Just like you, the team here at HDP (High Desert Pure) sometimes looks around at all the products labeled THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBN (cannabinol) and CBG (cannabigerol) and thinks to ourselves: This is too many TLAs (three-letter acronyms).
Fortunately, we’re here to be your guide to all things TLA. Also, to all things CBD.
CBD stands for cannabidiol. Given that the US CBD market was valued at $2.8 billion, it seems unlikely that you’ll stop seeing that particular TLA any time soon. Seeing as those three little letters seem to mean so much, let’s get to know them better. Read on, and soon, you’ll be a CBDEAAACPTTTAP (CBD expert and all around cool person to talk to at parties).
What Does CBD Stand For?
Cannabis is packed with different chemical compounds, many of which have similar names. If you’re confused, you aren’t alone!
CBD stands for cannabidiol. The letters CBD come from the first, third, and eighth letters of cannabidiol. It’s pronounced ka-nuh-BI-dee-ol.
CBD Stands For “Cannabidiol”
CBD comes from the cannabis plant, just like THC, CBN, and CBG. Sometimes, people will talk about “hemp-derived” CBD—this actually comes from a cannabis plant, too, because hemp is just a version of cannabis with little to no THC.
There are two basic strains of cannabis—Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, plus hybrids of the two. Hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa.
People have been cultivating cannabis for thousands of years. Our best guess is that cannabis is endemic to Asia; it was first cultivated there in around 10,000 BCE. But it’s been a global force for thousands of years, experiencing adoration and prohibition in turns from Egypt to Zambia to Brazil.
As part of the US’s “war on drugs,” all forms of cannabis (including CBD) were made illegal with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. In the following years, some states voted to decriminalize cannabis and to make it available to patients on a medical basis. The 2018 farm bill removed from the Controlled Substances Act varieties of cannabis with little to no THC (which is to say, hemp). This change allowed consumers to buy products that included cannabis’s other compounds—including CBD—in all 50 states. No need to go into a dispensary!
What is Cannabidiol Used For?
When most people think of someone “using cannabis,” they probably have an image of someone smoking or eating an infused brownie to get high. To get that psychoactive “head high,” you need THC. THC is the psychoactive component in cannabis. But what is cannabidiol used for?
CBD is currently being studied so we can better understand its potentially beneficial uses for treating a huge range of ailments affecting both physical and mental health. Because these studies are still ongoing and nothing is proven, the FDA prohibits us from saying that CBD will cure X, Y, or Z malady. That said, some of the most exciting recent studies offer new insight into the potential benefits CBD may offer for folks suffering from psoriasis, joint pain, and inflammation.
So if you wanted to try CBD, where would you be likely to find it?
Now that CBD is legal nationwide, it’s showing up in a huge number of different products, from food to supplements to skincare.
Here’s a sample of the types of products you’ll see infused with CBD:
- Lotion: CBD lotions and creams can be applied like normal body lotions, but because of the addition of cannabidiol, some folks like to apply them to particularly uncooperative dry skin, skin ailments, or pain. For a full overview on CBD Lotion, check out our guide here.
- Balm: A CBD balm is similar to a CBD lotion, but a balm will usually be thicker, slightly harder to rub in, and more concentrated. Balms are great for targeting specific areas of the body.
- Relief Stick: A relief stick is another step thicker than a balm. It will hold a solid shape and come in a twist-up tube. While it’s not as easy to apply a relief stick across your whole body the way it would be with a lotion, relief sticks are perfect for treating specific areas. They’re also a great portable solution because you don’t need to get your hands covered in lotion or balm.
- Lip Balm: Like a relief stick, a lip balm is a great portable option and comes in a twist-up tube. CBD lip balms are used on the lips (which, you know, kind of goes without saying) both in the hopes of treating chapped lips and as a substitute for your everyday lip balm. Because CBD lip balms tend to be pretty small and less expensive than other CBD skin care products, they’re a great starting point for CBD newbies.
- Aloe Gel: Because aloe is thought to have soothing benefits for burns, bites, new tattoos, and other skin discomforts, people often reach for an aloe gel when they’re looking for relief. A CBD aloe gel has all the same restorative potential as a standard aloe gel, plus the potential benefits of CBD.
