What is CBD? A Beginners Guide to CBD

What is CBD? A Beginners Guide

The public perception about Cannabis has shifted greatly over the past few years. As more science, information, and anecdotal success stories have become made available, people have become aware of the many benefits of the plant

We made this guide so that you can become quickly educated about CBD and learn about how to use it to your advantage.

In this guide you will find:

  • An overview of CBD
  • How CBD works in the body
  • How CBD is extracted
  • The various types of CBD
  • The difference between hemp and marijuana derived CBD
  • Ways to consume CBD
  • How choose the right dosage of CBD
  • Where to buy CBD
  • What to look for when buying CBD

An Overview of CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the 100 chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, has become a popular natural remedy due to its efficiency in helping the body with several common ailments.

Another popular chemical compound found in the cannabis plant is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. While THC causes sensations of getting “high” CBD has no psychoactive effects and will not get the consumer “high.” Due to this non-psychoactive nature, CBD is an extremely appealing option for those who are seeking relaxation, relief from pain, and much more.

One of the main reasons for the rise in the CBD market is due to research that has begun to emerge on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Much of what we know about the ECS is still in an infancy state, yet the breakthroughs that have been discovered have shown just how powerful various cannabinoids such as CBD are.

You may be wondering how CBD gets from the hemp or marijauna plant and into products available on the market. In order to process it into a consumable product, CBD must be extracted from either hemp or marijuana plants. The CBD can then be made into a CBD oil with a carrier oil such as MCT or hemp oil, capsules, gummies, other consumable products, and topicals.


How Does CBD Work?

The relationship between CBD and the body is rather complicated. The way in which CBD benefits are experienced in the body are thought to be through various psychosocial processes rather than one singular mechanism of action.

As previously mentioned, CBD acts on the body's ECS. CBD has a particular affinity for both the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. Additionally, CBD binds to several other cannabinoid receptors located in the ECS such as GPR3, GPR6, TRPV1, and TRPV2. It is highly possible that the pain reducing and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD work through these pathways.

Being the versatile, naturally occurring compound that CBD is, it works outside of the ECS as well. In mice, CBD has been shown to have a mild activation effect on a main serotonin receptor, 5-HT1A. This would help explain how it helps aid in reducing anxiety and depression. A 2015 neuropharmacology study found that “Cannabidiol induces rapid-acting antidepressant-like effects.”

CBD also was found to act on peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) in mice. This may also explain its role in helping to reduce inflammation in the body.

As more research becomes available, we will understand better just how CBD is able to aid in alleviating ailments such as anxiety, depression, pain, inflammation, and much more.

Is CBD a Drug?

From a technical standpoint, CBD is considered to be a psychoactive substance. This is due to the fact that it can affect mood and perception, albeit very subtly. While it does meet classification for a psychoactive substance, it is important to not that CBD cannot cause intoxication like marijuana. For example, caffeine is a psychoactive substance. In fact, it is the most abundantly consumed psychoactive substance in the world.

While CBD is classified as psychoactive, it is non-intoxicating.

CBD Extraction Methods

There are two main methods of extraction and they are not created equally. Let’s take a look at both.

Alcohol extraction

The biochemistry of certain materials can be altered by soaking it in alcohol. When the hemp or marijuana plant is left to soak in alcohol, it can draw out cannabinoids such as CBD. This process is less than ideal when comparing it to Supercritical CO2 extraction.


Supercritical CO2 Extraction

As technology has continued to progress in the cannabis and hemp industry, safer and more efficient manners of extraction have become utilized. Supercritical CO2 extraction utilizes carbon dioxide to pull the desired CBD from the hemp or marijuana plant.

The main benefit of this method is that it allows for precise isolation of specific cannabinoid compounds.

All of our products at BeCalm CBD were extracted from hemp plants in this manner.

Ways to Consume CBD

Once CBD has been extracted into the plant, it can then be applied to various products that can be consumed or used. There are three main ways of consuming CBD: through ingestion, sublingually, topically.



This is the most popular method for consumption. When CBD is ingested, it passes through the digestive system, becomes metabolized in the liver, and the compounds are then sent into the bloodstream. If you take vitamins or other supplements, this is how they are delivered into the body as well

The most common methods of ingestion are gummies, capsules, other edibles, and beverages.



For those who are searching for quick acting CBD effects, the sublingual method of consumption is most ideal. By holding CBD oil under the tongue for up to 90 seconds, the mucous membrane of the mouth can absorb the oil directly into the bloodstream. This allows the active ingredients to completely bypass the digestive system and liver, and directly interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system.

Pure CBD oil, tinctures, and other concentrates can be consumed in this manner.

View our CBD oil products


These specific CBD products are designed so that they can be applied to the skin. When applied to the skin, the active ingredients are absorbed directly through the skin without ever needing to enter the bloodstream.

For those looking for specific, isolated pain relief, topical CBD products are a wonderful option. They typically come in creams, lotions, or salves and can be applied to wherever the pain is located.


