Everything You've Wanted to Know About CBD

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If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve witnessed the boom of CBD not only in the wellness world, but in the mainstream nowadays. For a product that is now commonplace in the aisle of grocery stores and all over social media, I find that there is an extreme lack of in-depth knowledge or education about what CBD is, its uses, and there is a LOT of misinformation / misconceptions out there.

After a lot of personal research, I’ve been using CBD in my life for about 3 years now for reasons spanning from my inflammation from my autoimmune disease, menstrual cramps, to anxiety and sleep. I realized that I never had written anything in-depth about why I use CBD or the benefits, so I figured it was about time— I’ve also tested a LOT of different brands over the years and haven’t personally recommended many brands on my Instagram or on here, particularly because I’m SUPER picky about my CBD’s quality since there are a lot of poorly made CBD products out there. This is also why I’m really excited to have teamed up with one of my favorite and trusted CBD brands, beam, to bring you this comprehensive blog post today to answer every question you’ve basically ever had about CBD so that you can confidently figure out what is best for YOU.

This is a long and comprehensive post, and while I recommend reading through it all to really understand everything, I’m also including a little menu of the questions here for your ease, so you can jump to whatever section interests you!

DISCLAIMER: I link to a lot of public medical research articles in here because it’s important to me that I give you real information; however, I am NOT a doctor or medical professional, so I cannot make any personal recommendations regarding CBD and none of the content below should be taken as medical advice. I can only speak from my personal experience with CBD and share the sourced research I have gathered.

Jump to:

What is CBD?
How is it different than THC? Why do I see products with both CBD + THC?
Is there a difference in CBD oil and Hemp oil? What about full spectrum vs isolate CBD?
What is the science behind how CBD affects our bodies?
Does it heal pain + injury?

So why would I want to use CBD?
How do I know how much to take?
How do I take CBD oil?
What time of day should I take it / how many times a day?
How can I tell if it works for me?
Should I use different CBD oils for different issues?
Safe for pets?

How can I tell what brands are safe and of good quality? What should I look for?
Is there a way I can test which brands work for me without having to shell out so much money?
Where can I purchase CBD? Is it legal?

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About CBD

What is CBD?

CBD is an acronym for cannabidiol, an essential oil that is extracted from the cannabis or hemp plant. CBD must be combined with a carrier oil (grapeseed oil, coconut oil, and MCT oil are most commonly used for their fatty-acid makeup) in order for the body to absorb it— you can think of that carrier function as similar to certain vitamins that are fat-soluble, aka they must be paired with fats to be absorbed).

How is it different than THC? Why do I see products with both CBD + THC?

CBD is non-psychoactive, whereas THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is. CBD is legal in all 50 states in the U.S., whereas THC is not yet.

Cannabis has two strains of the plant: Indica or Sativa— or there is a hybrid. Hemp and Cannabis are the same type of plant, but hemp is derived from the sativa strain. Hemp contains lower levels of THC and Cannabis typically contains higher levels of THC and lower levels of CBD.

There is a good amount of confusion about CBD vs THC, but it’s simply two different compounds— many cannabis products can contain both CBD and THC as they have different purposes and benefits to the user. If you are looking to get the benefits to the endocannabinoid system (more on that below) without the psychoactive side effects or altered mental state, then you want to look for a pure CBD product with 0% THC. The current regulations state that a product can be listed as THC-free if under 0.3%— these trace amounts will not register on a drug test, nor is it enough to induce any of the psychoactive side effects.

This is actually one of the reasons I love beam’s CBD so much— their CBD products undergo a patented process to even remove those last bits of trace amounts of THC, then is thoroughly tested in-house and by a third party for quality assurance to make sure it’s 100% THC free and has the right concentration of cannabinoids. It is pharmaceutical grade CBD.

Is there a difference in CBD oil and Hemp oil? Is there a difference between CBD isolates and full spectrum?

CBD oil and Hemp oil come from different parts of the cannabis plant. CBD oil is used for all the benefits that come out of interactions of our endocannabinoid system, whereas hemp oil is used for supplementation via a nutrient-dense food source.

Whole plant, full-spectrum CBD oil is extracted from the whole plant of a mature help plant, including the stalk and flowers. CBD must be extracted, and reputable quality manufacturers use CO2 (carbon dioxide) to extract the CBD compound from the plant, as opposed to using toxic substances or high heat (which destroys the CBD compound, rendering it useless) for extraction. This also ensures that the terpenes are preserved in the oil, which can further enhance the benefits of CBD.

CBD isolates are more widespread and also usually cheaper. They do not contain the other natural terpenes, flavanoids, or other cannabinoids that are naturally found in the whole cannabis plant, as they are further processed to remove these compounds, therefore you’re only getting the CBD. For me personally, I prefer full-spectrum to reap the full benefits of the plants.