- Massage Oil: A CBD massage oil, unlike a CBD lotion, is not supposed to quickly absorb into the skin but keep the skin a bit slippery to allow for massages. Masseuses are increasingly allowing clients to opt for CBD massage oil in spas. Some CBD massage oils are also safe for intimate use, including High Desert Pure’s coconut CBD massage oil. Keep in mind that any CBD massage oil or lubricant is inherently oil-based (because it uses CBD oil), which means that it will degrade latex.
- Tincture: Many CBD fans also look for CBD oil and CBD tinctures as a way to ingest cannabidiol orally. People experiment with CBD tinctures for a huge range of desired effects. We recommend that anyone trying a CBD tincture use it consistently for at least a week before deciding if it’s making a difference; these products can take a few days to build in effectiveness. Tinctures are available in a wide range of strengths and flavors. Some are as potent as 5000 mg of CBD per bottle.
What’s The Difference: CBD vs. THC
So what’s the difference between CBD and THC? They’re both chemical compounds—called cannabinoids—from the cannabis plant, but what about their effects?
Cannabinoids interact with our bodies through the endocannabinoid system. All vertebrates have an endocannabinoid system—there’s one in every human body. This system is a network of receptors that regulate things like pain, appetite, and memory. When your system detects cannabinoid molecules, it amplifies the work the system is already doing. There’s much we still don’t know about the endocannabinoid system, but it’s thought that these interactions are the reason people associate cannabis with feelings like “the munchies” and pain relief.
Because THC causes that psychoactive “head high,” its effects can seem obvious. The effects of CBD might seem more subtle. Though CBD also interacts with the endocannabinoid system, it doesn’t give you a “head high.”
Here’s an overview of some of the differences between cannabidiol (CBD) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol):
|No psychoactive effects||Psychoactive effect|
|Comes from cannabis or hemp plants||Comes from cannabis plants|
|Legally available nationwide||Medical cannabis containing THC is legal in 37 states; recreational cannabis is legal in 18 states|
|Approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of epilepsy and Dravet syndrome in the drug Epidiolex||Not yet approved by the FDA in any specific medications|
|Available in topicals, gummies, edibles, oils, and vapes||Available in topicals, gummies, edibles, oils, and vapes|
|Currently in scientific studies and clinical trials to better understand potential health benefits and effects on seizures, blood pressure, chronic pain and neuropathic pain, and more||Currently in scientific studies and clinical trials to better understand potential health benefits and effects on seizures, blood pressure, chronic pain and neuropathic pain, and more|
What about other cannabinoids? How does CBD compare with CBN and CBG?
|Starts as CBG||Starts as CBD||The “mother of cannabinoids” from which all others are derived|
|Often sold on its own in products made with CBD isolate||Rarely sold on its own||Rarely sold on its own|
|Benefitted by the presence of other cannabinoids (through the “entourage effect”)||Benefitted by the presence of other cannabinoids (through the “entourage effect”)||Benefitted by the presence of other cannabinoids (through the “entourage effect”)|
|Being studied for a wide range of potential health benefits||Being studied largely for potential sedative effects||Being studied largely for potential analgesic effects|
|Appears in a wide range of products||Tends to appear in products advertised to promote sleep||Tends to appear in products advertised to relieve pain|
Is Cannabidiol Legal?
One of the questions we get asked most often is: Will I fail a drug test if I take CBD?
The short answer is no. The long answer is slightly more complicated.
For starters, you won’t fail a drug test if you’re using a topical—it doesn’t matter whether that topical contains CBD or THC. This is because topically applied cannabis doesn’t pass into your bloodstream, and drug tests measure the presence of cannabis in your urine (and blood).
So let’s assume you’re ingesting your CBD somehow—eating, smoking, or drinking it.
Cannabis drug tests are looking for THC, not CBD. CBD shouldn’t show up on a drug test. However, there are always stories floating around in the cultural consciousness about people who swear they got a false positive for cannabis on a drug test. There could be a few culprits behind this. First: Sometimes people make mistakes. There’s a chance your test could get bungled, or that the testing center is using an outdated test. Some people have successfully challenged tests performed with gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry which falsely flagged CBD as THC. That said, this type of test is very rare and is getting less common by the year.
