CBD: What Is It and What Does It Do?

Curious about CBD and its potential health benefits? Discover what CBD is, and how it works. From chronic pain relief to reduced anxiety, learn all about CBD and its potential uses.

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CBD has many health benefits. What are they, and how can CBD be safely used to maximize them?

Seems like CBD has gained mythic status these days. It’s showing up in a crazy array of products, including body lotion, gummies, and even coffee. Why? What is it about CBD that makes it such a sought-after product? What are its beneficial effects?

Turns out it has many health benefits for those who struggle with chronic pain and who don’t want the mind-altering effects that are a trademark of THC, or the potential side effects that can sometimes come with prescribed pharmaceutical drugs. Sufferers of arthritis and Crohn’s disease are finding relief from this naturally occurring oil found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. Even those with cancer-related pain can find relief through the use of CBD.

Let’s talk about CBD. Is it a drug? Will it get you high? Can it help you? Read on for some basics about CBD that will help you discern whether it’s right for you.

What Is CBD & Where does it come from?

CBD comes from the Cannabis Sativa plant, which contains many active compounds known as cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of these compounds. 

CBD is not psychoactive; it won’t get you high. It works with the pain receptors in the body to relieve pain but does not jumpstart the euphoric feeling that comes from another cannabinoid, THC.

There are three types of CBD — CBD isolate (pure, highly refined), broad-spectrum (doesn’t contain THC but does contain other cannabinoids), and full-spectrum (does contain small amounts of THC). 

CBD as an effective pain management tool is as old as time. Thousands of years ago, the medicinal applications of CBD made cannabis seeds a must for any traveller’s kit. Where folks went, cannabis followed.  These days, people often turn to CBD to help manage pain and other uncomfortable symptoms because it does work, and because it has no side effects.

How is CBD Different from Marijuana and Hemp?

CBD is derived from marijuana plants and also from hemp plants. Marijuana and hemp plants are cannabis plants. 

Folks who talk about marijuana, however, are generally referencing cannabis products that are made from the dried flowers, leaves, and stems of the plant.

Marijuana plants contain more THC than hemp plants. So, CBD that comes from marijuana may contain more THC, whereas CBD derived from hemp avoids the addition of larger amounts of THC. 

Is Cannabidiol (CBD) a Drug?

Under United Nations drug control conventions, CBD is considered a controlled substance. It is often used for medicinal purposes and can be found in a variety of pharmaceutical products. 

What Are the Health Benefits of CBD?

CBD is not a cure-all, but many people have reported that it helps them manage pain, inflammation, nausea, fatigue, and more. Studies confirm this. Let’s take a dive into some of CBD’s tried-and-true health benefits.

Chronic and neuropathic pain, anxiety and other mental health conditions, cancer-related symptoms, HIV/AIDS symptoms and neurological conditions are some of the best-known maladies that CBD can help with via oils or tinctures or lotions or even gummies and drinks. 

The goal is to reduce the intensity of symptoms and, simply, to improve an individual’s overall quality of life.

Folks with MS, for instance, often suffer with neuropathic pain, spasticity (muscle stiffness and spasms), fatigue, and general pain. CBD taken as oils, tinctures, creams, lotions, capsules, or gummies have been proven to help those with MS manage their symptoms.

Some find it improves their driving, perhaps because spasticity has been reduced.

CBD ranks highly as an anti-inflammatory. The painful, inflamed joints that are the signature symptoms of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis?  The application of CBD, some with menthol or cooling properties added to the product, has been known to provide instant relief. 

For those who suffer with inflammation of the colon (Eg. ulcerative colitis), CBD’s pain-relieving qualities and anti-inflammatory effects are a balm for the soul. Best part? No intoxication or high. CBD provides just straight-forward, simple relief.

Many migraine sufferers report that CBD oil helps reduce the severity and duration of their nasty headaches.

Those with epilepsy may find that CBD provides antiepileptic effects such as a reduction in seizures. Just be sure to read the label and use products that do not contain THC.

CBD has proven anti-depressant-like effects. Depression and anxiety are two of the range of mental health disorders that pharmaceutical CBDs have been known to help.

These conditions are the tip of the iceberg. There are many sources online that substantiate the use of CBD to mitigate many of the symptoms that come with several disorders and diseases.

Although much of the favorable evidence that supports the use of CBD as a health benefit is anecdotal, clinical evidence that supports the efficacy of CBD to treat many medical conditions is growing. 

