If you’re one of the millions of Americans new to CBD, or cannabidiol, you may have a few questions about this much-discussed compound. With a recent surge of demand in CBD — and plenty of supply to meet it — you’re not alone if you feel overwhelmed by the options and scientific terms that many brands use to describe their products. What is CBD vs. THC; cannabis vs. hemp; Broad Spectrum vs. Full Spectrum? Should you get an oil or a cream? What are the benefits of CBD, and how much of it do you need to take to experience its effects?
In this CBD 101 guide for first-time users, we’ll demystify some common misconceptions, explain how to take CBD and help you navigate the fundamentals of extraction so you can choose the right product for your needs.
What Is CBD?
CBD is one of more than 100 cannabinoids in the Cannabis sativa (hemp) plant. Unlike its sister compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD has zero intoxicating effects — in other words, it won’t get you high. Instead, it interacts with your endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex cell-signaling system that plays an important role in maintaining homeostasis, or balance in your body. The ECS interacts with several systems in your body, including your brain and endocrine and immune systems, among others. In other words, ECS helps to make sure your body is functioning optimally, and research suggests that it can affect the following:
- Memory and learning
- Stress response
- Motor control
- Reproductive function
- Inflammation and more
When CBD binds to receptors in the ECS, it prevents naturally occurring endocannabinoids in your body from breaking down, allowing them to have a lasting effect on your body. A lot of exciting research is being done every day to uncover more about the benefits of CBD and its relationship with the endocannabinoid system.
Did you know? Hemp and cannabis are both varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant, though hemp contains little to no THC and can be legally grown in the U.S. as of the 2018 Farm Bill. CBD products derived from cannabis, however, will contain THC and are not federally legal. Level Select CBD only uses hemp-derived CBD legally grown in the USA with 0% THC.
The Different Types of CBD
CBD is found primarily in the stalks and flowers of the hemp plant, though there are different extraction methods a manufacturer might use to yield a Full Spectrum oil, Broad Spectrum oil or isolate. Though they may all be marketed under the name “CBD,” each has its own unique profile, and may affect your experience with CBD. Before you buy, it’s best to know what they mean.
Full Spectrum CBD
Full Spectrum CBD preserves the natural profile of bioactive compounds present in the hemp plant used during extraction. This typically includes other cannabinoids, including low levels of THC (less than 0.3 percent by dry weight, per federal guidelines), and terpenes. A terpene is an essential oil that gives a strain of hemp its particular scent. (Terpenes are also the reason oranges smell like oranges, and lavender like lavender, etc.) The combination of all the compounds present in Full Spectrum CBD tends to produce a synergistic effect in the body, known as the entourage effect. At Level Select, we never use Full Spectrum oil in our products to eliminate any risk of THC in our CBD.
Broad Spectrum CBD
Broad Spectrum CBD can be a great option for CBD users who don’t want THC, those who are wary of having THC appear on a drug test, or who feel they might be particularly susceptible to THC’s effects. Level Select CBD is made with Broad Spectrum CBD derived from hemp that they grow themselves to ensure that there is 0.0% THC, so you can enjoy only the pure, non-psychoactive benefits of CBD.
Like Broad Spectrum CBD, CBD isolate is also completely THC-free. However, CBD isolate is exactly what its name implies — pure CBD, without any of the beneficial properties of other cannabinoids and terpenes.
The Benefits of CBD
Though more research is still being conducted to understand the full scope of CBD’s benefits, what we know now points to promising applications for a variety of needs. Here are some of CBD’s most common benefits:
- It may help reduce inflammation. CBD interacts with the serotonin and vanilloid receptors in the brain, helping you manage muscle soreness. Topical CBD, in the form of creams and roll-ons, provide localized relief when applied directly to the skin after a strenuous workout or long day on your feet.
- It may help improve mobility. Whether you’re an athlete, work on your feet or are starting to feel the effects of old age, CBD has been shown to help increase mobility for easier mornings and less stiffness throughout the day.
- It can help promote relaxation and healthier sleep. One study found that, of 72 adults who took CBD regularly, almost 80 percent of them experienced less anxiousness, and nearly 67 percent reported better-quality sleep.
Want to learn about more exciting benefits of CBD? Check out our article: What Is CBD and How Do You Use It?
How to Take CBD
CBD can be applied topically in the form of creams and roll-ons to areas where you’d like to target for relief. For whole-body wellness, you can take CBD oil drops that are designed for everyday use. For maximum bioavailability, take a dropperful under the tongue and let it sit there for 30-60 seconds, until most of it is absorbed. This helps the CBD enter the bloodstream more efficiently. Level Select CBD offers varieties of CBD drops that also contain immune-supporting Vitamin C or sleep-promoting melatonin, for specific needs.
How to Choose the Right CBD Product for You
To choose the right CBD product for you, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:
- Why am I taking CBD? Is it for muscle soreness or reduced stress/better sleep? This will help you determine whether you want a topical product or CBD oil drops.
- How was the CBD produced? Can I see the lab results? The most reputable CBD brands will be transparent about their manufacturing processes, the origin of their hemp and any third-party Certificates of Analysis (CoAs) to indicate any contaminants. You can access Level Select’s CoAs here.
- How strong do I want my CBD? If it’s your first time, we recommend starting low and working your way up. Level Select offers three different “levels,” or strengths, of its CBD oil drops to help you find the best dosage for your body. Level 1 CBD Oil Drops, with 1200 mg of CBD per bottle, is perfect for anyone who’s new to CBD. Since CBD interacts with everybody’s individual biochemistry differently, listen to your body and keep a journal to track how you’re feeling.
CBD At Level Select
If you’d like to learn more about our products, feel free to visit our FAQ. For more in-depth information on all things CBD, check out our blog and follow us at @LevelSelectCBD on social media.
James Han is a writer, editor and content strategist based in Los Angeles. When he’s not deep in a Google Doc, you can find him reading, watching films and taking long walks.
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MedicineNet - What Is the Function of Endocannabinoids?
Healthline - A Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System
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Harvard Health Publishing - Does CBD help with arthritis pain?
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) - Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series