top of page

What Is CBD? The Benefits, Side Effects and Potential Risks

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Curious about CBD? You're in the right place. In this article we will look at where CBD comes from, what it is, the benefits, potential risks, and whether it is right for you.

So quiet at the back, phones on silent, sitting comfortably? Let’s begin.

What Does CBD Stand For?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is a chemical compound found in the marijuana or hemp plant (scientifically known as the Cannabis sativa plant). It occurs naturally and is used in all kinds of products; oils (called tinctures in the industry), edibles, topicals, and vape juices (for use in electronic cigarettes and vape pens) to elicit sensations of calm and relaxation.

But does CBD get you high? In short, no. THC (delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol) is the biggest active ingredient in marijuana which is the psychoactive component that gives the user a sense of euphoria and ‘high’. CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive.

The majority of CBD products available on the market contain below 0.03% THC giving users all the healing benefits of CBD without the ‘highs’ associated with THC.

Where Does CBD Oil Come From?

CBD oil is derived from either the hemp or marijuana plant (yes, despite what you're told, these are two separate plants descending from the Cannabis sativa plant). Typically both the leaves and flowers are used to produce the oil.

How Does CBD Work?

CBD works by interacting with our body's endocannabinoid system. This biological system was founded in the 1990s by medical researchers. However, most of its interactions are still pretty much unknown. What we do know today is that the endocannabinoid system impacts some of our body's processes, including:

  • Memory

  • Mood

  • Sleep

  • Appetite

The endocannabinoid system has three major parts — enzymes, endocannabinoid, and receptors.

Here are their functions:

  • Enzymes — Only two types break down endocannabinoid even though we have many types of enzymes in our bodies.

  • Endocannabinoids — Keep our internal functions running perfectly.

  • Receptors — Endocannabinoids bind to the receptors which are located throughout our bodies.

To understand how CBD works, you need to first understand how the endocannabinoid and receptors work.

How Endocannabinoids, Receptors and CBD Work Together

CB1 receptors work in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors work in the peripheral nervous system. Once the enzymes break down the cannabinoids, the endocannabinoids find receptors to bind to. Biologists state it's at this point where cannabidiol (i.e., CBD) influences the CB1 and CB2 receptors to improve their function.

Interestingly, CBD can also work with the 5 ht serotonin receptor to treat psychotic disorders, and can reduce pain by activating the TRPV1 receptor.

How is CBD Oil Manufactured?

There are so many ways to manufacture CBD oil. The specific process largely depends on the manufacture and will affect the end product's efficacy and purity.

Let's take a look at the most common manufacturing methods.

#1 Carbon Dioxide Extraction

This manufacturing method uses the fact that carbon dioxide (CO2) can work as a gas, liquid, and solid to its advantage by using closed-loop extractors.

Here's how it's done:

  1. Solid CO2 sits in a chamber.

  2. It's pumped into a chamber holding the cannabis plant.

  3. Carbon dioxide stays as a liquid form in the second chamber, absorbing the oils and flavours from the plant.

  4. The carbon dioxide-cannabinoid mix is passed into a third chamber.

  5. CO2 then becomes a gas and leaves the oils and flavours behind.

When carbon dioxide extraction is done properly, the CBD extract is the world's purest. However, there is so much room for error. Plus, the machinery is incredibly expensive, meaning companies often try to take shortcuts that inevitably do not work.