Have a question about CBD?

You’re not alone — we receive dozens of questions via email everyday.

Here are the most common questions we get asked about CBD itself, how it works, and how to buy it.

Article By
Justin Cooke , last updated on August 9, 2020

CBD faq
  • Table of Contents

I. CBD Basics: Start Here

1. What Is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It’s a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and the primary therapeutic agent in the cannabis plant. It’s suggested to support a variety of different symptoms and conditions — including epilepsy, anxiety, pain, inflammation, and poor immune function.

CBD supplements are all the rage, with companies offering the compound in virtually any format you can imagine — from CBD-infused oils and capsules to topical salves and transdermal patches. You can even find CBD infused in coffee beans, shampoo, beard balm, and tea.

2. What Are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are a class of chemicals that interact with our endocannabinoid system.

There are three main types of cannabinoids;

  1. Phytocannabinoids (from plants)
  2. Endocannabinoids (made by our bodies)
  3. Synthetic cannabinoids (made in a lab)

The body makes two primary endocannabinoids (anandamide and 2-AG), the cannabis plant makes about 113 different phytocannabinoids, and there are thousands of synthetic cannabinoids.

Although all cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system to some degree — each one has a unique set of characteristics and effects on the human body.

The most common cannabinoids include:

3. What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are small, volatile compounds found throughout the plant world. Most plants we associate with an aroma owe this effect to their terpene content.

Pine trees, citrus fruits, roses, and cannabis are all notoriously high in terpenes — which is what gives each of these plants their characteristic aromas. Some of these terpenes are shared by plants unrelated to each other.

For example, cannabis shares terpenes with many other plant species, including pine, lavender, eucalyptus, nutmeg, mint, and more — giving its aroma touches of these botanicals as well.

Terpenes offer therapeutic benefits of their own, further lending to the overall medicinal effects of the cannabis plant as a whole. Some terpenes improve the absorption of other molecules through the digestive tract, and many others are anti-inflammatory, sedative, or antibacterial.

4. What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

The endocannabinoid system is a critical regulator of our nervous, immune, and endocrine systems. Tiny receptors called endocannabinoid receptors are located around the body and designed to send and receive chemical messages that control pain, inflammation, immune function, and nervous system activation.

The body has two primary endocannabinoids that work together to control this system:

  1. Anandamide
  2. 2-AG

THC, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, more closely resembles 2-AG, triggering the endocannabinoid receptors associated with serotonin in the brain — which is what gives it psychoactive effects.

CBD, on the other hand, is more closely related to anandamide — which acts as more of a regulator for the endocannabinoid system, supporting homeostasis of various organs throughout the body.

5. What Happens to CBD After it Enters My Body?

CBD is absorbed through the lungs (when smoked or vaped), sublingual capillaries (when taken under the tongue), or through the small intestines (if eaten or taken orally). This can take anywhere from 5 minutes (smoking or vaping), to 45 minutes (taking CBD orally).

Once in the bloodstream, CBD travels around the body and interacts with the endocannabinoid system to exert its effects. CBD will also activate other receptors in the body like the vanilloid and adenosine receptors.

Over time, CBD molecules pass through the liver which metabolizes the compound into inactive and water-soluble forms so the kidneys can eliminate it from the body.

The liver converts CBD into various metabolites including 7-OH-CBD and 6-OH-CBD.

Over time, more CBD will be converted to inactive metabolites. The entire process can take a couple of days before all the CBD is completely out of the body — however, the effects tend to last about 6-8 hours before concentrations become too low in the blood to provide any noticeable effects.

6. What’s the Difference Between Hemp & Marijuana?

Hemp and marijuana are the same species of plant — Cannabis sativa. Like other plants, cannabis has many different forms (called phenotypes) depending on its genetic lineage and growing environments. One plant can vary in phytochemical makeup substantially from the next.

Officially, hemp is any plant that contains less than 0.3% THC by dried weight, while marijuana is any cannabis plant containing more than 0.3% THC. Hemp is considered completely legal in the United States and much of the world, while marijuana is generally considered illegal due to its potential for psychoactive effects.

