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What is CBD? The Ultimate Guide to Cannabidiol

CBD (short for Cannabidiol) has taken the natural remedy industry by a loud storm in the past decades, becoming a top choice for lifestyle improvement and health management.

CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid compound, the second most dominant ingredient in the Cannabis Sativa Plant. Lots of people still battle with trust issues, misinformation and doubts regarding the compound, its many product forms, and its range of benefits. Our experts’ draw on years of scientific expertise and research to explain the effects of cbd and its common terms, such as cannabinoids, hemp, marijuana, terpenes, and THC.

What are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are natural chemical compounds extracted from the leaves and other parts of the flowering plant, Cannabis Sativa. There are over 500 compounds found in cannabis plants, with about 100 of them identifying as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are known to induce the effects of relaxation and euphoria (on different levels) across the body's major systems. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are perhaps the most famous of the cannabinoids, occuring in abundance compared to the lesser-known ones including cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG).

How do cannabinoids work?

Cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) by replicating the bodys’ naturally occurring endocannabinoids. The ECS is a complex system that helps regulate critical functions like sleep, memory, pain, emotions, metabolism, and immune responses.

Cannabinoids, being structurally similar to endocannabinoids, bind to ECS receptors to improve their key functions. They’re so similar to the compounds in our bodies that they fit into the ECS system seamlessly. The components of CBD fit with the cannabinoid receptors that don’t cause a “high” feeling. These cannabinoids target receptors that affect sleep and inflammation, among others.

CBD vs THC: Top three differences

There are dozens of cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the most prominent and highly researched. The two are very similar chemically, but the fact that THC causes a “high” and CBD does not has piqued the interest of scientists and doctors.

The biggest differences in the two are regarding psychoactivity, molecular structure, and source.

Psychoactivity

THC is the main element in cannabis linked to the “high” or euphoric feeling. It can affect mood, sleep, appetite, and energy levels to cause psychedelic effects.

CBD does not cause any psychedelic effects or cause a “high” feeling. The effects of CBD consist of the physical, such as inflammation levels or sleep. CBD also doesn't have the long-term insomnia and memory loss associated with THC.

Molecular structure

Both THC and CBD have the same chemical composition and mass: 21 atoms of carbon, 30 atoms of hydrogen and 2 atoms of oxygen. They have slightly different molecular arrangements that are responsible for the differing reactions within the brain.

The result is that THC has a stronger, more potent effect than the milder CBD.

Pharmaceutical uses

CBD and THC have a large overlap when it comes to medical uses. They’re both used in healthcare to enhance or alter the performance of neurotransmitters.

THC is mainly used to treat nausea, appetite issues, and muscular spasticity. CBD is used in the treatment of seizures, mood disorders, inflammation, and also appetite.

CBD products range from topical ointments, capsules, tinctures, to edibles. The CBD medication doesn’t produce feelings of euphoria or psychoactive changes.

Potential Benefits

While there are numerous speculated benefits of CBD, only one is considered to be proven. The Epidiolex drug, which is globally accepted, uses CBD to treat various seizure disorders. By acting on the GPR55 and TRPV1 receptors, cannabidiol reduces neuron sensitivity and limits seizures.

Other potential CBD uses: 

CBD may help with chronic pain

Cannabidiol imitates analgesic brain activities when it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors. This reaction inhibits brain systems that pass along pain sensations. The use of CBD for pain is becoming more widespread as new research uncovers its many potential benefits.

CBII's CBD oil drops use this science to alleviate pain and body aches.

CBD could help boost your mood

Studies are also discovering CBD to influence anxiety levels. CBD has the potential to support the activity of CB1 receptors, which would help to decrease anxiety. CBD has also been shown to work with the brain’s serotonin receptors in a positive way. Serotonin is responsible for mood regulation and memory.

CBII's CBD gummies are a tasty way to get your daily dose of CBD. These CBD infused treats are completely natural and aim to provide the full, “entourage effect” relief.

CBD for Sleep

CBD may improve sleep by reducing anxiety and invoking calmness in the mind and body. It promotes relaxation without fatigue or drowsiness. CBD for sleep is growing in popularity as science is able to research its effects.

CBDII’s nighttime CBD oils with full-spectrum plant extract are a great way to unwind at the end of the day. The Unwind CBD candle is a fabulous addition for nighttime routine tranquillity.

CBD for relaxation

CBD interacts with brain receptors to calm stress response neurons and support relaxation. The right amount of CBD can significantly help to manage chronic stress. The recommended dosage of CBD for stress is lower than the dose for targeting pain and inflammation. CBII's No Stress Set has all the essentials – CBD oil drops and CBD gummies – for targeting stress.