Hemp Derived CBD Vs. Marijuana Derived CBD

When it comes to classifying where CBD originates from, it can come from either hemp or marijuana plants. Despite which plant CBD is derived from, it does not change on a molecular level. CBD is CBD.

The legality of CBD also heavily depends on whether it is derived from hemp or marijuana. Marijuana derived CBD remains illegal under federal law in the United States.

While this is the case, there are some important differences to distinguish between CBD that is derived from either plant.

Hemp Derived CBD

CBD that is derived from hemp plants comes from industrial grown hemp plants. These plants are primarily grown for their fiber and seeds. While industrial hemp plants do contain THC, under US law, it must contain less than 0.3%.

Full spectrum CBD that is derived from industrial hemp plants also contains less than 0.3% THC. Both broad spectrum and CBD isolate contain no THC.

Marijuana Derived CBD

Marijuana plants differ from hemp plants in appearance and their level of THC. Unlike hemp plants, marijuana plants contain a more lush appearance and flowers. Under US law, any plant containing greater than 0.3% THC is defined as a marijauna plant. While marijuana plants are primarily grown to be utilized for the intoxicating properties of THC, there are some plant strains that have rich levels of CBD.

The Various Types of CBD

There are three main types of CBD: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. In this section, you will learn about the main differences between them.

Full Spectrum CBD

If a CBD extract is full spectrum, this simply means that it contains all of the phytochemicals that occur in the plant naturally. This includes the CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, essential oils, and trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%).

If you are particularly concerned about being drug tested, it is wise to stay away from full spectrum CBD products. Given that full spectrum CBD contains trace amounts of THC, it can lead to a failed drug test even with the non-psychoactive amount of THC in the products.

Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad spectrum CBD, like full spectrum CBD, contains all phytochemicals that occur within the plant except for THC. After the initial extraction process is complete, the THC is completely removed.

Broad spectrum CBD products are a good choice for those who are concerned about being drug tested.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate differs from both broad and full spectrum CBD in that it contains no other ingredients from the hemp or marijuana plant. While CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, it lacks the other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN, CBDV, CBC, and CBDA that provide synergistic benefits alongside CBD.

Before 2015, many people believed that CBD isolate would be more effective than broad or full spectrum CBD. A study conducted at Lautenberg Center for General Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem found that those who utilized full spectrum CBD found better relief than those who consumed only CBD isolate.

Choosing the Right
CBD Dosage

While finding the right dosage is important, there is no one size fits all answer when it comes to CBD. The right CBD dosage for you is just that; the right dosage for you. This requires patience and some experimentation.

In fact, it should be noted that how CBD affects an individual can vary quite a bit. This primarily has to do with a host of factors that can impact how CBD is processed in the body.

Some of these factors include:

  • Your metabolism
  • Your gender
  • Your overall level of health and wellness
  • Your body’s biochemistry
  • Any genetic predispositions
  • Your general tolerance level of CBD


It is important to experiment and monitor the way your body and mind responds to the dosages you try. We recommend to always start low and assess your tolerance in this manner. Why start with a high dosage if a lower dosage would work just as well?


Where Can I Purchase CBD?

As CBD has grown in popularity, the availability of it has increased too. There are three main places to buy CBD as of 2020.


Buying CBD online in 2020 is safe, convenient, and trustworthy. Of course, this highly depends on the seller of CBD. Buying online presents a major opportunity for you to research the seller of the CBD (more on this shortly).

Buying online presents the biggest upside since it allows you vet the seller and take your time in making a decision. Typically, the prices are better too considering the fact that there is less overhead on behalf of the online CBD seller.

Head Shops / Brick and Mortar Stores

Head shops or other specialty retail stores carry CBD and other hemp related products. There is a particular downfall that could come with purchasing CBD at head shops, however. Owners can pick and choose what to sell, even if the products are not safe or effective.

In fact, there have been numerous reports about head shops or other stores that sell products that claim to have CBD in them but have none at all.


The third and final option for purchasing CBD is dispensaries. Dispensaries are government regulated and function like retail stores.

While this may be a good option, if marijuana is not legalized for recreational use where you live, you will need a medical card or doctor recommendation to purchase at this type of store.

What To Look For When
Buying CBD

While there are more options than ever to choose from when buying CBD, there are some important considerations to be made when looking to buy CBD.

With that being said, the quality of CBD products can be quite far ranging. To make sure you are purchasing products of the highest purity and safety, below is a list of indicators to look for.

  • Derived from hemp plants via supercritical CO2 extraction
  • USA organic, non-GMO hemp plants
  • Products made in the USA Products made in an FDA compliant facility
  • Products made in an GMP compliant facility
  • Lab tested, particularly by a third party.


Another important aspect to consider is whether or not you want your CBD product to contain any THC or not. A full spectrum CBD product will contain trace amounts of THC while broad spectrum CBD and CBD isolate will not contain any THC.

We are proud to say that all of our products at BeCalm CBD pass the above criteria.