These differences in chemical profiles — even among the same species — are actually very common in the plant kingdom. Think about tomatoes — all tomatoes are considered to be the species Solanum lycopersicum, yet there are hundreds of different types of tomatoes available. Large, sweet beefsteak tomatoes, all the way to small dark-colored tomatoes.

Cannabis is the same — each phenotype is considered a different strain, even though it’s the exact same species.

There are two other species of marijuana as well — Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis. These species are always classified as marijuana rather than hemp.

7. How Long Does CBD Last?

CBD has a long half-life of 1-5 days, but the effects will usually last around 6-12 hours.

Half-life is the time it takes for exactly half of a compound to be metabolized and eliminated from the bloodstream. It’s a measurement used to predict how long an active dose of a compound like CBD or pharmaceutical medications will last, and how often follow up doses can be taken.

With a long half-life from CBD, the concentration of the drug will gradually build up in the body over time — giving the CBD longer-lasting effects the longer you take it.

8. Is CBD Safe For Animals?

Yes! Animals also have endocannabinoid systems just like humans.

CBD offers your pets many of the same benefits. Consider using CBD to manage your pets’ pain, inflammation, stiff muscles and joints, anxiety, and appetite.

As you search for CBD, you’ll see that most companies offer a few products made for pets including CBD oils, CBD concentrates, and CBD treats.

Pets tend to be quite a bit smaller than humans. As a result, they usually require significantly less CBD than what you might need. The best companies offer advice on how to safely dose CBD for your pets.

Animals may not react well to THC, so it’s especially important to look for products that have very low or 0 percent THC content.

II. CBD Product Questions: Tips For Buying CBD

1. How Is CBD Oil Made?

CBD oil can be made in several different ways:

The traditional method is to simply soak the dried flowers and leaves of cannabis plants in a carrier oil like olive or coconut oil, for several weeks. The medicinal components contained in the leaves diffuse into the oil over time. After a few weeks, the oil is strained to remove the fiber and cell structures of the plant— trapping the medicinal components of the plant in the oil.

Modern CBD oils are made a little differently.

First, the medicinal compounds in the cannabis plant are extracted through high-tech supercritical CO2 or chemical solvents. These extraction methods are much more efficient than oil — leading to more of the medicinal cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytochemicals getting pulled out of the cannabis plant.

The extracts are then dissolved into an oil.

In some cases, an additional purification step is done to isolate pure CBD from the other cannabinoids and terpenes before going into the oil.

2. Will CBD Oils Make Me Fail a Drug Test?

Throughout most of the world, the psychoactive cannabinoid THC is considered illegal. It’s this compound that drug tests look for — not CBD.

CBD is completely non-psychoactive and legal in most countries. Therefore, it’s unlikely that a drug test will search for CBD content.

Most CBD oils are made from CBD isolates, which have no traceable amount of THC. You’re extremely unlikely to fail a drug test as a direct result of taking these oils.

Other CBD oils are made from full-spectrum extracts, which contain less than 0.3% THC (the legal limit in the United States). Even these products are extremely unlikely to cause a failure on a drug test — however, it remains a slight possibility.

If you’re worried about failing a drug test while taking CBD, you should seek out products made from CBD isolates and guaranteed to contain no THC.

3. Why Is Third-Party Testing so Important for CBD Products?

Third-party testing is a simple and effective way for companies to provide customers with transparency about the products they sell and the claims they’re making about them.

The CBD industry remains highly unregulated. This is an improvement from the past — when useful compounds like CBD were outright banned.

However, the problem is that there are a lot of companies manufacturing poor quality CBD products and selling them to the public as a health supplement. These supplements are often contaminated with heavy metals or harmful chemicals like pesticides or preservatives. There are other companies selling CBD oil with an advertised potency that proves to be inaccurate when tested.

The solution to this is third-party testing.

Companies send samples of their products off to a lab where they’re tested for CBD potency and potentially dangerous substances.

These labs provide an official certificate showing the cannabinoid profiles, and presence or absence of any contaminants according to their own tests. Third-party labs hold the CBD supplier accountable to its claims and reduce the risk of the customer. It’s easier to believe the results of a lab that holds no stake in the sale of the product than the CBD company itself.

