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What is CBD? – Health Benefits and Products

We've answered all your CBD questions right here

 CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. It’s completely naturally occurring and is added to foods or taken as an oil to provide a feeling of relaxation and calm. It can be taken from the Hemp plant and, unlike THC isn’t psychoactive.

 In recent years CBD has become more and more popular, and it appears the buzz is justified.

 Everyone from your anxious co-workers to your arthritis suffering neighbor seems to want to get themselves a gummie, oil or vape.

So, what is CBD and what can you expect from it? We look closer.

Will it get me high?

Right after the question ‘what is CBD?’, people start asking ‘but will it get me high?’. True enough, CBD can be  found in the cannabis plant. However, the plant has a huge selection of cannabinoids, and the two main ones are CBD and THC.

Where CBD is responsible for that relaxed feeling, THC causes psychoactive reactions. So no, CBD alone will not give you that high feeling associated with marijuana.

Experts over at say less than 5% of people who take CBD feel in any way altered by the compound [1]. However, these are usually people who feel side effects when taking anxiety drugs like Advil and Tylenol.

The kicker is, CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA yet, so if you are going to purchase a product, you need to ensure you invest in a third-party tested supplement. This gives you reassurance that you’re buying something with a very low THC level, that shouldn’t give you a psychoactive response.

What is CBD – is it from Cannabis or Hemp?

So basically, hemp is cannabis. There are two main strains of the cannabis sativa plant: Marijuana and Hemp. Hemp contains a much higher CBD content, and a miniscule (less than 0.3%) THC content. That makes it the perfect source for all your safe, non-psychoactive CBD products.

If you’ve heard of Hemp oil, don’t confuse it with CBD. Hemp oil is taken from the seeds rather than the leaves or buds of the plant, and it doesn’t contain any cannabinoids at all.

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What are the health benefits of CBD?

So far, the only fully medically approved use of CBD is for epilepsy, and that was only accepted by the FDA in 2018. However, people across the world claim it’s helped them to manage other health conditions – from anxiety to osteoporosis, arthritis to cancer.

All of this is due to the way in which CBD interacts with your Endocannabinoid System, or ECS.

So far, there isn’t enough research to confirm what it can definitely help with, and how it works. However, the multitude of reported health benefits from consumers is definitely a good place to start.

[Related Article: 5 Health Benefits of Meditation]

What is the ECS?

What is cbd - hemp leaves

The Endocannabinoid System is made up of three parts:

  • Endocannabinoids – which act like neurotransmitters that send messages around the body in order to maintain healthy function
  • Enzymes – which can break down endocannabinoids and cannabinoids
  • And receptors throughout the body – which interact with the endocannabinoids and cannabinoids to cause change

This system interacts with the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, but it’s responsible for a lot more than that.

It is key to homeostasis and is responsible for maintaining a steady, healthy internal state. Think mood balance, appetite control, body heat and even hormones.

There are two receptors that are responsible for helping maintain your happy internal balance:

  • CB1 – This is linked to the central nervous system, so your brain and nerves.
  • CB2 – This is related to your peripheral nervous system, digestive system and parts of your immune system

In short, they are thought to help us to regulate:

  • Appetite and digestion
  • Immune function
  • Inflammation
  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • Reproduction
  • Temperature regulation
  • Pleasure
  • Pain

Now where does CBD come into all this?

Well where most cannabinoids like THC (which creates a high) and endocannabinoids (which transmit messages to maintain homeostasis) bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors to cause an effect.

CBD doesn’t do that. Instead, it appears to amplify the receptors’ ability to bind with these cannabinoids so they work more efficiently.

It’s also been speculated that CBD occupies the enzymes therefore reducing the amount of damage to endocannabinoids. This is important as one of the two key endocannabinoids, anandamide, is known for creating a feeling of bliss, often referred to as ‘runners high’. Many scientists believe that this process of protecting anandamide is what may result in the anti-anxiety aspects of the supplement.

Can CBD help with anxiety?

CBD has a direct impact on your feeling of calmness and safety, so it’s safe to say that it may be able to help those who suffer from anxiety.

Although, as we mentioned above, the research into the topic is limited so far, however there have been an overwhelming number of reports from those who supplement with CBD claiming that it has helped to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. 

In a recent study, people who were suffering from anxiety or sleep issues were given CBD to supplement. Of those who had anxiety, almost 80% (79.2%) reduced their anxiety scores within the first month. When it came to those with sleep issues, 67% of participants displayed improvement within the first month [2].

It would appear that supplementing with CBD could help to alleviate some of the symptoms that come with anxiety, however it’s worth speaking to your doctor before you try it.

