little longer to work, but it's a good way to focus on certain location and surface area sizes.

    Inhalation

    CBD can be vaped or inhaled as a vapor. This is the fastest way to get it into your bloodstream, but it can be a little more tricky to control the amount consumed you're getting.

    Concentration and Serving Size

    When you start out with CBD, it can take a little while to figure out the correct strength for you. Each body is different, and each reason for taking it requires different strengths of CBD for the best results. The first step is to read the product information so you know how many micrograms of CBD you're getting per serving. Once you know how much is in your product, start with a small amount and see how it affects you. Side effects are rare and generally very mild, but it's a good idea to work your way up slowly. Take your time and find a level that is right for you.

    As the laws change around cannabis, more and more people are discovering how CBD can support their lifestyle. If you're interested in trying it for yourself, there are many delivery options available, so it's easy to try one and see what it can do for you.