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What Is CBD?

What is CBD? CBD – short for cannabidiol – is one of many cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa or hemp plant. Essentially, it is one of the hundreds of chemical compounds found in the Cannabis plant and has been shown to have many therapeutic and potential pharmacological properties.

The unique cultivar or strain of Cannabis is ultimately going to determine the different levels of cannabinoids that will be contained in it. The two most prominent cannabinoids are CBD and THC, and strains of the plant are genetically bred to be rich in one or the other (or both). Typically, industrial hemp is cultivated for its multipurpose stalks, stems, and seeds (and CBD content), and marijuana is the strain that produces high levels of THC that is used for medicinal and recreational purposes. However, CBD can be derived from both marijuana and industrial hemp.

There are some significant distinctions that need to be made between CBD and delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the two most dominant and prevalent cannabinoids found in Cannabis. CBD is non-psychoactive and will not produce a mental fog or high like its notorious cousin THC. THC is known for not only getting users high but also leading to paranoia and anxiety—CBD has been shown in studies to produce the completely opposite effects. It has shown in preclinical studies (like this one) to counteract the anxiety produced by THC. However, THC and more recently CBD are being explored for their medicinal benefits and the findings are promising.

What makes CBD and other cannabinoids unique is their ability to interact with the body. The body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) interacts with cannabinoids produced by the body as well as those ingested from external sources (such as from hemp). What that means is our body is designed to accept and utilize cannabinoids in a way that promotes health and balance (more on this in the “How does CBD oil work with the body?”).