CBD 101: A Comprehensive Introduction to Cannabidiol (CBD)

CBD has been gaining in popularity over the past few years and shows no signs of slowing down.  In this comprehensive introduction to CBD, we’ll deep into what CBD is, how it works, and its potential benefits and risks.  You can utilize this introduction to help determine whether CBD is right for you!

Whether you’re a total newbie or simply looking to brush up on some basic CBD information, our CBD 101 is here for you:


What is CBD?

CBD, short for cannabidiol (pronounced ca-nuh-bi-DYE-ol), is a naturally occurring, non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis plants. While it has been around for centuries, and is linked to ancient Chinese medicine and revered for its relaxation, healing, and pain management properties, CBD has recently re-gained popularity as a natural remedy for various ailments, including anxiety, depression, pain, and inflammation.

CBD is one of over 100 compounds, known as cannabinoids (specifically phytocannabinoids), that naturally occur within the cannabis plant.  CBD is extracted from the plant and either concentrated into oils and distillates or extracted into isolates – which are then used to infuse products for various forms of ingestion.  CBD flower, or hemp flower, can also be smoked directly – in exactly the same way marijuana flower can be smoked.


Is CBD Legal?

Yes! The Farm Bill of 2018, legalized the use of non-THC cannabinoids from the hemp plant grown according to the specifications laid out by the legislation. Put simply, CBD is legal at the federal level!

Hemp vs. Marijuana

A quick lesson on hemp vs. marijuana: they are both botanical classes of the Cannabis Sativa plant, but tend to be grown for different reasons, resulting in different uses. Marijuana tends to have higher concentrations of THC and is typically grown for recreational, entheogenic, and medicinal purposes. Hemp is grown specifically for industrial and medicinal use, has naturally lower concentrations of THC, and higher concentrations of CBD. 

A way to distinguish hemp is by its federally legal definition: cannabis and cannabis derivatives with extremely low (no more than 0.3%) amounts of THC.

Legality Continued

Hemp is defined as cannabis and cannabis derivatives with extremely low (no more than 0.3%) amounts of THC. The Farm Bill declassified hemp from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, allowing it to play a larger role in the agricultural industry.

Some states have their own hemp laws that do not mirror the Farm Bill. This handy chart from Leafly includes each state and explains the restrictions. Alaska, for example, has bans on CBD-infused food and beverages, while in Delaware all hemp growers must be affiliated with Delaware State University. The only states which have their own restrictions against CBD are Idaho, Iowa, and South Dakota, but federally, CBD is legal everywhere. 


How Does CBD Work?

In recent years, CBD has been the subject of increasing research. Thanks to that increased scrutiny, we have a better understanding now than ever before about how CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system.

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex cell-signaling system that regulates various bodily functions, including mood, memory, appetite, reproduction, sleep, and pain. The ECS consists of three main components: endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced naturally in the body – the prefix “endo” means internal – and yes, you read that correctly: your body producing these naturally), receptors (CB1 and CB2), and enzymes that break down endocannabinoids.

The primary function of the ECS is to maintain balance, or homeostasis, within the body. It achieves this through the use of endocannabinoids and specialized receptors, CB1 and CB2, located throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as the immune system. When the body identifies an imbalance in a process that is regulated by the endocannabinoid system, it produces cannabinoids that interact with these receptors, helping to restore balance and promote overall health and wellbeing.

The body’s naturally-occurring endocannabinoids are very similar to cannabis-derived cannabinoids like CBD and THC. In fact, researchers currently believe that consuming cannabinoids may help the ECS maintain homeostasis within the body. 

Despite the growing interest in CBD and its health benefits, there is still much that we don’t know about how it works in the body.  Moreover, the endocannabinoid system itself is complex and not fully understood by experts, with many of its receptors and functions still being discovered. While CBD is proven to interact with the endocannabinoid system, as detailed above, researchers are still trying to understand the specific mechanisms by which it exerts its effects.  Curious of what we do know about the health benefits and side effects?  Keep reading!


Will CBD get me “high”?

Simply put: no.  CBD is non-intoxicating.

Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psychoactive cannabinoid and the one you’re likely familiar with for providing the “high” associated with marijuana, CBD is non-intoxicating, which means it doesn’t cause a “high” or alter one’s state of mind.  While CBD is technically a psychoactive compound, it does not produce the intoxicating effects that are commonly associated with the use of THC or smoking marijuana.

Fun fact: there is a synergistic relationship and response pattern, known as the “Entourage Effect”, where all the natural cannabinoids work together to assist in executing their different functions and potential benefits.  Read more about it in our educational resource article here.


