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What Is CBD? And What Does It Do?

  • 3 min read

hemp cbd flower with chemical formula

By John Wood

In this article:

CBD is short for cannabidiol, one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in marijuana and hemp plants. Cannabinoids are natural compounds unique to plants in the cannabis family.

While THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is known for its psychoactive effect, CBD effects are known to be relaxing and soothing. Hemp-derived CBD is also known for its ability to reduce bodily discomfort.

    CBD Background

    CBD is the hottest ingredient in the natural products industry today, with everyone from celebrities to athletes singing its praises. And Americans from all walks of life and in all age groups are jumping on the CBD bandwagon.

    According to a Consumer Reports survey of more than 4,000 Americans, more than one-quarter have tried CBD, including 40% of people in their 20s, and 15 percent of people 60 and older. Furthermore, one in seven of those who said they had tried CBD indicated that they used it every day. That number will only grow — especially now that consumers are realizing the longstanding stigma attached to marijuana should not apply to CBD.

    CBD, THC and Other Cannabinoids

    The hemp plant contains more than 450 known chemical compounds, at least 113 of which are classified as “cannabinoids.”

    Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that act upon cannabinoid receptors within our bodies. The cannabinoids in cannabis are commonly referred to as “phytocannabinoids” (“phyto” means plant).

    The most prevalent cannabinoid in hemp is a cannabinoid called “cannabidiol,” popularly known as “CBD.” CBD accounts for about 40% of the hemp plant’s extract.

    The fact that CBD has limited side effects and poses an extremely low risk of addiction has added to its rising popularity.  The most notorious cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana. However, this is not an issue with CBD oil made from the hemp plant because, by law, it must contain less than 0.3 percent of THC, which is not enough to get you high. Some of the other cannabinoids in hemp are:

    • Cannabigerol (CBG) 
    • Cannabinol (CBN)
    • Cannabichromene (CBC)
    • Cannabicyclol (CBL) 
    • Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA) 
    • Cannabidivarin (CBDV) 

    CBD and other cannabinoids work with the endocannabinoid system within the body to produce many health benefits, which are currently being investigated around the world.

    The Rise in Popularity of CBD Products

    One reason CBD is suddenly so popular is due to the passage of the 2018 United States Farm Bill, which legalized CBD derived from the hemp plant. CBD that comes from hemp plants that contain at least 0.3% or more THC, remains illegal under the Controlled Substance Act because it’s still classified as a Schedule 1 drug. It’s available only in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational and/or medical use. The impetus for the farm bill was a growing recognition of the role that CBD could play in human wellness. The fact that CBD has limited side effects and poses an extremely low risk of addiction has added to its rising popularity.  A recent study by market research firm High Yield Insights revealed 40 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 21 are interested in trying CBD. This aligns with the Brightfield Group’s prediction stating that by 2022, the hemp-based CBD market will grow to $22 billion (up from $327 million in 2017). That’s an astounding 6,628 percent increase in five short years. Growth like this only happens if a product generates a healthy word-of-mouth buzz by delivering solid results.

    Purchasing High-Quality CBD Products

    Knowing how and where to purchase your CBD oil products will prevent disappointment over the quality and value. Ensure that your CBD company posts its their third-party testing information; see our certificates of analysis and Label Accuracy Guarantee™ to learn more and stay informed.

    Summing It Up: What Is CBD and What Does It Do?

    CBD stands for cannabidiol, a cannabinoid extracted from the cannabis plant. It is used to produce CBD oil products, such as a CBD gummies or CBD tablets. While this cannabis compound has a wide range of health benefits, consumers should be aware of their CBD product's quality and label accuracy.