How to use CBD

Tinctures, capsules, sticks, and balm are just some of the CBD products that can be used safely for mental health and / or acute pain relief. Some have added benefits from ingredients such as arnica and vitamin E, which help relieve pain and inflammation.

For a cooling sensation that gives immediate relief when applied to the skin, try a Releaf Stick. Or give Active Releaf Wellness Tincture a try; it’s an internal remedy that can help relieve inflammation, sleep troubles, headaches, migraines, joint and muscle tightness and pain, digestive complaints, and anxious feelings.

A soothing alternative for muscle and pain relief is a CBD Releaf Balm, which is great for the body’s hard-to-reach inflamed, painful places. It’s naturally inspired and made with broad-spectrum cannabinoids, essential oils, cocoa butter, and beeswax.

Also easy-to-use and easily accessible are dietary supplements, drinks, and edibles. These effectively treat a variety of adverse effects related to a number of health conditions.

Is CBD Safe to Use? Risks and side effects of CBD

Safety is key. There are some rules-of-thumb to keep in mind when considering CBD as a health benefit. 

One thing to consider — because it doesn’t have psychoactive properties, CBD has low abuse potential. But some products also contain THC. Be wary, and shop smart.

There are times when it’s best not to take CBD at all. 

CBD is generally well tolerated. However, certain conditions such as taking other medications combined with CBD can provide a detrimental experience with dangerous side effects. The duration of effects will depend on the combination and the amount taken.

Adverse reactions can include diarrhea, fatigue, and appetite changes.  

Avoid potentially harmful reactions by discussing CBD products and the medications you take with your healthcare provider. In particular, the following should not be taken with CBD:

  • pain medications
  • antidepressants
  • seizure medications
  • diabetes medications

Additives such as other cannabinoids (THC, for instance) may also cause intense effects that are unexpected and considered adverse.


Although both are cannabinoids derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant, THC has psychoactive properties and CBD does not. The reason for this is that they affect different receptors in the brain. 

More specifically, CBD and THC have the same molecular structure but the arrangement of the molecules determine the varying effects they have on the body.

FAQ About CBD:

What’s the Best Way to Take CBD?

There are lots of options. Some find that a peanut-sized dab of topical CBD lotion on an arm or a hip is enough to induce a state of relaxation. Applying this to an inflamed ligament or sore back can localize the relief.

For others, tinctures work. Edibles such as gummies or baked goods are the go-to for many. Just be sure to check product labels before you buy. There are varying strengths and spectrums on the market. Some contain THC as well as CBD; some are 100% CBD.  

Can CBD Help with Anxiety?

CBD is a go-to for many people with anxiety and depression, but it’s important to seek and treat the root cause and to keep in mind that folks will react differently to varying levels of CBD. 

Some people find that a combination of CBD and THC is what they need to help them get to a nice, mellow state of being.

Will CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

CBD will not show up on a drug test but since some CBD products have added THC, it’s best to be cautious. 

Can I Take CBD While Pregnant?

Best to step back from CBD use while pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Can I Give It to My Dog?

There are some good products on the market, but research is a little skimpy at this time. Read the label and use with caution.

Is CBD Safe for People with Cancer?

Traditional pain medications don’t always help mitigate the nausea, vomiting, and pain that unfortunately come with cancer. Those who suffer from cancer-related symptoms have therefore started seeking alternative therapies, including natural remedies such as CBD.  

While research on the effectiveness is mixed, CBD is a safe alternative to traditional products for the treatment of various cancer-related maladies. Still, do your research. Check the labels and consult a healthcare professional so you choose the product that is right for you.


Parkinson’s Disease, MS (multiple sclerosis), Epilepsy, inflammatory diseases, gastrointestinal disorders — these are only a few of the medical conditions that trouble our world today. Studies on the efficacy of CBD to treat a myriad of symptoms of these maladies are catching up to the overwhelming anecdotal evidence that supports CBD as a treatment option.

The best part? There are many wonderful, easy-to-use products on the market today. A little research will help you find the product that will work best for you in terms of how it is ingested or applied, what symptoms it will help relieve, and what additives are part of that product’s makeup (always read the label before you purchase). 

Best of all, CBD is not addictive and will not get you high. It will, however, help you settle after an anxious day, cool your sore, inflamed joints, and help reduce muscle spasms. Have a headache? Try a tincture.

CBD has been used as a natural health aid for thousands of years. Safe and effective, and available in many easy-to-use forms, it’s become one of today’s most trusted remedies for bodies that hurt.

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