Health Benefits Without the High: Answering your FAQs About CBD
CBD is having a moment — popping up everywhere, from your favorite skincare products to cocktails, pet products and more.

A major part of the cannabinoid’s sudden popularity stems from claims that you’ll get all the health benefits of cannabis without the high. And with any health and wellness trend, there’s a lot of questions and misinformation out there regarding CBD. 

For starters, cannabis-derived CBD does still contain THC — meaning you could still feel high. But hemp-derived CBD contains only traces of THC, making it unlikely for you to feel mind-altering effects. 

What's true and what isn't? In this article, we'll be answering some of the more common questions about CBD, what it can do for your health, and how you can make a more informed decision about whether or not you should be incorporating it into your daily regimen. 

What is CBD Oil?

CBD - or cannabidiol - is one of over 120 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant and has been shown to have medicinal properties without getting the user high, unlike THC. Hemp and marijuana plants each have different levels of cannabinoids, and how the plants are bred has an impact on the amount of CBD that it has. 

The majority of CBD oil comes from industrial hemp, which is typically higher in CBD and lower in THC than marijuana. Manufacturers use a variety of extraction methods to separate the cannabinoid from the hemp (or cannabis) plant and add it to your favorite product. 

How do you use CBD oil? 

There are a few ways to use CBD oil, and the one you choose will depend on your needs, the reason why you're taking CBD, and how you prefer to dose. 

Smoking - CBD-only strains are available as flower, so they can be smoked in a joint or a pipe that may or may not contain marijuana-derived THC. 

Vaping - Using a vaporizer, CBD oil can also be vaped as an alternative to smoking. The difference is that the material is not burned, which can therefore be less irritating to the lungs and airways. Instead, the concentrate is heated just enough to turn the compound into a vapor, which is then inhaled. 

Topicals - Those who are suffering from pain and are looking for localized treatment may find CBD oil topicals effective. For instance, anyone suffering from sore muscles, joint pain, or even skin conditions may deal with their ailments effectively with a CBD topical. 

Rather than consuming the oil orally, the substance is applied directly to the skin. Topicals can come in the form of an ointment, cream, or balm and can be applied virtually anywhere on the body where discomfort is felt. 

Tinctures - CBD oil can be applied directly under the tongue to help take effect in the body. These products come in a dropper for easy application. 

Just add a few drops under the tongue, keep it in your mouth for a few seconds, then swallow. You can also add drops to any food or drink, though the effect takes longer. Tinctures are easy to use and can help you dose more precisely based on the number of drops applied.

Capsules - A user-friendly way to take CBD is through capsules. These are already precisely dosed and are easy to take, much like any other type of vitamin or pill. 

Edibles - CBD oil can be added to just about any food or beverages to be consumed orally. CBD edibles come in a wide array of products, including gummies, candies, chewing gum, baked goods, and beverages, such as water and beer. You can find CBD edibles already made and dosed, or you can create your own edibles by adding a few drops of CBD oil to your recipes. 

Create your own edibles by adding a few drops of CBD oil to your recipes

How is CBD Different From THC?

The major difference between CBD and THC is their mental effect. While THC is known to have psychoactive effects, which is why recreational users use marijuana to get high, CBD does not have the same effect on the mind

In fact, CBD may counter the mind-altering effects of THC. 

The difference between THC and CBD and how each affects the mind and body have to do with how each compound interacts with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. Made up of its own set of naturally-occurring cannabinoids, this system is directly involved in regulating hormone secretion to affect things such as mood, appetite, and energy, inflammation, and pain.

Even though CBD and THC have the same atoms, the arrangement of these atoms is much different. CBD tends to interact more with the receptors that are more involved with inflammation and pain, while THC tends to interact more with the receptors involved in affecting the mind. 

More specifically, THC interacts more with the CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system, which are found more in the central nervous system. Compounds that impact CB1 receptors are more likely to affect the mind because they impact the brain and spinal cord. 

Instead, CBD interacts more with the CB2 receptors of the system, which are more prevalent in the peripheral nervous system. And anything that impacts CB2 receptors will affect the rest of the body, such as reducing pain and inflammation. Further, while THC binds directly with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system, CBD does not and is more indirectly involved with the receptors. 

The bottom line is that THC is what gets users high, while CBD does not, even though both cannabinoids offer several medical benefits. 

Does CBD get you High?

As already mentioned, no, CBD oil does not get you high. There are no psychoactive properties in CBD oil, and as such, no mind-altering effects are felt after consuming it. 

