What Is CBD, and Why Should I Care?

September 13, 2017 | by Staff

Marijuana, pot, ganja, weed, Mary Jane; we have all heard these nicknames for cannabis being casually tossed around for decades. But what really is cannabis? What can it do for me? Why should I care?

Cannabis has become a very hot societal topic, with consumption in some way, shape or form, now legal in 30 U.S. states. Have we become a nation of stoners? Quite the opposite, in fact.

To better understand why American’s are progressively turning away from traditional pharmaceutical solutions and instead, turning to plant-based medicine as old as time, there are a few terms that must be understood.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of at least 113 active cannabinoid compounds in a cannabis plant. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the part of the cannabis plant that will induce the psychoactive response or get you “high”. Of all the 113+ known cannabinoid compounds in a single cannabis plant, THC is the only one that is mind altering.

CBD has been shown to relieve pain and inflammation, reduce anxiety, improve sleep, fight cancer, alleviate nausea, stop spasms, ease PMS symptoms and even help with epilepsy. It has presented promise in alleviating symptoms associated with diabetes, lupus, motor disorders, Parkinson’s Disease, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Osteoporosis and various pediatric conditions. Ironically, CBD reduces the psychoactive high from THC.

For decades, we have been subjected to archaic laws that have banned a plant that naturally produces what is demonstrating to be one of the most important medicines for modern diseases.

Because of the complexity of the plant and the fact that it can affect multiple different pathways in the body at once, it has been difficult to study. Despite this, this therapeutic plant has shown in countless situations, to provide relief, and in some cases remission, from innumerable diseases and chronic conditions.


There is still much to learn about CBD. The effects of CBD in the body are comprehensive and far-reaching. What we do know, however, is that the cannabinoid is known to either directly or indirectly affect the receptors responsible for pain modulation, sleep-wake cycle, and mood and stress management.

It is significant to note that while CBD is a powerful medicine on its own, the compound’s effect is amplified when combined with other cannabinoids, namely THC. This cooperating synergy between marijuana compounds has been dubbed the “entourage effect”. The push towards whole plant medicine is certainly appropriate in certain cases as it provides another path towards healing, as some patients may respond well to CBD and others to a combination of CBD and THC.

Finding a reliable, pure and potent source of CBD, however, can be as frustrating and confusing as the shifting laws surrounding the legality of the plant. CBD is legally allowed in 44 states. Only six states – Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, South Dakota, Indiana and West Virginia – still consider all parts of the cannabis plant, including CBD, to be illegal.

Buyer beware, though. There are only five states where a consumer can be certain that the CBD content claimed on the label is accurate. In adult-use (REC) cannabis states all CBD products are tested for purity and potency, so in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and most recently in Nevada, you can be sure that you are getting what you pay for. California, Maine, and Massachusetts will soon join that group.

There are many brands of CBD out there, and ultimately it will come down to availability and personal preference. CBD can be extracted and processed in a variety of ways. Leafly has created a guide to introduce medical cannabis users to some of these formulations. Some of the most popular and effective high-CBD strains include ACDC, Harlequin, Ringo’s Gift, Stephen Hawking Kush, Sweet and Sour Widow, Pennywise, Cannatonic, Harle-Tsu, Canna-Tsu, and Sour Tsunami. Leafly provides a comprehensive breakdown of each of these strains and where to find them.

HelloMD, the nation’s largest online community of medical cannabis patients, experts, brands and trusted retailers, recently completed a massive study on CBD in partnership with Brightfield Group, a strategic market research firm focused on the cannabis industry. The findings shed much light on rates of CBD usage, CBD user profiles, medical conditions treated by CBD, brand preferences and CBD consumer satisfaction.

Key findings included:

  • Top medical conditions treated by CBD are anxiety, depression, insomnia and joint pain
  • 80% use at least once per week and 41% use daily
  • Vaping is the preferred method of consumption
  • 58% of CBD-only users are women
  • 42% of CBD users have stopped using traditional medications and use cannabis instead
  • Top brands reported were Kiva, Care by Design, Bloom Farms and CW Charlotte’s Web
  • 90% of respondents would be likely to buy marijuana-derived CBD-only products or buy again

We are a nation filled with chronic illness and pain. More than 40% of the entire population, or over 133 million American’s, are affected by generally incurable and ongoing chronic disease. By 2020, that number is projected to grow to an estimated 157 million, with 81 million having multiple conditions, (National Health Council). Chronic pain is becoming an epidemic with over 100 million American’s, or one in ten, experiencing pain every day for three months or more. The most common types of pain reported are headache/migraine, lower back pain, neck pain and facial pain.

We are also a nation in the throes of a severe drug addiction crisis. American’s consume over 80% of the global opioid supply. This is almost incomprehensible.

Common side effects of opioid consumption include sedation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, physical dependence and addiction, tolerance, and respiratory depression.

The most commonly reported side effects of CBD are dry mouth and drowsiness — which is probably what most are looking for in this natural anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory plant. CBD users do not build up a tolerance and the cannabinoid is non-habit forming.

When faced with the question, what can CBD do for me, the answers are incalculable, but the results remain the same.