Applications and Effects of CBD

CBD has been touted for its therapeutic benefits.  While research on CBD is still in its early stages, studies have suggested that CBD may have a variety of physical and mental health benefits, including:

  • Pain Relief & Anti-inflammatory: Studies have shown CBD helps reduce chronic and nerve pain, as well as reducing inflammation. Numerous studies are exploring the role that CBD can have in chronic pain relief, with this 2020 study concluding that CBD is a well-tolerated and safe natural compound exerting analgesic effects in animal models alongside clinical studies.
  • Anxiety & Depression: In a 2019 study, CBD was found to decrease anxiety within the first month of use.  Consumers and studies have reported using CBD for anxiety, stress, and depression with millions of accounts of quality of life improvements.  
  • Epilepsy: CBD has been approved by the FDA as a treatment for two forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, and seizures caused by tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) as it can reduce seizure frequency.
  • Promoting Sleep & Treating Insomnia: Clinical trials show that CBD can help promote longer sleep and consumer reports detail being able to fall asleep more quickly, sleeping for longer, and getting a more restful night’s sleep.  In a 2019 study, CBD was found to improve sleep scores within the first month in 48 patients, as well as decreasing anxiety within the first month in 57 patients. 
  • Neuroprotective Properties: Studies have shown that CBD may have neuroprotective properties, which means it may help protect the brain from damage caused by neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  It is specifically believed that CBD promotes regeneration during sleep.
  • Combating Addiction: Research in humans shows that CBD can help lower cravings for certain substances, like tobacco (nicotine) and even heroin.

*Additional potential benefits of CBD include helping reduce cancer symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment; reduction in acne through the use of CBD oil; benefits for neurological disorders; and heart health.

It’s important to note that CBD is not a miracle cure and there is currently lot of hype and shady marketing surrounding CBD. As CBD research is in its infancy, more studies are needed to fully conclude the effects and potential benefits of CBD.

CBD has improved the quality of life of millions, however that does not mean it works for everyone.  Everyone’s body is different and, as such, each individual’s mileage may vary.  At ALINE cannabis, we have a 30-day guarantee so you can give it a try risk-free.


How should I take CBD?  And how long does it last?

Bioavailability refers to the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into the bloodstream and able to produce effects in the body. With CBD, bioavailability can vary depending on the method of consumption and each method has its own unique advantages and disadvantages.  Curious as to how long the effects of CBD last?  Here’s a breakdown of the bioavailability of some common methods of consuming CBD:

  • Oral: through edibles, tinctures, capsules, or beverages, oral consumption is the most typical way that CBD is consumed.  Using this method, CBD reaches the blood stream only after passing through the digestive system and liver.  The onset of effects can take 30-60 minutes, on an empty stomach, or longer with a full stomach, and typically last 4-6 hours.
    • BIOAVAILABILITY: Oral consumption has a lower bioavailability than sublingual or inhalation, with estimates ranging from 6-20%.  This is because of the journey it takes through the body, which can result in some of the CBD being metabolized and eliminated before it reaches the bloodstream.
  • Sublingual: commonly used by those who want to get the most out of their CBD oils and tinctures.  It involves placing a dose of CBD oil or tincture under the tongue and holding it there for 30-60 seconds before swallowing. This method allows for fast absorption of CBD into the bloodstream through the capillaries under the tongue, typically producing effects within 15-45 minutes.  
    • BIOAVAILABILITY: Sublingual consumption is one of the most effective methods of delivery, with a reported bioavailability of 12-35%.  This is because the CBD is absorbed directly into the blood stream.
      • As a bonus, the oil or tincture can be swallowed to double down on the sublingual AND oral consumption methods.. allowing you to get even more out of your product.  This is why ALINE cannabis’ first line of products are CBD oils.
  • Inhalation: CBD can be inhaled by smoking or vaping CBD-rich flower or oil. Inhalation offers fast onset of effects, typically within a few minutes, but the duration of the effects is relatively short-lived compared to other methods.  Since it is absorbed through the lungs, CBD can rapidly reach the bloodstream and begin circulating in the body.  The effects can last from around 40 minutes to 2 hours.
    • BIOAVAILABILITY: Inhalation has the highest bioavailability of approximately 34-56%, making it one of the most efficient methods of delivery.  However, inhalation comes with the obvious downside of introducing foreign matter into the lungs – which isn’t worth the risk for some.
  • Topical: CBD-infused topicals, such as creams, balms, and lotions, are applied directly to the skin for localized relief of pain, inflammation, and other issues. Topicals are typically non-psychoactive and do not produce systemic effects like other methods of consumption, as the CBD cannot reach the blood stream.  Instead, the compounds interact with the ECS cannabinoid receptors located on the surface of the skin.
    • BIOAVAILABILITY: very low / unknown.  Since the CBD does not enter the bloodstream and is instead only absorbed locally in the skin, the systemic bioavailability is null and the local bioavailability is simply unknown.


