Medicinal and recreational marijuana use is a hot-button topic these days, generating intense, visceral reactions from people on both sides of the fence. Even though, marijuana has been used for centuries as a natural herbal medicine by numerous cultures, fear of addiction and abuse led to its ban in 1930.

However, with the increased attention marijuana (cannabis) has been receiving lately, researchers have once again started exploring the potent botanical and the plethora of highly bioactive compounds in its leaves for use in modern medicine. Chief among the cannabinoids in cannabis gaining traction in the mainstream is CBD.

This chemical compound brings countless benefits without the “high” typically associated with consuming compounds contained in cannabis.

Not familiar with CBD? 

Then continue on to learn of the mighty healing qualities of this extraordinary chemical compound!

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of more than 85 various cannabinoids naturally occurring in the cannabis plant and is the second most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis, right behind THC. In case you weren’t aware, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the cannabinoid in marijuana responsible for the psychoactive effects commonly associated with the plant’s use.[1]

While THC has been getting the lion’s share of headlines lately, CBD has quietly been taking the natural products industry by storm as more and more research is published documenting a plethora of benefits to the compounds use. Due to this, there’s been a surge in CBD-based products entering the natural foods and supplement market looking to capitalize on the ingredient’s popularity. 

What does it do?

CBD interacts with the body via the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS), or endocannabinoid system. First discovered in the latter portion of the 1980s, the ECS regulates homeostasis in the body, affecting certain functions including sleep, mood, appetite, immune response, pain, and hormone regulation.

All cannabinoids, including CBD function as ligands, which means that connect onto the binding site of a protein, and thereby have the ability to affect the receptor’s behavior. The ECS is composed of millions of cannabinoid receptors spread across the brain, CNS, and immune system. CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain and CNS, while CB2 receptors are located in the immune system. CB1 receptors affect memory, cognition, movement, coordination, pain, and sensory perception. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are found help to  reduce inflammation and various kinds of pain.[2] 

Although CBD only mildly interacts with the CB receptors in the body compared to other cannabinoids, it’s still able to exert a wide range of beneficial effects in the body both through antagonism of the CB receptors as well as through independent mechanisms including vanilloid receptors, adenosine receptors, and serotonin receptors.[3,4,5]. 

Now, let’s get into those specific benefits a little more!

Benefits of CBD Oil

  • Exerts Anti-Psychotic Effects

    Not only is CBD not psychoactive (unlike THC), it actually acts as an anti-psychotic. Research shows that CBD functions similar to that of typical antipsychotic drugs and prevents human experimental psychosis. It’s even been shown effective for treating schizophrenia is human patients too![6]

  • Relieves Pain & Inflammation

    Medicinal marijuana is often prescribed to help people deal with chronic pain. It turns out that you can also get some pain relief from CBD without the “high” feeling typical of marijuana. Studies have found CBD to effectively blunt neuropathic pain (without causing tolerance) and suppress inflammation.[7] Researchers believe that CBD and the other non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana may represent another means to pain management for those currently using more aggressive forms of prescription medications, such as opioids.

  • Reduces Anxiety

    Cannabidiol has been documented to reduce anxiety in individuals with social anxiety disorder[8], and researchers believe it may also be useful for treating OCD, social anxiety, PTSD, and panic disorders. Additionally, CBD also might help you overcome those fears of speaking in public, as a 2011 study found that treatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, discomfort, and cognitive impairment compared to placebo.[9]  

  • Combats Diabetes

    Research from 2006 showed that in non-obese diabetic mice, CBD drastically reduced the incidence of diabetes in the mice from 86% to 30% in the group treated with CBD. That same study also found that supplementation with CBD significantly reduced insulitis and pro-inflammatory cytokines.[10]

    Even more interesting is a 2013 study involving over 4,600 humans. Researchers were studying the effects of marijuana use on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance. What they found out was simply shocking. As it turns out, researchers found that marijuana use was associated with 16% lower fasting glucose levels as well as reduced waist circumference, key factors that play into developing diabetes.[11]

  • Neuroprotective

    CBD also helps protect your brain, as it’s been shown to combat the toxic effects of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate as well as radical oxygen species (ROS) in the brain, both of which can lead to brain cell death.[12,13] On top of that, animal studies using CBD note that it is able to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s.[14]

  • Supports Heart Health

    Not only is CBD useful for combatting symptoms of diabetes and protecting your brain, it’s also heart healthy too! A study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology stated that CBD protects against vascular damage brought on by a high glucose environment, inflammation or type 2 diabetes. And it also reduced vascular hyperpermeability, a hallmark sign of leaky gut[15]

  • May Combat Cancer

    Perhaps that biggest driver behind the renewed interest in CBD for medical applications is its role in combating various forms of cancer. CBD has been shown to inhibit the ability of cancer cells to produce energy, which brings about cancer cell death (apoptosis).[16] Additionally, CBD has also proven effective against multiple forms of cervical cancer by stopping cancer cell growth all together.![17]


Technically, CBD according to the DEA is a Schedule I drug, meaning you won’t be able to walk into any old natural foods store and grab it off the shelf. However, following a legal challenge by the hemp and CBD oil manufacturers, the was a bit of confusion as to where CBD oil falls in the scope of “legal” for use and purchase. From the DEA’s point of view, CBD is still a Schedule I substance, however 44 states do allow it in some form or other, and only 6 states completely outlaw the compound — Kansas, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

Is Your CBD Oil Legit?