CBD may help with menopause symptoms

CBD is by no means a cure-all for menopause troubles, but it can help manage the discomfort and sometimes debilitating symptoms. Using CBD for menopause is gaining momentum because it’s both natural and full-spectrum.

CBD supplements like gummies, tinctures, or salves can be applied any time of day, whenever the uncomfortable symptoms arise.

Is CBD addictive?

There have been no findings to suggest that CBD is addictive. Since it isn’t psychoactive, the risk of CBD addiction or CBD dependance is significantly diminished. Scientists are still researching CBD and its properties, but no evidence has been discovered thus far.

Is CBD legal in the UK?

In 2018, the UK legalised CBD products containing 0.2% THC or less. Further restrictions require that cannabidiol is sourced from approved hemp strains. This means the CBD must be derived from hemp rather than cannabis.

All CBII CBD products contain 0.2% of THC or less and are derived from approved hemp strains.

Hemp vs Cannabis: Where does CBD come from exactly?

Cannabis plants are typically divided into three species: Cannabis ruderalis, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis sativa. Cannabis and hemp are both plants under the Cannabis Sativa umbrella. The main difference is that cannabis contains high levels of THC, whereas hemp contains high levels of CBD. Hemp has significantly lower THC levels and thus is preferred for CBD extraction and synthesis.

Hemp plant

Hemp is used for various purposes, from textiles to bioplastics to biofuel. Its versatility has put it at the forefront of conversations surrounding sustainable solutions.

Being less than 0.3% THC and non-psychoactive, hemp is legal and unregulated in most parts of the world. Hemp leaves are the CBD-containing part of the plant, though the stalk and roots contain their fair share of healthy and useful purposes.

Cannabis plant (marijuana)

The cannabis plant, also known as marijuana, is used for recreational purposes. The plant contains 10-25% THC, making it highly psychoactive and tightly regulated in most parts of the world. Cannabis is what most people refer to when they think of the euphoria-educing marijuana plant. Marijuana contains CBD levels 20% and above, giving it a high level of both cannabinoid types.

Depending on the THC level, cannabis can be classified as a Type I or Type II sativa.

Hemp CBD vs Cannabis CBD

At a glance, hemp CBD and cannabis CBD look the same. In fact, they have identical structures. The difference lies in their composition. Cannabis CBD tends to have much higher THC levels, whereas hemp CBD usually has extremely low levels of THC.

Because of this, most countries favour and allow hemp CBD while banishing cannabis CBD. Note that legal CBD oils must have 0.2% or less THC, so it makes sense that hemp CBD is the preferred option.

Legally-sourced hemp

We know that many CBD sellers use unapproved hemp plants and questionable testing partners. At CBII, our products are sourced from the highest quality licensed farmers in the EU. We only work with naturally grown, non-GMO hemp plants to ensure that all of our products are as close to nature as possible.

Our products are tested by an independent, third-party company so that each batch has guaranteed quality and potency. This testing ensures our hemp CBD products are top of the line, meeting the highest quality standards.

Types of CBD

Cannabis plants contain over 400 different compounds, including CBD and THC. During the purification process, some of the other compounds are extracted with the CBD. It’s rarely ever 100% pure CBD alone because of the chemistry of the plant.

The different compounds of each extraction determine how CBD is classified. There are three CBD types: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and pure isolate. These three classifications differ in concentration and compound content.

Full-spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD contains many naturally occurring cannabis compounds, including CBD cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. Because full-spectrum CBD maintains other compounds native to the plant, it can provide a wide range of benefits and solutions. This is because CBD functions more effectively in conjunction with the other naturally occurring molecules. The THC content is 0.2% or less, per the current rules and regulations. At CBII, we use full-spectrum CBD in order to provide the “entourage effect.” Studies have shown that the effects of full-spectrum CBD are stronger when other plant compounds are still present.

Broad-spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD also contains the naturally occurring cannabis compounds like flavonoids and terpenes. The main difference from full-spectrum CBD is that broad-spectrum CBD typically contains less THC. Though 0.2% is hardly enough to feel any psychoactive effects, broad-spectrum CBD may be preferable to those who want as little THC as possible while still maintaining the other compounds.

The idea behind this is that CBD cannabinoids function better in the presence of at least some THC.

CBD Isolates

CBD isolate is pure, 100% CBD. It contains no other cannabis compounds and no THC. Scientists process crude cannabis oil to extract everything except for the cannabidiol. The result is a crystalline powder of pure CBD extract.

CBD isolate may be a desirable option for those who want to try CBD without any of its partner compounds like THC.

Secondary cannabis compounds within CBD spectrums

Though CBD and THC are the most widely known and abundant compounds in cannabis sativa, the plant is jam-packed with other valuable components.

