NowPatient Blog
What is CBD?

What is CBD?

Rajive Patel NowPatientGreen tick
Updated on 10 Nov 2023

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. It is one of over 100 cannabinoids present in the plant, with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) being the most well-known and psychoactive compound. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a “high” or intoxicating effect, making it an appealing option for those seeking the potential health benefits of cannabis without the mind-altering effects.

CBD and its origins

Cannabis has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. The use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes dates back to ancient civilizations in China, India, and Egypt. However, it wasn’t until the 1940s that CBD was first isolated and its chemical structure identified. Since then, scientific research on CBD has grown, shedding light on its potential therapeutic applications.

Differentiating CBD from THC

CBD and THC are two of the most well-known cannabinoids found in cannabis. While they come from the same plant, they have distinct properties and effects. THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, often associated with feeling “high.” CBD, on the other hand, does not produce intoxicating effects and is believed to have a range of potential health benefits.

CBD from Hemp vs. m-Hemp Plants

CBD can be derived from both hemp and non-hemp plants. Hemp is a variety of cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC, as defined by the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act. CBD derived from hemp is legal at the federal level in the United States, provided it meets the legal requirements. CBD derived from non-hemp plants may contain higher levels of THC and is subject to different regulations.

Legality of CBD

The legality of CBD varies depending on several factors, including the source of CBD, the concentration of THC, and state laws.

The 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act

In 2018, the U.S. Congress passed the Agriculture Improvement Act, also known as the Farm Bill. This legislation removed hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act, effectively legalizing CBD derived from hemp at the federal level. It defined hemp as any part of the cannabis sativa plant with less than 0.3% THC.

State laws and CBD

While CBD derived from hemp is legal at the federal level, individual states have the authority to regulate CBD within their borders. Some states have embraced the legalization of CBD, allowing its use for both medical and recreational purposes. However, other states have stricter regulations, and CBD may be legal only for specific medical conditions. It is important to research and understand the laws in your state before purchasing or using CBD products.

How CBD works

To understand how CBD works, it is essential to explore the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex network of receptors and neurotransmitters in the human body.

The endocannabinoid system

The endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis, or balance, within the body. It consists of three main components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds produced by the body that bind to cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are found throughout the body and are involved in regulating various physiological processes, including mood, sleep, appetite, and immune function.

CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system by indirectly influencing the activity of cannabinoid receptors. Unlike THC, which binds directly to cannabinoid receptors, CBD has a more complex mechanism of action. It is believed to modulate the activity of receptors, promoting balance and enhancing the body’s natural endocannabinoid signaling. This interaction with the endocannabinoid system is thought to contribute to CBD’s potential therapeutic effects.

Potential health benefits of CBD

CBD has gained attention for its potential health benefits and therapeutic properties. While research is still ongoing, preliminary clinical trials suggest that CBD may be effective in managing various conditions. Here are some of the potential health benefits associated with CBD:

Pain management

One of the most well-known uses of CBD is for pain management. CBD has been shown to have analgesic properties (pain relief), potentially reducing pain and inflammation. The science is emerging to support its use, especially at a time when most people want to avoid addicting opioids while treating chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.

Anxiety and depression

CBD has been studied for its potential anxiolytic and antidepressant effects. It may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression by interacting with serotonin receptors in the brain. Some studies have shown promising results in reducing anxiety in individuals with social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Sleep disorders

CBD has been reported to have potential sleep-inducing properties and may help individuals with sleep disorders, such as insomnia. It may also improve sleep quality and reduce disturbances during sleep.

Neurological disorders

Research suggests that CBD may have neuroprotective properties and may be beneficial for individuals with neurological disorders, such as epilepsy. In fact, the FDA has approved a CBD-based medication called Epidiolex for the treatment of certain types of epilepsy.

Skin conditions

CBD has gained popularity in the skincare industry for its potential benefits for skin health. It may help reduce inflammation and soothe skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. CBD-infused topicals, such as creams and balms, are commonly used for localized relief.

Safety considerations

While CBD is generally considered safe for most individuals, it is important to be aware of potential risks and safety considerations. Here are some important points to consider before using CBD:

FDA-approved CBD medications

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one CBD-based medication, Epidiolex, for the treatment of a range of seizure disorders such as severe forms of epilepsy, Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and tuberous sclerosis complex in people one year of age and older. It comprises of an active ingredient derived from marijuana. This medication has undergone rigorous testing and is considered safe and effective for its intended use. Other CBD products, however, have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA. Because CBD was approved as the active ingredient in the antiseizure medicine Epidiolex, the FDA considers it a drug

Potential side effects

CBD is generally well-tolerated, but some individuals may experience adverse effects. Common side effects of CBD may include dry mouth, drowsiness, fatigue, and changes in appetite. In rare cases, high doses of CBD may cause liver damage. It is important to start with a low dose and monitor your body’s response.

Drug interactions

CBD has the potential to interact with certain medications. It can inhibit the activity of liver enzymes responsible for metabolizing drugs, potentially leading to higher levels of certain medications in the bloodstream. If you are taking any medications, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider before using CBD.