One of the biggest problems in the CBD oil industry, much like the supplement industry, is the use of poor quality ingredients, meaning chances are high that the CBD oil you’re purchasing doesn’t actually contain any CBD at all, or very little of it. In all likelihood, it’s a form of hempseed oil that is being marketed as CBD oil, since CBD does exist in hemp, albeit in limited quantities. In fact, the FDA tested numerous CBD products and found that most contained hardly any CBD at all.[18]

The only way to know with certainty if your CBD oil is legit is to purchase it from Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, or Washington — the states where cannabis use is regulated and legal. CBD products sold in those states must pass state-mandated lab tests to assure their quality, potency, and purity.


Worried about toxic side effects from using something derived from the marijuana plant?!

Don’t be, extensive research has been done on CBD and concluded that the compound possess a low threat of toxicity.[1]


CBD is an incredibly powerful compound that brings a world of benefits for users. However, given the excessive amounts of bogus CBD products on the market, it can be a crapshoot whether or not you’re getting your money’s worth. With the spotlight shining brighter on hemp, marijuana, and CBD than ever before, will we start to see more broadbase use of the ingredient and find it lining the shelves of the local supplement shop soon?References:
1. Niesink RJM, van Laar MW. Does Cannabidiol Protect Against Adverse Psychological Effects of THC? Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2013;4:130. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00130. 

2. Pertwee RG. The diverse CB1 and CB2 receptor pharmacology of three plant cannabinoids: ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and ?9-tetrahydrocannabivarin. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2008;153(2):199-215. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0707442.

3. Costa B, Giagnoni G, Franke C, Trovato AE, Colleoni M. Vanilloid TRPV1 receptor mediates the antihyperalgesic effect of the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol, in a rat model of acute inflammation. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2004;143(2):247-250. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0705920.

4. Ibeas Bih C, Chen T, Nunn AVW, Bazelot M, Dallas M, Whalley BJ. Molecular Targets of Cannabidiol in Neurological Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):699-730. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0377-3.

5. Resstel LB, Tavares RF, Lisboa SF, Joca SR, Corrêa FM, Guimarães FS. 5-HT1A receptors are involved in the cannabidiol-induced attenuation of behavioural and cardiovascular responses to acute restraint stress in rats. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2009;156(1):181-188. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2008.00046.x.

6. Zuardi AW, Crippa JAS, Hallak JEC, et al. A critical review of the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol: 30 years of a translational investigation. Curr Pharm Des. 2012;18(32):5131-5140.

7. Xiong W, Cui T, Cheng K, et al. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting a3 glycine receptors. The Journal of Experimental Medicine. 2012;209(6):1121-1134. doi:10.1084/jem.20120242.

8. Schier AR de M, Ribeiro NP de O, Silva AC de O e, et al. Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2012;34 Suppl 1:S104-10.

9. Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RHC, Chagas MHN, et al. Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-1226. doi:10.1038/

10. Weiss L, Zeira M, Reich S, et al. Cannabidiol lowers incidence of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. Autoimmunity. 2006;39(2):143-151. doi:10.1080/08916930500356674.

11. Penner EA, Buettner H, Mittleman MA. The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among US Adults. Am J Med. 2017;126(7):583-589. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2013.03.002.

12. El-Remessy AB, Khalil IE, Matragoon S, et al. Neuroprotective Effect of(-)?9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol in N-Methyl-d-Aspartate-Induced Retinal Neurotoxicity?: Involvement of Peroxynitrite. The American Journal of Pathology. 2003;163(5):1997-2008.

13. Hampson AJ, Grimaldi M, Axelrod J, Wink D. Cannabidiol and (-)?9-tetrahydrocannabinol are neuroprotective antioxidants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 1998;95(14):8268-8273.

14. Cheng D, Spiro AS, Jenner AM, Garner B, Karl T. Long-term cannabidiol treatment prevents the development of social recognition memory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease transgenic mice. J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;42(4):1383-1396. doi:10.3233/JAD-140921.

15. Stanley CP, Hind WH, O’Sullivan SE. Is the cardiovascular system a therapeutic target for cannabidiol? British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2013;75(2):313-322. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04351.x.

16. Lukhele ST, Motadi LR. Cannabidiol rather than Cannabis sativa extracts inhibit cell growth and induce apoptosis in cervical cancer cells. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2016;16(1):335. doi:10.1186/s12906-016-1280-0.

17. Lukhele ST, Motadi LR. Cannabidiol rather than Cannabis sativa extracts inhibit cell growth and induce apoptosis in cervical cancer cells. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2016;16(1):335. doi:10.1186/s12906-016-1280-0.


One thought on “What Is CBD Oil?”

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