Hemp oil comes from simply cold pressing (similar to food oils like sunflower oils) the hemp seeds— cold pressing is done to retain as much of the nutritional benefits as possible. Hemp oil does NOT contain cannabinoids, so the purposes of using it differ from CBD oil. Rather than being used to support the endocannabinoid system, hemp oil is meant to be a superfood of sorts for supplementation— with its profile of polyunsaturated acids, vitamin E, and both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, it is a wonderful addition to our diets and also greatly valued in cosmetics for its topical benefits.

If you’re worried about trace amounts of THC for some reason, make sure you’re going with a brand like beam that ensures their full-spectrum CBD oil is 100% THC free— and beam’s CBD oil also blends in hemp oil, so you get the benefits of both!

What is the science behind how CBD affects our bodies?

Any of the benefits that a user would turn to CBD for is a result of its effects on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Bear with me while I explain some science-y terms that I promise will make sense afterward. While there is much research still being conducted on the matter, here is what we do know of so far.

Why is the endocannabinoid system important to your health? Think about your body being in happy homeostasis (balance, equilibrium)— when your body is knocked out of homeostasis (stress, temperature regulation, hunger, pain, sleep), your ECS gets stimulated and helps regulate those functions by producing endocannabinoids to attach to cannabinoid receptors. There are 2 key endocannabinoids we know of for function: anandamine (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG). These endocannabinoids attache to receptors, which we know of at least 2 that exist— CB1 in your central nervous system (brain and nerves of the spinal cord— affects our feelings of pain, pleasure) and CB2 peripheral nervous system (nerves of your extremities, digestive system, and parts of the immune system— affecting things like inflammation, immunity). Then once the endocannabinoids have done their job of regulation by attaching to those receptors, enzymes are produced to break them down.

So let’s explain why CBD would help this process in more normal people talk. If someone uses THC, the cannabinoid in THC bonds to the CB1 receptor— creating a high, inciting elevated mood, relaxation, and hunger. The endocannabinoid that our bodies produce naturally, AEA, also bonds to the same CB1 receptor and elicits similar effects— however, it breaks down faster due to our bodies enzymes. That’s why THC creates a lasting “high” effect. CBD, on the other hand, is also a cannabinoid that does not have the psychoactive effects of THC, but it stops our bodies natural enzyme from breaking down the AEA so that the AEA can have more of an impact. This is one of the reasons why researchers believe it helps treat anxiety, by maximizing AEA’s effects. It is also widely surmised that certain health conditions come with endocannabinoid deficiency, which is why CBD is looked to as a potentially powerful aid to combat symptoms.

Does it heal pain + injury?

Using the science we know of how CBD works in our bodies as explained above, CBD can have positive effect on issues such as inflammation, pain, anxiety, and stress. As it is with any general pain relief (aka usually anti-inflammatories or management of pain receptors) that is ingested, it is not possible to target localized pain for specific issues like menstrual cramps, headache, or back pain; but it is likely that the user will feel the effects of relief as CBD affects the roots of where pain originates from a physiological perspective.

Although not as concentrated of an effect, topical CBD products are great for localized pain such as muscle soreness or cramps. I love using topical CBD salve for cramps or post-workout recovery for sore muscles— beam’s “The Fixer” is my favorite lately because it is organic, has 500mg of CBD and lavender + eucalyptus essential oils for a perfect soothing blend.

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Using CBD

So why would I want to use it?

“What issues am I looking to address with CBD?” That would be the first question to ask yourself.

As I always say, you should have a specific reason you’re wanting to do anything. As I explained in the earlier questions in the articles about the functions of CBD, I do think that a lot of us can derive benefits from CBD. Is it a must-have in order to live? No. But if you’re looking to optimize your well-being and have certain areas of your health you think that CBD can support you in, I’m definitely an advocate for exploring it. The majority of us deal with chronic stress that affects us physiologically, and inflammation on some level due to not ideal nutrition, lack of sleep, and just side effects of living your life— so incorporating CBD into my routine for my well-being has definitely been beneficial.

There is still so much that we are still learning through research about CBD, the endocannabinoid system, and all of its applications— so we don’t really understand it all yet, but the majority of research I have read has showed truly promising utilizations for CBD to address some confounding issues without many answers, such as epilepsy, autoimmune disorders, nerve issues, cancers, and more— this really cool website has an index of a bunch of public medical research on CBD in correlation with medical conditions.

How do I know how much to take?

As I always say with any supplemental product, always start small and build your way up. Also, if you are taking any kind of medications, consult with your doctor as CBD can interfere with some medications.

Most CBD brands offer several different strengths of CBD oil— they are usually in the same size bottles (1 oz / 30 mL), so do not go by the size of bottle for strength but rather the potency. Serving size will usually be 1 dropper (1mL) and each bottle will have about 30 servings. beam offers 3 different concentrations of “The One,” their CBD oil. The 500mg will be 16.67mg CBD per serving (dropper), the 1000mg will be 33.33mg per serving, and the 1500mg will be 50mg per serving. I use the 1000mg and 1500mg mostly nowadays, because I have figured out what works best for me— I always recommend starting out with 500mg.