How much CBD should I take?

CBD dosage is a common question, and a tricky one to answer.  The most simple answer is that it varies depending on each person and their specific needs.

Generally speaking, taking CBD 1-3 times per day is ideal if you’re interested in promoting a calming, and recurring, sense of well-being, whether that is related to anxiety, stress or pain.. or right before an anxious event or just before you hop into bed.  The specific amount will vary on your body and use case.

View our article on our recommended CBD dosages here.


How long does CBD stay in your system?

The length of time that CBD stays in one’s system can vary depending on several factors, such as the individual’s metabolism, the dosage and method of administration, and the frequency of use.

Generally speaking, CBD is metabolized relatively quickly by the body, with most of it being eliminated within 2-5 days.  Smoking or inhaling CBD will cause it to enter the bloodstream faster, but also leave the body quicker when compared to sublingual or oral administrations.  The half-life of CBD is about 1-2 days, again depending upon how its administered.

Frequency of use has a great impact on how long CBD remains in your system; more frequent use = longer in the system; and, as CBD is fat soluble, it can accumulate in fatty tissue and be released back into the body.  Chronic users may have longer detection times than infrequent users.


What are the side effects of CBD?

CBD is generally considered safe for most people, and adverse reactions are rare. CBD is well-tolerated by the human body, with minimal side effects.

However, like any supplement or medication, there are potential risks and side effects associated with CBD use. Here are some potential side effects of CBD use:

    • Drowsiness or fatigue
    • Diarrhea
    • Changes in appetite
    • Dry mouth
    • Nausea

    It’s important to note that these risks and side effects are not experienced by everyone who uses CBD, and most people do not experience any negative effects.


    What are the risks of CBD?

    A source no less than Harvard Medical School cites a report from the World Health Organization that states “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.

    Although CBD has shown to be relatively safe, there are potential risks associated:

    • Impaired motor function
    • Interaction with other medications
    • Negative effects on fetal development during pregnancy
    • Increased risk of bleeding or bruising
    • Adverse effects on immune function
    • Decreased blood pressure

    CBD can alter the metabolism of certain medications, including different blood thinners, anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents.

    If you’re taking any medication, it’s critical that you talk to your doctor about potential interactions before using CBD.

    Quality & Testing: Knowing what your putting in your body

    Last but assuredly not least, it’s very important to ensure your CBD is purchased from a trusted and tested source.  How can you choose quality CBD products? The best way to ensure that the CBD you are purchasing is quality is to make sure the company or brand uses third-party laboratory testing and comes provided with a Certificate of Analysis (CoA)

    This process includes testing numerous samples from the same harvest to determine the content of cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as the presence of heavy metals, pesticides, or any other residuals. At ALINE cannabis, we keep all the certificates of analysis for our products in one handy location, as well as easily accessible from each product page. You can see when the test was collected and received and the total CBD and total cannabinoids, among other information. 


    To Wrap It Up

    CBD is a fascinating compound with many potential benefits for human health.

    As research continues to uncover more about its effects and potential uses, it’s important to stay informed and educated – ALINE cannabis is building an educational repository with more resources like this one. With the right information and precautions, CBD can be a safe and effective natural remedy for enhancing wellness.

    If you’re considering using CBD for the first time, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider first, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.


    Recap & CBD Highlights

    • CBD is cannabidiol, an organic compound found in hemp, a variety of the cannabis sativa plant.
    • CBD does not get you high, like the more well-known cannabis compound, THC.
    • Hemp and marijuana are both forms of the cannabis plant, but hemp is usually grown for commercial reasons while marijuana is grown for recreational reasons. Hemp has more CBD, marijuana has more THC. 
    • CBD was fully legalized on a federal level by the Farm Bill of 2018, which made it legal to use CBD, grown with lots of special rules so it’s safe for you!
    • CBD works by engaging the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a biological system in the human body, just like the nervous system or respiratory system.
    • CBD may be able to support pain relief, ease anxiety and depression, and promote restful sleep.
    • CBD is well-tolerated by the human body, with minimal side effects.
    • Avoid CBD if you’re on blood thinners and make sure to consult your doctor about interactions with all medications.
    • Many types of CBD products are now available, including CBD gummies and other edibles, CBD oil tinctures, CBD creams and lotions, and CBD capsules.  The methods of ingestion determine the onset of effects and the duration of effects – and each ingestion method has a different bioavailability.
    • There are three types of CBD: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate, which just refers to the so-called “purity” of the CBD. Full-spectrum may include small amounts of THC, whereas broad-spectrum does not.
    • To ensure quality CBD, always check the certifications of analysis!

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