Updated: May 5, 2020
There's no question that CBD is the buzzy wellness product of the moment. If you live in a state where it's currently legal, you might feel like CBD has gone from being sort of around to absolutely everywhere all at once. Coffee shops sell CBD lattes, spas offer CBD facials, beauty companies are rushing to release lotions with CBD or hemp oils in their formulas. And everyone from your anxious coworker to your arthritis-suffering dad wants to get their hands on some CBD gummies.
But even though it's infiltrating pretty much every corner of the wellness world (hi, vegan CBD brownies!) many people still find CBD a little confusing—especially when it comes to figuring out the right way to use it and how to make sure the stuff you're buying is, you know, actually legit. Below, we asked experts to answer the most pressing questions about CBD.
OK, first things first. What is CBD?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound from the Cannabid sativa plant, which is also known as marijuana or hemp, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
It's a naturally occurring substance that's used in products like oils and edibles to impart a feeling of relaxation and calm. Unlike its cousin, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the major active ingredient in marijuana, CBD is not psychoactive.
So you're saying CBD won't get me high?
Nope. The cannabis plant is made up of two main players: CBD and THC. "CBD is the non-psychoactive portion of the plant, so what that means is you won't have any effects like euphoria, about 5% of people say they feel altered after taking CBD. Usually they're the same people who have side effects from Advil or Tylenol she says. You never know how your body will react to any new supplement, so when taking CBD for the first time, do so safely under supervision.
It's also crucial to buy third-party-tested CBD for quality assurance (more on this later). Because the FDA doesn't regulate CBD, it is possible to buy a product that is more or less potent than advertised, or even contains small amounts of THC.
Where does hemp come in to all this?
You've probably heard the terms cannabis, marijuana, and hemp all tossed around in relation to CBD. The plant Cannabis sativa has two primary species, hemp and marijuana. Both contain CBD, but there's a much higher percentage in hemp, which also has very low (less than 0.3%) levels of THC compared to marijuana.
When people talk about hemp oil, they're referring to oil extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant. There are no cannabinoids—CBD or THC—in hemp oil. This ingredient is packed with healthy fats and often appears in beauty products for its moisturizing benefits.
What are the health benefits of CBD?
The only CBD medication that is currently FDA-approved is Epidiolex, which the agency approved last year for the treatment of certain types of epilepsy. But many people swear CBD has helped with a slew of other health conditions, including back pain, osteoarthritis, even cancer.
Still, is CBD worth trying for pain management?
There are two main types of pain, there could be benefit for both conditions.
The tricky part is that there's some evidence suggesting CBD works best for pain when combined with a little THC. Depending on what type of pain you have, you might be able to do just CBD, but sometimes you need CBD and THC. This makes accessing a product that will actually help you more difficult due to different regulations in each state.
Figuring out how much you should take is challenging as well; the dosage that alleviates one patient's pain might do very little for someone else.
I think CBD is a safe thing to try
What about my anxiety—can CBD help with that?
CBD might be worth trying to manage symptoms of anxiety. "[CBD] tells your body to calm down and reminds you that you're safe.
Still, one of the biggest misconceptions about CBD is that it's a wonder drug. "A lot of times people think CBD is a cure-all, and it's not, you should also have a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and good nutrition—CBD is not going to fix everything."
I've heard of edibles, tinctures, vape pens... What's the best way to take CBD?
It really depends on what your goal is and why you're taking CBD in the first place.
Some people don't want to ingest anything and therefore prefer a topical CBD cream or ointment. You can apply it to muscles, joints, and ligaments and still get a nice, localized release.
The biggest differences between tinctures, edibles, and vape pens are speed of delivery and how long the effects last. Vape relief is faster but wears off faster too—usually in about two hours, Say you wake up in the morning and pulled your back out, you might want to take CBD through a vape pen, which delivers in 10 minutes.
Tinctures and edibles take longer to work but last four or five hours. "A tincture looks like a little liquid that you put under your tongue, and you feel relief within half an hour.
What should I look for when shopping for CBD products?
There are literally hundreds of CBD brands at this point.