The lesser discussed compounds react with CBD cannabinoids to improve the reactivity in the brain and enhance its effectiveness.

Terpenes

Terpenes give cannabis plants their signature bitter smell and taste. This pungent aroma protects the plants from insects who dislike the intense flavour.

Terpenes vary from plant to plant, which is why strains of cannabis have slightly different scents and effects. Some smell stronger than others, and some are known to alter moods in different ways.

Terpenes are produced in the trichomes and are a secondary cannabis compound.

Flavonoids

Flavonoids are the second most abundant secondary compound after Terpenes. Flavonoids, found in thousands of plant types, give cannabis its bright green colour and bitter flavour. They function to protect plants from UV rays and attract pollinators.

They’re one of the secondary compounds that, alongside CBD, react with the ECS to improve certain bodily functions. Cannabis flavonoids are cannflavins A, B, and C. These flavonoids are only produced in cannabis, and studies show they may have antioxidant and anti-cancerous properties.

Cannabichromene (CBC)

Cannabichromene (CBC) falls under flavonoids in terms of quantity. Like cannabidiol, cannabichromene is not psychoactive and doesn’t contribute to the euphoric feeling associated with THC.

Scientists are still studying CBC to understand its full scope and potential benefits. Up to this point, it’s thought to enhance the inflammation-reducing effects of CBD. Exciting findings suggest that CBC, if processed correctly, has the potential to provide a new scope of benefits in the future.

Cannabinol (CBN)

Cannabinol (CBN) is produced during the THC heat distillation process. No, it doesn’t occur naturally in cannabis plants. It is a byproduct of the production process.

CBN is roughly 75% weaker than THC but is still somewhat psychoactive. Scientists suspect it plays a role in improving appetite, but more studies need to be done.

Cannabigerol (CBG)

Cannabigerol (CBG) only appears in cannabis in trace amounts, and usually only in non-matured plants. CBG is thought to potentially treat physical ailments like glaucoma and gastrointestinal disorders. Like CBD, it’s non-psychoactive on its own.

Because CBG is found in minimal quantities in cannabidiol plants, it’s harder to come by. Even so, CBG oil is available for purchase in pure form and in full-spectrum variations

Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA)

Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA) is a less abundant cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp plants. The reason for its rarity is because it converts into different cannabinoid lines that eventually turn into THC, CBD, and CBC. It is typically found in young plants before the breakdown process begins.

CBGA is usually one of the compounds in full-spectrum CBD extract products. Researchers are shedding light on its possible benefits within the digestive system, including nausea and metabolic disorders.

The entourage effect

Numerous studies have resulted in something called “the entourage effect.” The presence of secondary compounds (flavonoids, terpenes, etc) enhance the effects of CBD and make it much more therapeutic. When CBD is stripped down to 100% pure CBD oil, it’s weaker than it was with its naturally occurring neighbours. Each compound plays a part in the ECS interaction. Flavonoids and terpenes have even been found to kill respiratory pathogens and reduce inflammation. This finding is why full-spectrum CBD is favoured over pure CBD oil - it maintains the natural relationship between cannabis and the brain. Because it contains essential secondary compounds, full-spectrum CBD has a number of uses, from stress relief to pain reduction.

Forms of CBD

The CBD market is booming. Consumers now have a wide variety of choices regarding product form, potency, and functionality. Consumers can choose between oils, capsules, salves, beverages, and more.

Changing the absorption method can alter how strong and quickly the effects kick in. Many people report differing experiences with each product. Preferences vary across dosages, forms, and spectrums.

CBII offers CBD products in just about every form, including oils, gummies, lotions, and candles. All of our products are sourced from the highest quality hemp farms and always third-party tested for CBD content.

CBD Oils

CBD oil drops are a straightforward, efficient method of administering CBD. They’re dispensed from an oil dropper under the tongue and absorbed very quickly compared to other forms.

CBD oils are often confused with tinctures. Whereas tinctures separate the CBD using an alcohol solvent, oil drops extract CBD oil using carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 evaporates, leaving full-spectrum CBD oil for cultivation.

CBII oil drops are of the highest standard. All products are vegan and GMO-free, only sourced from approved hemp farmers. Our oils contain 0.2% or less THC, while maintaining full-spectrum capabilities.

CBD tinctures

Tinctures appear the same as oil drops but are created using a much different process. As mentioned above, oral CBD tinctures extract CBD with an alcohol solvent that dilutes the oil, heats it, and yields full-spectrum CBD oil. They can come in different potencies and flavours. When buying CBD tinctures, consider the company’s manufacturing and testing process. Tinctures can maintain some alcohol if not processed properly.

CBD gummies

CBD gummies make getting your daily dose of CBD tasty and fun. This form is becoming more popular, with companies offering a variety of flavours, potencies, and packaging styles.