Imagine a company found contaminants in their oils — it’s not likely they’re going to volunteer this information to their customers. Although most companies test their own products for quality control, the ethical ones seek a stamp of approval from a third-party lab.

With the current state of the CBD market, which is completely void of government regulation and testing — we wouldn’t recommend going with a company that can’t show third-party test results to back up their claims. What do they have to hide?

4. What’s the Difference Between Full-spectrum CBD Oils and Products Made from CBD Isolates?

Full-spectrum CBD oils are made using an extract that maintains the naturally occurring cannabinoid profile of the cannabis plant. This includes other cannabinoids like CBG, CBC, CBN, as well as terpenes like pinene, Linalool, and limonene.

There are in fact hundreds of compounds other than CBD or THC found in the cannabis plant — each one offering its own effects on the body.

  1. Full-spectrum extracts are often regarded as having a greater level of therapeutic benefit than isolates. This is due to something called the entourage effect — a process where various compounds in the cannabis plant work together to produce greater benefits.
  2. CBD isolates often start out as full-spectrum but undergo further processing to remove everything except CBD from the extract. These extracts allow for greater standardization of CBD products by manufacturers and guarantee a complete absence of THC and other cannabinoids.

CBD products made from isolates tend to be cheaper, but have less broad-acting effects on the body than full-spectrum.

There’s another class of extracts not frequently talked about — known as broad-spectrum extracts.

5. What Does “Broad-Spectrum” Mean?

Broad-spectrum is a term used to describe cannabis extracts that fall in the middle of a full-spectrum and an isolate.

They’re made by isolating each cannabinoid — usually CBD, CBC, CBG, CBN, and THC.

These isolates are then mixed together in a proprietary ratio for the final product. This practice gives the final product what looks like full-spectrum levels of cannabinoids, but is made manually. It allows manufacturers to maintain standardized ratios of each cannabinoid.

In basic terms, the cannabinoid profile is controlled by the manufacturer. It essentially contains only a broad-range of the cannabinoids naturally found in the plant.

Terpenes are also commonly added to broad-spectrum extracts to further mimic the natural levels of the cannabis plant.

6. Can I Get the Same Benefits of CBD From Smoking It?

CBD is readily absorbed through the lungs and will provide the same benefits to the body as oral use.

However, there are some key differences between inhaling CBD and taking it orally. For example, if using CBD for gastrointestinal complaints, or inflammation, oral consumption is much better. This is because taking the compound orally delivers the CBD and other compounds to the digestive tract directly, and doesn’t trigger the same inflammatory response as smoking.

Some forms of CBD are meant to be smoked — such as CBD concentrates or hemp flower.

Smoking, no matter what the substance is, triggers inflammation and introduces harmful byproducts throughout the body — namely carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons as a result of the combustion process.

Learn more about the bioavailability of different forms of CBD.

7. What Form of CBD Is the Best? Which One Should I Use?

There are many different forms of CBD including:

We provide a lot more depth on each form of CBD in the guides listed above — highlighting when to use them, when to avoid them, and how to find the best products in each category.

Overall, the best form of CBD will vary from one person to the next depending on the symptoms and personal preference:

  1. For general purpose use — CBD oils, tinctures, edibles, and capsules are the best options.
  2. For topical use — CBD creams, salves, balms, and high-potency bath bombs are good choices.
  3. For therapeutic use — treating moderate to severe symptoms — CBD oils, capsules, and high-potency topicals (for topical conditions) are the most reliable options. They may be more effective when mixed with other herbs or supplements designed for a specific condition (like insomnia, or anxiety for example).

Other options like bath bombs, CBD shots, low potency oils, gummies, edibles, teas, and coffee are less reliable for more serious symptoms. It can be difficult to reach the therapeutic dosage with these options, and other ingredients like added sugar may negatively affect the body in larger doses.

8. What Dose of CBD Should I Take?

The dose of CBD can significantly vary from one person to the next. Recommended doses can range from 5 mg per day, up to 150 mg per day or more.

Whenever using CBD for the first time, we suggest you go low and slow. Start at the lowest dose of around 5 mg per day, and build up gradually over the course of a couple of weeks.