Does CBD Give you the “Munchies” and Other Side Effects of Marijuana? 

It's a commonly-known fact that smoking marijuana somehow stimulates the appetite in users and triggers them to snack. Known as the "munchies," this situation is brought about by the THC in the marijuana plant. 

Studies have even linked an increase in appetite with the use of THC, because the cannabinoid activates the CB1 receptors in the body, which induces several effects, including boosting the appetite. 

In fact, some people who seek to increase their appetite - including patients undergoing appetite-suppressing treatments - have used THC in order to increase their body weight. That said, avid marijuana users don't need to read the research to tell them how smoking marijuana can stimulate their craving for food. 

But CBD doesn't have the same effect as THC when it comes to the "munchies." Instead, there is research out there that suggests that CBD may have the opposite effect on the appetite. 

Not only can CBD counteract the effects of THC - including THC's appetite-stimulating effect - there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that it may actually help to suppress the appetite, though more research on humans is needed to solidify this notion. 

The Science Behind CBD

What are Cannabinoids? How do They Work?

Cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, are chemical compounds that the flower of the cannabis plant secretes. These cannabinoids possess medicinal properties in the cannabis plant and can have a positive effect on ailments such as pain, inflammation, anxiety, poor sleep, and nausea. 

The cannabinoids of the cannabis plant work by mimicking the naturally-occurring cannabinoids of the endocannabinoid system in the body. As already mentioned, the endocannabinoid system is tasked with regulating things such as appetite, mood, pain, and inflammation. By introducing external cannabinoids to the body, they can interact with the receptors of the system to have similar effects that natural endocannabinoids may have.

This is especially helpful if there is a deficiency with the endocannabinoid system. In this case, outside cannabinoid sources can help fill the void and put the body back into homeostasis in order to alleviate whatever issues may be present. 

When consumed, cannabinoids bind to or interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptor sites of the endocannabinoid system. CBD, in particular, more indirectly interacts with the receptors and doesn't directly bind to them, which is why no psychoactive effects are felt. 

What's more is that CBD is more likely to interact with the CB2 receptors in the body as opposed to the CB1 receptors in the brain, which are what THC directly binds to and ultimately prompts a mind-altering effect. 

Cannabinoids bind to or interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptor sites of the endocannabinoid system.

How Does CBD Make you Feel?

If THC makes you feel high, how does CBD make you feel? While CBD may be able to reduce pain and inflammation and alleviate feelings of nausea, what type of mental experience does it create?

Your reaction to CBD will depend a lot on what you consume and how much you take. CBD has been known to stimulate mental clarity and even offer a bit of energy by activating serotonin receptors in the brain. 

Other common effects of CBD include:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • More restful sleep 
  • Relief from pain and inflammation
  • Increased relaxation

In addition, CBD may be able to counter the mind-altering effects of THC because it interacts with receptors in the brain much differently compared to THC. CBD itself does not get users stoned.

How Long Does CBD Last?

The answer to this question depends on the product used and the mode of consumption. Some CBD products may take action quickly and wear off sooner while others take longer to kick in and may last for hours.

Generally speaking, however, the effects of CBD are usually felt for anywhere between two to six hours, depending on the dose and form. 

Consuming CBD orally through capsules or edibles will take longer to take effect, but will last longer compared to other modes of consumption. When CBD is ingested, it will have to go through the digestive system first and processed by the liver before it will reach different parts of the body through the bloodstream.

But when administered by vaping, smoking, or by using a sublingual tincture, the CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream faster because it does not have to be digested, therefore the effects are felt much quicker. 

As such, if you're looking for near-immediate effects from your CBD - for pain or anxiety, for instance - then seeking out a method that will take faster effect may be better suited for you. Otherwise, any other type of consumption will work to provide you with the effects you require from your CBD products.

Can Taking CBD Products Cause you to Fail a Drug Test?

There are a number of reasons why people would have to undergo a drug test. Some employers might require applicants to be subject to drug testing before being hired or may even require periodic screening throughout employment to ensure a drug-free environment. 

Federal employees, medical staff and other employees may be required to take a drug test as a part of their employment agreement. And professional athletes may also be required to take a drug test to make sure there are no illicit substances in their bodies that could disqualify them from competing. 

Whatever the reason may be, drug screening is somewhat common, and those who undergo these tests must pass in order to avoid any consequences. 

If you have to undergo drug screening and have been using CBD products, will you fail the test?

