What is CBD and How is it Consumed?

You’ve probably heard about CBD before, and perhaps even seen it on the shelves at your local pharmacy, but aren’t exactly sure what it is and why it seems to be popping up everywhere. If you’d like to know a little more about CBD before you consider trying it, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about what CBD is, how to consume it, what you can use it for, how it can help you, and how to dose. Let’s dive into our first topic where we’ll discuss:

  • What is CBD?
  • Why would you use CBD?
  • How to consume CBD

What is CBD?

CBD is one of many cannabinoids 

Image of CBD oil in tincture drops.  Unflavored and Crisp Peppermint flavors shown here.

CBD (short for cannabidiol) is just one of many naturally occurring compounds found in marijuana and hemp plants. Over the past couple of years, CBD has exploded onto the market and is found in everything from rub on creams, bath bombs, gummies, mints, to oils. The reason for this CBD proliferation is the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the growth and production of the hemp plant, as well as the transfer of hemp products (with less than 0.3% THC, more on that later) across state lines for commercial purposes. Under its new legal status, cultivators of CBD could now not only legally grow hemp plants, but they could offer products containing CBD to customers across the United States.

Before this change in status, all cannabis plants (marijuana and hemp) were considered illegal and no products that came from these sources could be sold. So now that hemp and CBD are legal, what’s the big deal and why is there such a large interest in using these products?

How does CBD work?

The interest in CBD has a lot to do with how it works with your body. Although more studies are needed, experts believe that CBD works with your body’s own endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is an internal system that appears to control essential bodily functions such as sleep, mood, appetite, and memory. When you ingest CBD using drops or edibles, the cannabinoid binds to certain receptors, helping to relieve pain, balance your mood, and even help you get better sleep. You can also apply CBD externally (as a cream, lotion, or balm) and target specific areas to help reduce inflammation and decrease pain. 

Is CBD legal?

Yes! CBD derived from the hemp plant is legal. Although it is not yet approved by the FDA (except for the anti-seizure medication Epidiolex), CBD can be sold or distributed across the country. The CBD products sold must be derived from hemp plants that contain no more than 0.3% THC (the intoxicating compound found in marijuana) for them to be legal under the current law.

Where can you get CBD?

You can pick up CBD products at a variety of locations. Depending on what you’re looking for and the demand in your area, you can find them at your local pharmacy, a health food store, or at a private CBD distributor (dispensary). If you can’t find the product you want nearby, you can also turn to online vendors that will ship your CBD products to your home. No matter where you purchase your CBD, it’s always a good idea to do some research into the brand that’s selling it to make sure they’re reputable and accountable. 

graph displaying current cbd users' preferred purchasing channels
chart source

What are the differences between the marijuana and hemp plant?

Although they are commonly thought of as two separate species, the marijuana and hemp plants are just two separate names for the same plant in the Cannabaceae plant family. The difference between the two is in the amount of THC present--in marijuana it can be over 0.3%, while hemp plants must be below 0.3% THC for them to be considered legal and used to create CBD products. 

Will CBD show up on a drug test?

Many drug tests do not look for CBD, so CBD will not show up on a drug test. However, depending on how often you ingest CBD, and how it is derived, there’s the chance that some trace THC could be detected, since the hemp plant can legally have up to 0.3% THC. If you choose a product that is broad spectrum CBD, it would not show up on a drug test. However, if you use a CBD product that is full spectrum (that includes 0.3% THC) it may show up on a test depending on how often you use it and how much you take. 

If you’re using a CBD topical, there’s no chance of trace THC showing up since these products do not enter the bloodstream. 

Is CBD safe and effective?

CBD is safe to use, as both a topical or ingested. Since everyone’s body is different, everyone responds differently to CBD. This is why it’s important to listen to your body and figure out what works for you specifically. One amount of CBD that works for someone else might not work for you, so go at your own pace and learn how you respond to CBD.

Are all CBD products made the same?

Since the FDA does not regulate the production of CBD products, there are not all made the same. Manufacturers each have their own cultivation processes and verification methods so it’s important to do your research. Some hold themselves to very high standards, while others might not. CBD products are also made in different strengths, so depending on what you use it for (pain, anxiety, sleep), it could be anywhere from a low strength to a high strength. 

Why Use CBD?

What are the benefits of CBD?

hands opening a tincture bottle
Many people turn to CBD after other products have failed to give them results. Image courtesy of Open Access Government

So now that we’ve discussed what exactly CBD is, now it’s time to talk about why you might want to include it in your routine. Why exactly do people use CBD for and what are some of the benefits?