For some symptoms, you’ll know right away when you’ve reached the right dose when your symptoms are relieved. Other times the benefits of CBD can take several weeks, so we recommend building up to the suggested dose of CBD according to your weight and desired level of effects, and keeping it consistent for a few weeks. During this time, monitor your symptoms and adjust the dose accordingly.

9. Is Water-Soluble CBD Better?

Water-soluble CBD does not occur in nature. To make CBD more soluble in water (in theory giving it better absorption), scientists need to modify CBD extracts with special techniques. Currently, there is little research to suggest water-soluble CBD is any better than regular CBD.

There are a few ways to make CBD more soluble in water:

1. Liposomal CBD — Using high-tech ultrasonic frequency machines, fat-soluble compounds like CBD can be converted into small, water-soluble spheres called liposomes. The final product is referred to as nano-emulsion.

2. Nano CBD Crystals — Another technique is to break up large CBD crystals into tiny fragments — which gives the crystal powder a higher surface area so it can dissolve more efficiently into water.

Many companies are suggesting that liposomal or nano CBD (water-soluble CBD) is more readily absorbed through the digestive tract — however, no data actually confirms this. At this time, water-soluble extracts aren’t considered to offer any benefits on absorption and exist merely as a marketing tool.

III. CBD Legality & Shipping Questions

Although cannabis remains illegal throughout most of the world, there have been a lot of movements in recent years to change outdated laws. Today, most of the developed world has put in place medical cannabis laws to give access to those who have been granted approval from a doctor.

Other countries have adapted their laws to exclude CBD from the list of prohibited substances due to the complete lack of psychoactive effects from CBD. Countries like Canada, the United States, Mexico, and most members of the European Union regulate CBD products based on whether they were made from marijuana plants, or hemp plants — which are differentiated by the amount of the psychoactive cannabinoid — THC — the plant produces.

The laws regulating CBD and hemp products can vary a lot, and are subject to frequent change. We recommend you visit our CBD legal guides respective to your specific country for more up to date information.

There are a lot of other countries around the world that haven’t made CBD or hemp products explicitly legal, but have medical programs in place, or have decriminalized CBD products — making them hard to buy, but not illegal to possess.

This space is rapidly evolving, so make sure to stay connected by following our newsletter or Facebook page for updates.

The main differentiation between the North American and European laws for hemp products is the amount of THC allowed to remain in the final product before it’s considered illegal.

In North America, the threshold for hemp products to be legal for sale as a nutritional supplement is 0.3% of the total weight. In Europe, this is 0.2%.

Some countries, like France or Denmark, only allow CBD extracts that contain 0% THC.

This number matters, so make sure you’re aware of the legal limit before you order. If you live in Europe, we recommend sourcing a CBD-isolate product if buying from the United States to ensure the product you receive remains under the 0.2% threshold.

None of these products will make you feel high — even with 0.3% THC. You would need to consume a significant amount of the oil for any psychoactive effects at this concentration.

3. Can I Order CBD From The United States If I Live Overseas?

A lot of the leaders in the CBD industry at the moment operate out of the United States — so many people living overseas in Europe, Australia, South America, and Asia are wondering if they can order CBD products from American-based companies.

There are two barriers you may have to face if interested in having CBD shipped from the USA to your home country:

The first point is the most important. You should always check the current laws for your country before ordering CBD from the United States. Remember that in the USA, the legal limit of THC in hemp products is 0.1 percent higher than most of Europe and other countries around the world. Other places have a THC limit of 0 percent.

Some countries outright ban hemp products — so it’s not advised to have it shipped to your home or other address for any reason.

The Workaround:

If there are THC limits in your home country, it’s wise to order CBD isolate-based products from the United States to ensure you remain below fluctuating THC limits.

B) The CBD Company You’re Ordering From May Not Ship To You Directly

A lot of the CBD companies in the states don’t ship overseas. We’ve listed where each company will ship on each review, so if there’s a brand you’re interested in buying from, make sure you check out the shipping section of the page.

The Workaround:

If you find a company you want to order from that won’t ship to you directly, there’s an easy workaround to get the product sent to your address. It’s called mail forwarding.

Mail forwarding will give you an American address to enter during checkout. Once the package arrives to their address, employees of the company will repackage and ship the order to your final address. It costs extra, but if there’s a product you really want to get your hands on that won’t ship to you directly, this is a great way to do it.