There’s a slightly more likely way someone could end up with a positive result for THC after only ingesting CBD products. In the US, a CBD product must contain less than 0.3% THC. If a CBD product was at the uppermost limit of this range, that would mean it contained 3 mg of THC for every 997 mg of CBD. If you took thousands of milligrams of this type of CBD every day, you might eventually accidentally ingest enough THC that it would show up on a drug test. But this sort of dose is quite a bit higher than the standard, and probably not something the average CBD user needs to worry about.
There’s one more way CBD might trigger a positive result on a drug test. Unfortunately, the cannabis industry isn’t always as transparent as it should be. The precise amount of CBD in any given batch of cannabis tends to vary quite a bit, which means that it always raises our eyebrows when we see tinctures or topicals with potency numbers (for example, “1000 mg of CBD”) pre-printed on the container. There’s no way to predict down to the milligram how much CBD will be in this product until it’s made and tested. When you look for a CBD product, make sure the company provides third-party lab testing results on their website. Without these testing results, you can’t know for certain how much CBD is in your product—or how much THC. If the THC figure is 0.3%—or, even worse, higher than that—you’ll know to tread carefully. If the CBD figure is much lower than what’s promised on the label, you’ll know you’re being ripped off.
In short, drug tests are looking for THC, not CBD. Whether it’s a hair follicle test, a mouth swab, a urine test, or a blood test, it’s not looking for CBD. It’s looking for THC. Furthermore, most jobs seem to be moving away from testing for THC, so it’s getting less and less likely that you’ll need to worry about it in the future.
Is CBD Safe For Consumption?
Enough about drug testing—what are the potential side effects of CBD?
According to the Food and Drug Administration, potential adverse effects from the use of CBD include harm to the liver and fertility damage. It’s unclear how much CBD you would need to take to notice this sort of impact, but we’re hopeful that the FDA provides more clarity and guidance soon. The FDA also advises anyone using CBD to consider how the CBD might interact with other medication. Do you feel particularly tired when taking CBD in conjunction with a prescription? Have you noticed an impact on anxiety or other forms of mental health? It’s always wise to pay attention to these sorts of interactions. Ultimately, you’re your own best advocate, so if you don’t like the way CBD interacts with your system, set it aside. Do what’s best for you!
As the Mayo Clinic points out, hard and fast evidence for the benefits (and the risks) of CBD remains scarcer than we’d like. Though the FDA has only currently approved one CBD-based drug (Epidiolex), there are currently ongoing studies into the potential benefits of CBD in the treatment of schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. While CBD may not end up being a panacea for any of these conditions, the research will hopefully help us uncover other benefits or risks involved with the use of CBD.
5 Tips For Buying CBD Products
If you’re interested in trying CBD for yourself, you might feel daunted by the sheer number of products and brands. That’s why we’ve made a list of the top five things to consider when buying a CBD product.
Tip #1: Is the product full-spectrum?
Full-spectrum CBD versus pure CBD isolate—what’s the difference, and why should you care? If a product includes full-spectrum CBD, it means that the CBD was extracted from a cannabis plant in a way that retained as many of the natural compounds as possible. This means it will include not just CBD, but terpenes, essential oils, and potentially other cannabinoids. Because of the “entourage effect,” the idea that cannabis compounds are more effective in tandem than they are on their own, some companies (High Desert Pure included) believe that full-spectrum CBD is more effective than CBD isolate, which strips out everything except for the CBD.
Tip #2: Does the product have third-party lab testing results?
We love a third-party lab result! Before you buy a CBD product, always check to make sure the manufacturer offers test results online. They should be free, easy to access, and performed by a third-party laboratory (that has no financial ties to the manufacturer). Once you’ve made sure you’re working with a trustworthy brand, look up the specific product you’re planning to buy. How much CBD, exactly, is in that bottle of lotion? Does that tincture have measurable levels of THC? What about other cannabinoids? Make sure you know what you’re getting.
Tip #3: Is the product in the right form for your needs?
Everyone has a different favorite product, be it a gummy, a tincture, or a topical. Not every company will sell every type of product. Figure out what form of CBD usage feels most comfortable and useful to you, and go from there. If you’re looking for something to help with full-body wellness, maybe a tincture is your go-to. If you’re trying to help a specific skin ailment, you might be a future topical devotee.
Tip #4: Are you getting a good deal?