Also, there are a lot of CBD infused products like gummies, chocolate, etc. out there that have only about 5mg of CBD— this really isn’t enough to elicit much of an effect for most people, so I usually say skip those and look for something with at least 10-15mg. beam also has a CBD protein bar made of wholesome ingredients that has 20mg CBD and 16g of plant protein that I love (cacao flavor all the way!) for post-workout recovery macronutrients and a dose of CBD.

How do I take CBD oil?

I usually just take it straight at nighttime for most efficient absorption— shake up the bottle, squeeze a serving (full dropper) under the tongue and keep it there for 1-2 minutes. Some CBD oils taste better than others, but if you are really averse to the flavor, there are CBD oils that come in a natural peppermint flavor like beam’s.

You can also mix it into your coffee, matcha, or whatever drink / food you like if you prefer to sip on it. One thing to keep in mind is to store it in a dry, cool place so that the carrier oils stay stable— I would also recommend not making baked goods with it as high heat reduces the amount of beneficial flavanoids and compounds in CBD.

What time of day should I take it / how many times?

This is really a trial and error thing— because you could take the exact same CBD oil as me but feel different effects depending on what is off equilibrium in your body versus mine. I recommend testing it out at different times of day to see what works best for you to address whatever issues you’re looking to help with by using CBD.

For me, I use it for anxiety and sleep most often lately, so I take a heavier dose (of the 1500mg The One) before sleep, and it makes me feel super relaxed and sometimes drowsy. For others, you may use it for calm energy and focus, so you might take a lighter dose (the 500mg would be good for this = ~16mg CBD) once or twice during the day. I will put lighter dose of CBD (~15 mg) in my matcha if I am having a working from home day where I need to buckle down and get to business!

How can I tell if it works for me?

Same as identifying if any new thing works for you! You have to think like a scientist and isolate factors. Keep sleep, diet, exercise, and stress levels as similarly as possible, with the only variable being CBD dosage / brand to identify how you feel.

A common misconception though that people think though is that you’re going to feel “high” or some kind of immediately noticeable effect. You will not feel high if it is a non-THC containing CBD oil. For me when a stronger dose of CBD oil is taken orally (sub-lingually, under the tongue), I do notice the subtle effects of calming my anxiety relatively quickly— usually within 5-10 minutes.

Should I use different CBD oils for different issues like inflammation, menstrual cramps, or anxiety?

As I explained in the section above about the science behind CBD, CBD oil targets the same physiological response of stimulating the endocannabinoid system. So what that results in will differ for each person, as each person’s homeostasis / equilibrium is going to be different.

But what is honestly most important to look for in a CBD oil is quality of manufacturing, quality of ingredients in carrier oils, if it’s full-spectrum, and dosage— not any specific claims, because a quality CBD oil should enable similar reactions in your body.

Safe for pets?

This I have NO idea because I am not well-versed in vet stuff, as much as I am dog obsessed. I have heard of people using CBD to address anxiety and also inflammatory issues like arthritis in their furry family, but I would highly recommend discussing with your vet before trying that out.

Buying CBD

How can I tell what brands are safe and of good quality? What should I look for?

There are so many CBD products out there, I definitely see how it can be confusing, especially for a new CBD user! Look for brands that are transparent about their ingredient quality, purity of ingredients, testing + certification processes (organic, third-party lab testing), and that do NOT make any medical claims as it is not legal to do so.

I love that beam’s CBD products are 100% THC free, and thoroughly tested in-house and by a third party for quality assurance— it is pharmaceutical grade CBD. Also, they use hemp oil as part of their CBD oil so you get the benefits of both CBD and hemp oils (as explained earlier).

Is there a way I can test out which brands work for me without having to shell out so much money?

CBD products are expensive, but this is one area where I say do not scour for the best deals and try to score it on the cheap. Invest in a quality CBD oil that is sourced well and manufactured cleanly, otherwise you get what you pay for.

beam does have a 30-day return policy that I really appreciate, because that shows me they are not only confident in their product but that they understand each consumer is different.

Where can I purchase CBD? Is it legal?

CBD products are available in several health stores but I primarily recommend getting them straight from a trusted brand. I always ordered my CBD oils online for years directly from the brand, as their customer service team is also usually better equipped to handle any questions or issues you might have. beam ships to all 50 states and ships out within 24 hours of placing the order!

In 2018, the Farm Bill was passed to legalize hemp and hemp-derived products on a federal level across all 50 states. The FDA has not yet approved CBD to be sold as a supplement, however it is approved internationally by the World Health Organization that it is safe for consumption.

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A huge thank you to beam for sponsoring this post—
bringing this kind of extensive content to the blog is made possible
by my trusted brand partners that support my work. As always, all opinions are my own.

They have also been kind enough to offer 15% off ALL beam products with code

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