Most drug tests are zero-tolerance, so proceed with caution if you’re subject to drug tests. If a product contains any THC, they will show up on a drug test. 

Pure hemp-based CBD made from reputable manufacturers typically contain no more than 0.3% THC. While you won’t feel high from using these products, the tiny presence of THC means it’s still possible to fail a drug test. 

There are high-CBD strains of medical marijuana that also contain high amounts of THC, which will result in a failed drug screening. Unfortunately, some manufacturers are not completely honest about the THC levels that are in their products. 

The labels may not be entirely accurate. As such, anyone who uses these products might not be fully aware of the fact that an illegal level of THC is in their body.

That's why it's so important that you understand exactly what's in the product you're taking. While it may be fine to use a high-CBD and high-THC product - if that's exactly what you want to use - you need to be aware of the precise contents in the product. If you believe you're taking pure CBD, then there should be only trace amounts of THC - or none at all - in the product you're using. 

Pure CBD oil will not cause a failed drug test, unless the test is specifically seeking CBD. While most employers are more concerned with THC, others like the US military, do test for CBD as well. 

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What is the Difference Between Cannabis-Based CBD and Hemp-Based CBD?

More and more people are finding out about CBD every day and are learning about all the health and medicinal properties that it possesses. But what many may not realize is that there are actually two different versions of CBD that are sold on the market. More specifically, some CBD products are derived from the hemp plant, while others are extracted from marijuana.

The question is, what's the difference between the two?

Marijuana plants are harvested for their flowers and buds, which house the plant's THC that induces psychoactive effects. On the other hand, hemp plants are harvested for their seeds and stalks and don't have enough THC to stimulate any mind-altering effects. In order to be classified as hemp, the plants cannot have any levels of THC that are higher than 0.3%.

Hemp-based CBD products don't have enough THC to be considered illegal and are sold all around the country as a health supplement. 

Hemp-derived CBD oils are also usually lower in CBD levels than marijuana-based CBD oil. The former usually contains concentrations of around 3.5% CBD, while the latter typically has a CBD concentration of about 20%.

What is the Difference Between Hemp Seed oil and CBD?

Many CBD products are derived from hemp, so what would be the difference between what's known as "CBD oil" and "hemp seed oil?" Are they the same thing? Or are they different?

CBD oil and hemp seed oil are actually two different products and are unique in their own way. Both come from different parts of the cannabis plant, and while they both have healthy properties, they're not the same. More specifically, hemp seed oil has little to no CBD or other cannabinoids, while CBD oil obviously contains CBD, hence the name. 

Hemp seed oil is extracted from hemp seeds when they’re compressed, similar to how olive oil is made. 

This type of oil is considered to be extremely healthy, as it is rich in antioxidants and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Hemp seeds are also loaded with protein and are actually considered one of the best sources of plant-based protein. 

CBD oil is extracted from the cannabis plant and contains CBD, as well as other cannabinoids, depending on the exact type of plant that it is extracted from. When extracted from hemp, CBD will have very little THC. When extracted from the cannabis plant, CBD will contain a much higher THC concentration. 

What are the Health Benefits of Using CBD?

There are tons of benefits of using CBD, which is why it has exploded in the health and wellness sphere. And thanks to its medicinal properties, it has also become very popular as a supplement or alternative to conventional medicine for various ailments. 

While further human studies are needed to solidify CBD's place in the world of health and medicine, there is already plenty of evidence to support CBD's role in treating many health issues. Here are some medicinal benefits of using CBD.

CBD relieves pain

Perhaps one of the more common reasons for CBD use is to reduce pain. Whether from an acute injury, chronic issues, or from diseases like arthritis and multiple sclerosis, the pain experienced may be effectively alleviated through the use of CBD.

CBD interacts with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in the regulation of several functions, including pain. Research has shown that CBD may help to reduce pain by influencing the activity of receptors of the endocannabinoid system, minimizing inflammation, and impacting neurotransmitter activity.

One particular study discovered that the administration of CBD in lab rats resulted in reduced pain. In another study involving rodents, oral CBD administration was found to help reduce inflammation and nerve pain in rats.

Studies involving human participants have also found a positive correlation between CBD and pain reduction. One, in particular, found that those with multiple sclerosis experienced significantly less pain related to their disease after taking CBD for a few weeks.

CBD may reduce anxiety

Another common reason to use CBD is to relieve anxiety. There are plenty of pharmaceutical medications that are available these days to help treat the symptoms of anxiety and can be effective at providing temporary relief. 