CBD and pregnancy

The use of CBD during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not recommended. The potential effects of CBD on fetal development are still unknown, and high doses of CBD have been associated with negative effects on developing fetuses in animal studies. It is best to err on the side of caution and avoid CBD during pregnancy.

CBD and children

The effects of CBD on children’s developing brains are not well understood. As a precautionary measure, it is recommended to avoid giving CBD products to children without the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Methods of CBD consumption

CBD is available in various formulations, allowing individuals to choose the method of consumption that best suits their needs. Here are some common methods of CBD consumption:

CBD oil

CBD oil is one of the most popular and versatile forms of CBD. It is typically consumed sublingually, by placing a few drops of oil under the tongue and holding it for a minute before swallowing. CBD oil can also be added to food and beverages or applied topically.

CBD edibles

CBD edibles include a wide range of products, such as gummies, chocolates, and baked goods, infused with CBD. Edibles offer a convenient and discreet way to consume CBD, but they may have a delayed onset of effects due to the digestive process.

CBD topicals

CBD topicals are products applied directly to the skin, such as creams, lotions, and balms. They are commonly used for localized relief of pain, inflammation, or skin conditions. Topicals are absorbed through the skin and do not enter the bloodstream.

CBD vaping

Vaping involves inhaling CBD vapor using a vape pen or vaporizer device. This method allows for quick absorption of CBD into the bloodstream through the lungs. It is important to choose high-quality vape products and be cautious of potential risks associated with vaping.

CBD capsules

CBD capsules are oral supplements that contain a pre-measured dose of CBD. They are convenient and easy to incorporate into a daily routine. Capsules are swallowed and metabolized by the digestive system, with effects typically lasting longer than other methods.

Finding quality CBD products

With the growing popularity of CBD, it is crucial to find high-quality products that meet safety and efficacy standards. Here are some factors to consider when selecting CBD products:

Third-party lab testing

Reputable CBD brands often provide third-party lab testing results, also known as a Certificate of Analysis (COA). These reports verify the potency and purity of the CBD product, ensuring it does not contain harmful contaminants or excessive levels of THC.

Understanding CBD labels

CBD product labels should provide clear information about the CBD content, serving size, and any additional ingredients. Look for labels that specify the CBD concentration in milligrams per serving and ensure that the product contains the desired amount of CBD.

Choosing a reputable brand

Research the brand’s reputation and customer reviews before purchasing CBD products. Look for brands that prioritize transparency, quality, and ethical sourcing practices. Consider brands that follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and have a solid track record in the industry.

Dosage recommendations

Determining the appropriate CBD dosage can be challenging, as it varies depending on individual factors such as body weight, metabolism, and the condition being treated. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

Start low and go slow

When starting CBD, it is recommended to begin with the lowest effective dose and gradually increase as needed. This allows you to assess your body’s response and find the optimal dosage for your specific needs.

Consulting with a healthcare professional

If you have specific health concerns or are currently taking medications, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting CBD. They can provide personalized guidance and help you determine the appropriate dosage based on your individual circumstances.

Finding the right dosage

Finding the right dosage may require some trial and error. It is important to listen to your body and pay attention to how you feel after taking CBD. Adjust the dosage as needed to achieve the desired effects of cannabidiol while minimizing any potential side effects.

Potential risks and side effects

While CBD is generally well-tolerated, there are some potential risks and side effects to be aware of. Here are a few important considerations:

Regulation and product quality

The CBD market is still relatively unregulated, and not all products on the market meet the same quality standards. Some products may contain inaccurate CBD labeling, harmful contaminants, or excessive levels of THC. It is important to purchase CBD products from reputable brands that prioritize quality and transparency.

Adverse reactions

While rare, some individuals may experience adverse reactions to CBD. These may include drowsiness, fatigue, dry mouth, or changes in appetite. If you experience any severe or persistent side effects, discontinue use and consult with a healthcare professional. Consult a doctor before using CBD, as it may interact with certain over-the-counter dietary supplements and medicines, as well as some prescription drugs.

Long-term effects

The long-term effects of CBD use are still not well understood, as research in this area is ongoing. It is important to use CBD responsibly and monitor your body’s response. If you have any concerns about long-term use, consult with a healthcare professional.


CBD has emerged as a popular natural remedy with potential therapeutic benefits. From pain management to anxiety relief, CBD has shown promise in addressing a wide range of conditions. However, it is important to approach CBD with caution and seek reliable information. Understanding the origins, legality, and potential risks associated with CBD is crucial for making informed decisions. As research continues to uncover the true potential of CBD, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating CBD into your wellness routine. With proper knowledge and responsible use, CBD may offer a natural alternative for those seeking relief and improved well-being.


Medical Disclaimer

NowPatient has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all material is factually accurate, complete, and current. However, the knowledge and experience of a qualified healthcare professional should always be sought after instead of using the information on this page. Before taking any drug, you should always speak to your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.

The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.

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