Friends don’t let friends overpay for CBD! Sometimes, companies will add a minuscule amount of CBD—or worse, plain old hemp seed oil—to a product and sell it at the price of a full-strength CBD product. The skincare market is especially guilty here. If you’re looking for high-quality CBD balms and lotions, they should have at least 250 mg of cannabinoids per container. 1000 mg is even better. But if you see a bottle of lotion with 10 mg, or even 50? It’s not going to be that different from an everyday lotion, and you’re paying a premium for no real effect.
Tip #5: Does the product have any other known cannabinoids?
When you take a peek at those third-party lab testing results, you should also keep an eye out for other cannabinoids. Maybe the product contains a trace amount of THC—if you’re not worried about getting drug tested, this could be a plus; if you are concerned about drug tests, maybe you’d rather choose another product. Does the product contain any CBN or CBG? Maybe those will help the entourage effect. Do your research and see if the product ticks all your boxes.
What Are The Benefits of CBD?
So—can CBD help you?
Research into the potential benefits of CBD is still ongoing, and we’re not legally allowed to make any sweeping health claims. This is a good place to start to understand more about the potential health benefits of CBD lotion. This overview by the New York Times compiles lots of great recent studies and surveys about what, if anything, CBD is doing for your body.
Here’s a table of what the article described:
|The Aim||The Evidence|
|Reducing seizures||Pretty dang good, given that the anti-seizure drug Epidiolex was approved. It was found effective in a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.|
|Alleviating anxiety||Mixed. Some studies have shown that CBD helps relieve anxiety; others have shown it’s no better than a placebo. We may need more research here before we can know if it definitely works or not.|
|Managing PTSD||Though there are promising animal studies, there’s no great evidence as to how much CBD may alleviate symptoms of PTSD in humans yet.|
|Improving sleep||We don’t have any great studies for this one just yet. During the Epidiolex trials, participants reported drowsiness which may have resulted from the CBD, but other studies show that CBD doesn’t make a measurable impact on sleep.|
|Alleviating depression||Again—no robust studies to prove this one way or another. We do have some promising research that CBD soothes depressed rats more quickly than antidepressants do, but it’s not proof, and you’re probably not a rat.|
|Reducing withdrawal symptoms||In a double-blind study of recovering heroin addicts, CBD was shown to help curb some of the withdrawal symptoms people experienced. But it wasn’t a huge study, and what works for one sort of withdrawal may not work for others.|
For even more information, here are some recent studies on other potential benefits of CBD and what the latest research has to say:
|The Aim||The Evidence|
|Lowering incidence of diabetes||Well, it seems to be working pretty well in mice. In this study, at least, mice treated with CBD produced less insulitis, which is the inflammation associated with diabetes. Again, you’re probably not a mouse, and even if you were, we’d need a bit more research, but it’s certainly not bad news.|
|Reducing pain from rheumatoid arthritis||A study of a topically applied CBD drug in Canada showed statistically significant improvements for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. It was a pretty small study, but the researchers conclude that it’s promising information and indicates that we need to keep studying this area.|
|Counteracting inflammation||Inflammation is kind of a vague term that gets bandied about. Technically, both of the studies above have to do with inflammation. Other things that have to do with inflammation—pain, cancers, tumors. A lot of things we’d like to understand better. This study shows promising results that cannabinoids can offer anti-inflammatory benefits, but it’s such a broad topic that we definitely need more research.|
Ever notice how passionate people get when talking about CBD? Us, too. That’s because for decades, there was a lot of fear surrounding cannabis in the United States. It’s also because some people believe their CBD products have been hugely beneficial to their health and want to make sure everyone hears about it. With opposing views like this, it’s no surprise it’s hard to wade through all the conflicting information about CBD online.
Whether you’re a CBD expert or just beginning your CBD journey, we hope you’re a little bit better equipped now to find the right products for you. Just remember our rules for choosing CBD products and you’ll do great. If you want to make your job extra simple, you can always buy from High Desert Pure. You can view our full product line here. If you’re looking for a bestselling topical, check out our 1200 mg full-spectrum CBD lotion, which is lightly scented with white tea. If you’re on the hunt for a super potent tincture, try our 5000 mg full-spectrum toffee-flavored CBD tincture.
To learn more about High Desert Pure, CBD, and the latest in cannabis science, subscribe to our newsletter. You can also check back here on the blog for our latest roundups of great products and exciting new research. And remember: CBD stands for cannabidiol!