Can CBD help with pain?

Although so far not approved as a medicine, there is a lot of speculation and more recently, a lot of research suggesting it could help with a number of pain related issues.

In one study of arthritic rats, regular CBD supplementation appeared to reduce inflammation and pain-related behaviors [3]. To support this, many people who suffer from the condition who either supplement with CBD or smoke marijuana claim it helps them to manage their condition.

Another report looked into the effect of CBD on chronic pain. After reviewing a number of studies and trials, the researchers concluded that cannabis could be an effective course of treatment for chronic pain in adults [4]. These findings are backed by a study from the Journal of Experimental Medicine, who also suggest that CBD can help to alleviate pain and inflammation [5].

If you suffer from some kind of condition that causes you pain, the research indicates that CBD supplementation may be able to help. However, speak to your physician or doctor before doing so.  

Which is the best CBD product?

In the last few years CBD popularity and consumption has grown dramatically. With this boom has come an increase in the selection of products you can try and the methods of taking it.

For example, you may have heard talk of oils, tinctures, edibles, vapes, capsules and even creams as you’ve explored the CBD market.

Finding the best CBD product for you comes down to what you want from it. Take a look at these guidelines below.

Oils and tinctures – This is one of the quickest ways to feel the effects of CBD. Simply use the tincture to place a few drops of the oil under the tongue and hold it there for a minute or two. This allows the oil to absorb quickly into the bloodstream for high potency and quick results. Be warned though, it doesn’t taste amazing and this option may not suit everyone.

Edibles and capsules – As the CBD as to be absorbed into the digestive tract, these products can take longer to take effect. However, they’re one of the most convenient options out there, as you can easily take a capsule or gummy along with a meal or even with your multivitamins. Some even claim that an edible option makes for longer lasting effects. A lot of people go for this because they don’t like the taste that comes with the oils.

Vapes – This is the fastest way to reap the benefits of CBD, but it also comes with a few catches. Smoking, even from a vape isn’t deemed healthy and if you don’t already vape, it’s probably not a good idea to start. This is a good option if you already do vape though.

Creams and balms – These products are often used by athletes looking to relieve the tension of muscle pain or an injury. By applying the balm directly to the skin it can help to reduce inflammation of muscle in that area, which may help to alleviate the effects of the injury.

Key points to keep in mind when shopping for CBD

Shopping for the best CBD product can be difficult at the moment, because as a dietary supplement, it’s not regulated by the FDA. With that in mind it can be difficult to tell what you should be looking for and which company is reliable.

To help you navigate shopping for CBD, we’ve created a short list of things that may help.

  •         Is it third party tested? – Since CBD isn’t regulated by the FDA, it’s up to the manufacturer to ensure their product is of a high standard and contains low THC levels. They can do this by employing a third party to test and confirm the quality of their supplement. Not only does this inspire trust, it also confirms safety and effectiveness in line with the law.  
  •         Do they mention the FDA? – Any respectable CBD brand will acknowledge that it’s a dietary supplement and that it hasn’t been approved or regulated by the FDA. This should come in the form of a warning, which should be backed up by the third party testing.
  •         Servings can be different – As there’s no real regulating body for CBD, there’s no fully established way of confirming the servings of CBD within a product. Many display the amount of mg per purchase, which others will put a percentage. For example, in a 10ml pot of oil, a 5% CBD serving offers 500mg in each pot.
  •         Is it a dietary supplement or a miracle cure? – CBD is not officially approved as a cure for any disease or condition. While science indicates it can help with certain issues, it is still not proven. With this in mind, any company claiming it can rid you of an illness shouldn’t be trusted.
  •         Look out for other ingredients – before you buy, always look at the label. Some CBD companies are trying to differentiate themselves by adding additional ingredients like fat burner blends. Ensure you’re getting what you want, and understand that the majority of ‘extras’ are probably served too low to make any real difference.
  •         Look out for full-spectrum – A full spectrum product often includes additional cannabinoids. The affect of including other cannabinoids means you may experience a far more potent reaction to the supplement. Consider this before you buy, as you may need less of a full spectrum product than a CBD isolate.
  •         Batch number and expiration dates – Look out for a batch number and expiration date on your supplement. This is a sign of good manufacturing processes and an indicator that you’re buying from a company that cares about the quality of their products.


Will CBD show up on a drugs test?

As long as you stick to third-party tested supplements that contain very low levels of THC (less than 0.2%) then you should be clear to take a hemp extract CBD supplement.


gymgirlfit was created by health and fitness enthusiasts, with backgrounds in powerlifting and writing. We've written for a number of well-known fitness publishing companies.

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