Gummies are typically made using gelatin or fruit pectin. Gelatin and flavouring are mixed with CBD extract and moulded into convenient candies. These CBD products come in a myriad of flavours, colors, shapes, and sizes.

CBII CBD gummies are all vegan, GMO-free, and made with natural cane sugar to align with our customers’ health priorities. They’re guaranteed full-spectrum – maintaining the cannabis’ multi-benefit effects. We also offer a variety of flavours:

  • Watermelon
  • Raspberry
  • Tangerine
  • Lemon

CBD Candles

CBD candles are a new, unconventional way to enjoy the benefits of CBD. They make it possible to receive CBD treatment through aromatherapy. The candles serve various purposes, from energising to relaxing to restoring.

CBII candles are hand-poured with CBD oil, hemp wax, and natural essential oils. They fill the room with gentle, relaxing warmth and scents of lavender, bergamot, and neroli. Our candles are all natural – only made with hemp seed wax and less than 0.1% of CBD.

CBD topicals

CBD-infused lotions and salves work by absorbing the CBD through the skin. These topical products are generally in the form of soaps, creams, face oils, balms, or lotions. Though topical CBD products have lower effectiveness than orally administered ones, they’re valuable for those seeking CBD's anti-inflammatory benefits.

CBII’s natural CBD balm is lightweight, gently scented, and THC free.

CBD capsules

CBD capsules take the form of small gelatinous pills filled with CBD oil. They often contain other vitamins and nutrients as a compliment.

This form of CBD medication is best for those who don’t want to taste or smell anything. They’re convenient and absorbed relatively quickly, depending on how much you eat with them.

CBII CBD capsules are fortified with vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and ginseng – providing various health benefits.

CBD Bath bombs

CBD bath bombs are a fun and exciting way to use CBD. They’re made with natural scents like lavender or patchouli and contain Epsom salts, coconut oil, or other natural products good for the skin.

Bath bombs dissolve in hot water, steaming up bathtime and providing a relaxing way to find pain relief or skin soothing.

CBD vapes

CBD vapes contain various juices and CBD isolate. A vaporizer heats the ingredients into a steam to be inhaled. They're an oral CBD option that doesn't involve eating or drinking the CBD. The juices are typically made from vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol. You can make them yourself or buy them pre-made.

Note that CBD vapes do not contain CBD oil, but CBD isolate. CBD oil is not safe to ingest.

How to take CBD products

When first starting out, it's always recommended to start with a low dosage and work your way up slowly based on your body's reaction. CBD dosages differ depending on the form and desired effects. For example, the dose for stress relief is less than the recommended dose for pain relief.

Here are a few general guidelines to follow:

  • Do not exceed 1500 mg daily.
  • Always follow CBD prescriptions if you have one.
  • Start with the minimum dose and listen to your body's reaction.
  • Beginners trying gummies can start with 20mg daily, not exceeding 75mg.
  • Beginners trying oil should start with two drops of 20mg CBD oil per day.
  • Topicals can be used daily.
  • Bath bombs should be used once per week.
  • Only use high-quality vaporizers and wait 20 minutes between draws.

Possible side effects of CBD

The general consensus from researchers and doctors is that CBD is entirely safe. The majority of people tolerate CBD well and experience positive reactions. Side effects can occur when taken in excess:

  • Appetite loss
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

If you're experiencing negative side effects from CBD, discontinue use and consult with your doctor. You may be taking the wrong dose or form. A CBD overdose is highly improbable, even in high doses. Of course, always be cautious of your dosage to avoid any risks.

Contraindications of CBD

There are few cases where doctors recommend people to stay away from CBD. For example, pregnant and breastfeeding people should avoid CBD because of its potential effects on the foetus.

Some drugs have CBD interactions, including antidepressants, heart rhythm stabilisers, certain seizure medications, opioid analgesics, blood thinners, and THC.

Before taking CBD, talk with your doctor about why and how much is right for you.

CBII's awards

CBII is a multiple-award winning, trusted brand for CBD products in the UK. Our dedication to quality and safety is paramount to every product we market. CBII's CBD gummies won the Hip & Health CBD Awards for 2022, and the Unwind candle was a finalist nominee for the 2022 Natural Health Beauty Awards. Because of our commitment to producing trustworthy, natural products, we're trusted like Jamie Genevieve, an avid user of the 500mg CBD oil

Still curious? Ask our experts

We know CBD can be confusing, especially if you’re just starting out. Still have a question or need some advice around CBD? Our experts are here to help. Give us a call on 01793 374130, email us or get in touch via social with any questions.

And don’t just take our word for it. See what other CBII users are saying about their experience on TrustPilot.

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