The short answer: CBD is a plant-based compound known for its calming effects.
Your CBD adventures start with one fundamental question: What is CBD?
CBD—or cannabidiol if you like using words with lots of syllables—is, in the most basic terms, a chemical compound. The word “chemical” might make you think of synthetic substances created in a lab, however CBD is 100% natural. In fact, it comes from a plant you’ve probably heard of before: the cannabis plant.
Some people freeze when they hear the word “cannabis.” That’s because many people use “cannabis” and “marijuana” synonymously to describe the drug that gets you high.
When we’re talking about cannabis in the context of CBD, we’re just talking about a plant that contains over 400 compounds called cannabinoids. Some cannabinoids, like tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, are psychoactive; they affect your mental processes. Many cannabinoids, including CBD, are not psychoactive.
The short answer: CBD stands for cannabidiol.
CBD stands for cannabidiol. The term spares us from trying to say and spell cannabidiol over and over again.
The “cannabis” portion of the word indicates the compound’s origin in the cannabis plant. The “diol” portion of the word indicates the two alcohols in the compound. (In this case, alcohol simply describes a molecule made of carbon (C), oxygen (O), and hydrogen (H) atoms—not a tasty adult beverage.)
Most cannabinoids have similar names. This makes it easy for us to tell they share cannabis as their mother plant.
Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)
The short answer: No.
CBD does not get you high.
Many people react to this statement with a healthy dose of dubiousness. Why not? It comes from the cannabis plant!
CBD alone—when it’s not paired with other compounds in the cannabis plant, such as THC—does not produce the psychoactive (mind-altering) effects we perceive as “getting high.”
Just one of the many compounds found in the cannabis plant, CBD can be isolated from the other compounds to make a product with practically no chance of triggering a high.
However, CBD products often contain some THC, which is psychoactive. Check the labels and certificates of analysis (COA) to find out if your product contains any percentage of THC.
The takeaway: Keep an eye out for news of CBD clinical trials that will verify or call into question the promising health benefits many believe CBD provides.
Throughout this post, you’ll learn that many experts withhold their optimism on the benefits of CBD, pointing to a lack of evidence from controlled trials and systematic research. Promising results from CBD clinical trials would give them satisfying evidence.
Clinical trials on CBD have been relatively limited so far, but, as CBD benefit claims multiply and CBD popularity grows, we’ll likely see more trials.