However, CBD may be used to treat the same symptoms effectively and safely without the potential side effects that may come with traditional medications, such as irritability, stomach issues, and fatigue. 

One study found that one group of participants experienced much less anxiety in social settings after taking CBD compared to the group that received a placebo. The cannabinoid may even be able to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

CBD may be effective at alleviating anxiety because of its ability to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter directly linked to mood regulation. While more research is needed to understand how CBD alters brain chemistry, studies have indicated CBD may work similar to an antidepressant, regulating the amount of serotonin inside the brain.  

CBD may help to relieve seizures

Seizures are the result of irregular and unpredictable electrical brain activity that can cause uncontrolled movements. Anti-seizure drugs are available to help slow this nerve activity in the brain in order to reduce the severity and frequency of seizures.

But CBD has also emerged as an effective way to treat seizures, and some studies have been done to back that up.

Perhaps the most well-known evidence showing the link between CBD use and anti-seizure effects is the story of a young girl named Charlotte Figi, who suffered from Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. By the time Charlotte turned three years old, she was severely disabled as a result of her disease and suffered an average of 300 grand mal seizures per week. 

After very little success with conventional treatment, Charlotte's parents turned to medical marijuana to treat the girls' seizures. Thanks to the use of cannabis oil containing THC, Charlotte's seizures dramatically decreased, both in severity and frequency. A high-CBD, low-THC strain was subsequently developed, known as "Charlotte's Web," which is now widely available.

Since then, CBD has drawn plenty of attention for its medical use, particularly when it comes to treating seizures. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Epidiolex, a prescription form of CBD, to treat certain types of seizures related to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two forms of epilepsy. 

Evidence suggests that CBD may help to protect the brain from trauma

CBD may protect the brain

There is mounting evidence to suggest that CBD may help to protect the brain from trauma. 

When physical trauma to the head occurs, the brain can become severely damaged. It's why athletes in contact sports like football and hockey are required to wear helmets.

Most of the damage to the brain takes place during the recovery period following trauma. Unfortunately, it's common for treatment to come too late, after the damage had already been done. 

Evidence suggests that taking CBD before an injury has even taken place may help protect the brain from trauma-induced damage. 

CBD may help protect the brain by decreasing inflammation in the brain, preventing the oxidation of free radicals (to reduce cellular damage), and slowing down the release of glutamate, an excitatory brain chemical that can be damaging to the brain if it exists in abnormally high levels.

CBD may have neuroprotective properties

People battling neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease, may find CBD helpful in minimizing the symptoms associated with them. Scientists believe that it's the interaction of the CBD with the body's endocannabinoid system that can treat symptoms of neurological disorders. 

For instance, Sativex, a medication that includes both CBD and THC, has been found to be effective at alleviating the muscle spacity that comes with multiple sclerosis. The oral spray is seeking FDA approval, and the manufacturers behind it believe that approval will come soon with other cannabis-based drugs like Epidiolex already approved by the FDA and paving the way.

One particular study found that three-quarters of participants suffering from multiple sclerosis experienced a significant reduction in muscle spasticity that has traditional pharmaceuticals have been unable to treat effectively.

While further human studies are needed to solidify these findings, CBD has already shown some promise in this area.

CBD may relieve nausea

Some studies suggest that CBD may be able to suppress feelings of nausea and may also help prevent vomiting. 

The endocannabinoid system is a transmitter system that controls the functions of the gut, which controls nausea and vomiting. When CBD is introduced to the body, the cannabinoid interacts with these receptors, promoting relief from these uncomfortable symptoms.

CBD may promote cardiovascular health

Recent scientific research suggests that CBD may provide the cardiovascular system with a number of benefits, such as lowering high blood pressure, which has long been associated with the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and metabolic syndrome.  

And while there are plenty of medications available to treat these issues, CBD may be an effective natural alternative. 

Some studies have linked CBD's ability to reduce inflammation to also lower blood pressure and ward off cardiovascular disease. Other studies suggest the positive effects come from CBD's ability to reduce stress and anxiety, which can reduce blood pressure associated with heart disease. 

CBD may promote healthy skin

Acne is a skin condition that is characterized by pimples on the skin as a result of hair follicles becoming clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells. There are a few reasons why people get acne, including inflammation, bacteria, genes, and overproduction of sebum, an oily substance that secreted in the skin. 

Science has shown that CBD may help to combat underlying inflammation while reducing the secretion of sebum to prevent clogging of the pores and thereby reduce the onset of acne breakouts. 