  • Relieves pain. Many people are dealing with pain on a daily basis, and have either found no relief from over the counter or prescription medication, or don’t want to use these solutions because of potential negative side effects. This is where CBD can help. It is a natural analgesic (pain-relieving) plant compound that works with your body’s receptors to reduce pain. By limiting the pain you feel, you can get back to feeling like yourself!
  • Reduces inflammation. Inflammation in our joints and muscles is the reason for a lot of pain. In addition to helping decrease pain, CBD can also work to reduce inflammation so that you experience less pain. You can apply a topical right to the area that gives you pain or ingest CBD and allow it to work with your body to reduce pain and inflammation throughout.
  • Can help with anxiety. One of the many side effects of dealing with pain is the anxiety it can cause. You might find yourself worrying about when the pain will start again, or if it will ever subside. CBD can work with your endocannabinoid system to help calm your body and usher in soothing feelings to reduce anxiety.

CBD can also help with stress and general anxiety caused by a busy life, allowing your mind to relax when it feels like it’s in overdrive. 

  • Assists with getting restful sleep. One reason you might have trouble sleeping at night is due to physical pain or the inability to stop worrying. CBD can assist with both of these issues to help your mind relax and relieve your body of pain so you can fall asleep. 
  • Great for facial care. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD also makes a great addition to your face care routine. Using it regularly can help calm irritation and leave your skin looking fresh, hydrated, and glowing.

Are there side effects to CBD?

CBD is safe and generally people do not report side effects when using it. However, everyone responds to CBD differently, so we always recommend starting off with a low amount and gauge how you react to it. Only when you’re comfortable with how CBD makes you feel, should you slowly adjust your doses or frequency of doses. 

How long does it take to feel the effects?

Again, everyone reacts differently to CBD. Different CBD consumption methods mean there are also different waiting periods before you might feel the effects. More on that below!

How to Consume CBD?

You can use a variety of different ways to consume CBD 


  • Drops. Sublingual drops are a fast-acting and easy way to consume CBD. You simply measure your dose and administer it under your tongue where you’ll hold it there for 30-60 seconds before swallowing. This allows the CBD to be absorbed through the mucous membranes and reach your bloodstream quickly. You can also put your dose into your favorite beverage and consume it that way. There are a variety of flavors available (like Seventh Sense’s Bliss Peppermint) making it easy to find one that works for you.
  • Topicals. If you have pain in a particular area such as a shoulder, knee, or wrist, a topical is a great option to get relief exactly where you need it (like Seventh Sense’s Intensive Deep Relief Cream). Simply apply the cream, lotion, balm, or roll-on directly to the area and allow it to absorb. The CBD and other soothing ingredients such as menthol and arnica provide relief and let you get back to your daily routine. 
  • Ingestibles. You can also get CBD through ingestibles such as gummies (try Seventh Sense’s Bliss Gummies), capsules, chewing gum, and mints. This delicious option allows you to take CBD anywhere you want to, and come in all kinds of flavors. Because edibles go through your digestive system first (with the exception of chewing gum), it often takes longer to feel the effects, but you may also find that your relief lasts longer as well.

What do the methods of extraction mean?

When you purchase a CBD product you may notice that the type of extraction is mentioned on the label. CBD extraction methods are defined as:

  • Full spectrum. All the naturally occurring compounds and cannabinoids including up to 0.3% THC are included in the product.
  • Broad spectrum. All the plant compounds and cannabinoids are included except THC.
  • CBD isolate. All other plant compounds are removed except for CBD.

Which extraction method you choose is up to you and what you’re comfortable with. 

What does the strength of CBD mean?

In addition to the extraction method, you may also notice the amount of CBD in products can vary. You may see items that contain 100mg of CBD and others that contain 1500mg of CBD. The higher CBD strengths are typically used for intense pain, while the other amounts can be used for daily aches, to boost your mood, or to calm down your mind. You will have to experiment with what works for you, so you can get the results you’re looking for. 

How much CBD do you use?

This depends on what you’re using CBD for. If you’re dealing with intense or daily pain in a joint, you would use more than someone using CBD to feel a little more calm. The amount you use also depends on your consumption method. While one person might only need one dose of drops to find relief, someone else might need to take two ingestibles to get the results they’re looking for. It’s all about how CBD interacts with your body! We always recommend to start low and slowly increase your amount of CBD until you get the relief you need.

When can you use CBD?

You can choose to include CBD in your daily routine and take it in the morning so you can feel the results all day, and administer more if you need to. You can also choose to use CBD only when you need to--if a joint is painful or if you’re a little more anxious--it’s easy to take CBD and get on with your day. If you’re taking CBD to help get a restful night’s sleep, then you would want to make CBD a part of your nightly routine instead of your daily one. 

We hope after reading this you know a little bit more about what CBD is and how you can consume it. CBD is there to help you, no matter how you choose to use it!

Read more about CBD

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