We recommend using a service like Shipito if ordering products from the United States.

IV. CBD & Health: What CBD Can & Cannot Do

1. Does CBD Interact With Other Medications?

CBD is generally regarded as being safe and has a low potential for interacting with other drugs or supplements.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

The main issue CBD may pose with other medications involves the liver. The liver is responsible for metabolizing all kinds of compounds from the body, including naturally made ones like hormones or blood cells.

When we take large amounts of CBD that overwhelm the liver, it can cause other compounds that follow the same path of metabolism to become backed up. This can cause the effects of these drugs to last longer than expected — increasing the chances of producing side-effects.

Each drug is metabolized by different enzymes in the liver. If you’re planning to use CBD in combination with other medications, we recommend asking your doctor if there are any known drug interactions with CBD. You can also lookup the enzymes involved with metabolizing these drugs and compare it to the known enzymes involved with CBD metabolism.

CBD is metabolized by the specific liver enzymes:

  • CYP1A1
  • CYP1A2
  • CYP1B1
  • CYP2B6
  • CYP2D6
  • CYP3A5

Other drugs may interact with CBD if they work off any of the same pathways. This can include adenosine inhibitors, endocannabinoid agonists or antagonists, or opioid medications.

Always consult your doctor before taking CBD alongside other medications.

2. What Are the Side-Effects of CBD?

CBD has very few side-effects, and the ones it produces are usually very mild.

With that said, there are some side-effects possible when using CBD, especially in higher doses, or in especially sensitive individuals.

Side-Effects of CBD May Include:

  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in mood
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

3. Is CBD Addictive?

The short answer is no. CBD itself is not addictive and has a low likelihood of producing tolerance or physical dependence — especially compared to alternative analgesics or antianxiety medications like opioids or benzodiazepines.

However, CBD can become habit-forming as people begin to rely on the supplement as a source of relief from their symptoms. When the CBD begins to wear off, many users will desire to take another dose to alleviate their symptoms again.

This is very different than a physical addiction, however.

During a physical addiction, the body loses its ability to maintain homeostasis without the drug — causing severe withdrawal symptoms whenever the drug is no longer in the system. This doesn’t happen with CBD — the worst that will happen if you stop taking it, even after many years of use, is that your symptoms may begin to reappear.

There’s even some evidence to suggest CBD can be used to eliminate addictions to other substances.

4. Will CBD Oil Make Me High?

CBD is not psychoactive — meaning that it won’t produce a high, even in very large doses.

Most products marketed for CBD won’t contain more than 0.3% THC, keeping them well below the psychoactive threshold.

However, there are a lot of products that contain THC in psychoactive doses, especially in countries where cannabis is legal.

It’s important to always double-check the THC content of products before you buy them. Anything claiming to be THC-free, or less than about 0.5% THC can be taken without worrying about getting high.

Other cannabinoids to watch out for to avoid psychoactive effects are THCV, THCVA, and THCA.

5. Can You Overdose on CBD?

The short answer is no. Even in high doses, CBD has been shown to be non-lethal.

However, taking too much CBD may increase the risk of the side-effects listed above. You may feel lethargic and drowsy, which may impair your ability to operate machinery.

6. What Receptors & Enzymes Does CBD Interact With?

For those of you interested in the finer biochemical interactions of cannabis — you’re not alone. Here’s a list of the receptors and enzymes CBD has been shown to interact with:

  • 15‐lipoxygenase
  • 5HT1A receptor agonist (serotonin receptor)
  • 5‐lipoxygenase
  • Adenosine (A2a)
  • Arylalkylamine N‐acetyltransferase
  • FAAH
  • Glutathione peroxidase
  • Glutathione reductase
  • Indoleamine‐2,3‐dioxygenase
  • Mg2+‐ATPase
  • Phospholipase A2
  • PPARγ nuclear receptor
  • Vanilloid pain receptors (TRPV1, TRPV2, TRPV3)

Don’t See Your Question?

Send us your questions through our contact page — we’d love to help!

We’re constantly expanding our CBD knowledge base and would love to hear some feedback about what you want to know next.

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