CBD may aid in muscle recovery

An increasing number of competitive athletes are incorporating CBD into their regimen. While some use it to relieve pain, others use it to speed up recovery following vigorous training so they can get back to performing faster. 

CBD is known to reduce inflammation, combat muscle spasms, and alleviate pain. Others claim that it helps them sleep better at night as well, which is precisely when muscles recover. 

Nate Diaz, Ricky Williams, Mike Tyson and Liz Carmouche are just a few athletes who not only embrace cannabis, but also have started their own marijuana-related ventures. 

While more research is required in this realm, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that CBD may be an effective aid for muscle recovery following athletic training.

Remember to always stay hydrated!

How to Stay Safe When Using CBD

What are the Health Risks of Using CBD?

As of late, there are no known dangerous health implications of taking CBD. However, there may be some side effects to using CBD, including:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Dry mouth

Is CBD Legal in the US?

The legal status of CBD in the United States is complicated. Because cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, cannabis-derived CBD remains illegal at the federal level. 

But what about hemp-derived CBD? Under the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp is no longer considered a controlled substance. Many states have also passed legislation to make CBD products legal.  That means as long as the CBD product you buy contains no more than 0.3% THC, it should be legal, right?  

Not exactly. According to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), it's not legal to market or distribute food with added CBD into interstate commerce, even if it's hemp-derived. California’s Department of Public Health also released a hemp CBD FAQ in 2018, which basically says even hemp-derived CBD is illegal in food, beverages and other products — further complicating whether cannabidiol is legal.

Your best bet is to check your state’s laws to determine if CBD is legal where you are.  

Is CBD Safe to use During Pregnancy?

There are tons of symptoms that come with pregnancy. From nausea, vomiting, insomnia, aches and pains, and anxiety, the list is rather long. And sometimes the symptoms can be so bad that some pregnant women seek out medication to help them deal with their pregnancy-related issues. 

But many of the issues mentioned above can be treated with CBD, which research has already shown. Many people take CBD to calm their anxiety, alleviate their nausea, reduce their pain, and help them get better rest. 

We all know that taking illicit drugs during pregnancy is not safe for the unborn baby. There are plenty of studies that have shown a link between taking drugs during pregnancy and complications at birth. 

There may even be some argument to suggest that using a non-synthetic substance like THC-laden marijuana may be unsafe to use during pregnancy. 

For the most part, marijuana isn't widely accepted as safe for use throughout pregnancy or while nursing. Some research suggests that THC can transfer from the mother to the fetus through breast milk and could potentially impact infant development. Marijuana could also negatively impact uterine blood flow.

But what about CBD? Even though it may come from the cannabis plant - which is still considered an illicit substance under federal law - CBD cannot be classified under the same category as what most would assume an illicit drug to be. 

Because hemp-derived CBD has such a low percentage of THC, it’s a safer alternative. 

It's this difference that matters most when it comes to pregnant women who want to take CBD. While there is still limited research when it comes to CBD and pregnancy, expecting mothers who are looking to use CBD would likely be safer by choosing hemp-based products. CBD that is sourced from industrial hemp contains little, if any, THC. 

Marijuana-derived CBD, on the other hand, may be something that pregnant women may want to steer clear of, even though CBD that's extracted from hemp or marijuana is identical on a molecular level. But to stay safe, pregnant women would be better off with hemp-based CBD.

How Much CBD Should you Take? 

There really isn't any one particular universal dosage of CBD; instead, the amount recommended will be based on an individual basis. 

The amount of CBD you should take depends on a few variables, such as your weight and body composition, the product you’re taking, and your goal for using the product. 

Studies on dosages suggest anywhere between 20mg to 1,500mg per day — which is an incredibly wide range for a beginner.

If you're new to taking CBD oil, then it's recommended that you start with small doses and gradually work your way up to find your "sweet spot." Look for products that contain precise doses of CBD (5-10 mg), and start by ingesting one dose. Wait an hour or two to see how CBD affects you. 

If you’ve achieved the result you’re looking for, great! You’ve found your dose! If not, take another small dose, wait, and evaluate. Finding the perfect dose is trial-and-error, so it’s always best to take it low and slow. 

Final Thoughts

While the use of cannabis has been around for what seems like forever, the emergence and use of CBD is relatively new. And thanks to ongoing research, we're finding out more and more about the miraculous benefits that CBD can have on our health and how effective it may be as an alternative or complement to traditional medicine.