CBD is more than just the latest health fad, which is typically established by word-of-mouth and debunked by science.  If anything, not only have many of its health claims been proven true – or shown promise – but for the first time since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, anyone can obtain cannabis or cannabis-derived products, even without a prescription.

But if you want to take the leap into CBD, it’s very important to know what you’re jumping into. Let’s take a look at the basics and see if CBD supplements are right for you.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. The levels vary depending on the specific species and strain, but ever since its discovery, medical marijuana growers started breeding plants to keep THC levels down to nearly zero, while drastically increasing CBD levels.

CBD also acts as an “antagonist” to THC. This means that it reduces the potency of the psychoactive substance. In fact, you can use it to soften the effects of being “high” – a valuable tool if you use prescription THC and accidentally overdo it.

Will CBD Make Me High?

In a word, “no”. CBD binds to different receptors in the body. This is what makes CBD so appealing to many prescription and non-prescription users. You get the same relief from many different symptoms without impairing your co-ordination or judgment. Consequently, users can drive, operate machinery or perform their jobs.

What is the Difference Between Prescription and Non-Prescription CBD?

You can get CBD from two separate sources. One requires a prescription, while the other doesn’t. A lot of people use “cannabis” and “marijuana” interchangeably; however, this isn’t an accurate way to classify it.

Cannabis is a genus– an umbrella under which psychoactive marijuana and industrial hemp are classified. Why is this important? Because it creates the fine line between controlled (prescription) cannabis and the less regulated health products available to everyone.


Put simply, marijuana is a generic word referring to the multitude of other plants within the cannabis genus responsible for making people high. Species like cannabis sativa and cannabis indica both fall into this category.

Because marijuana is capable of containing high THC (and belongs to a different group), anything derived from this species – even if it’s been bred for high CBD with almost no THC – is considered a controlled substance, making it illegal in most states without a prescription.


Hemp has been around since the dawn of agriculture, roughly 10,000 years ago. It came into existence when breeders growing cannabis sativa L. isolated the non-flowering hemp plants from the THC-rich flower plants. Since then, this species of cannabis has been used to this day in products like soap, fibres and concrete – to name a few.

More importantly for us, hemp’s high CBD content provides the non-prescription products available – and legal – in all 50 states.

The loopholes allowing for consumption stem from hemp’s legal status and the low THC content of these health items. As long as the product’s THC level is less than 0.3%, it’s considered a health supplement.

What Will CBD do for Me?

This is where it gets tricky. While there’s a lot of great research out there, we still have plenty to learn; however, there’s a great deal of anecdotal evidence to help counterbalance the lack of established – but still solid and compelling – peer-reviewed studies.


CBD users have reported relief from all kinds of pain. Things like arthritis, fibromyalgia, headaches and joint pain are just a few on this list.

According to a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Cannabinoids are potent anti-inflammatory agents”. That same study also found that CBD effectively helped mitigate the symptoms and severity of arthritis in mice.

Neurological Issues

This a pretty large category to cover. But anecdotal and scientific evidence shows promise when it comes to treating a variety of neurological and mental health issues.

For instance, one study showed that CBD has antipsychotic properties, which is good news for people suffering from conditions like schizophrenia.

Another published study found that CBD has conclusively beneficial effects in controlling seizures. This is good news for epilepsy patients, who often don’t respond well to conventional drugs.  

Evidence also exists for CBD as a viable option for those suffering from anxiety. This is especially important, since the paranoia and increased heart rate associated with THC means it could cause complications, rather than help, those with anxiety.


Whether you’re dealing with illegal substances or legal ones, like alcohol and nicotine, addiction is a very difficult thing to overcome. One of the biggest obstacles faced by addicts are the severe withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting. What’s even more compelling is that nicotine cravings didn’t increase when these individuals reduced their smoking levels.

Similar evidence exists for opioid addiction, as CBD has been found to “inhibit drug-seeking behavior”.

One study showed that CBD helped people cut back on the number of cigarettes they smoked – an important first step on the road to quitting if “cold turkey” isn’t right for you.

How Can I Take CBD?

At its core, non-prescription CBD oils are extracted from the hemp plant and then carefully crafted to be used in different ways. Chances are, there’s a method out there for everyone.

Direct Ingestion

Perhaps the simplest way to get your dose of non-prescription CBD is by ingesting the pure oil. You only need a small amount (usually less than a milliliter).

Keep in mind, however, that it can take some time before the product kicks in. It can take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes, depending on your size, how much you ate and a variety of factors. If you want quick relief, either use it on an empty stomach or try another, more direct, method.


Tinctures are pretty popular due to their simplicity, variety and potency. Their usually come with eyedroppers for accurate dosing.

Using tinctures is easy. The directions advise you to put a few drops on your tongue (the specific amount varies from one product to another). In this case, the mucous membranes in your mouth are primarily responsible for absorption, making it considerably faster than ingestion.


This is more of a niche market, but a popular one nonetheless. Users of e-cigarettes (“vapers”) often enjoy this method, as they can inhale CBD using their own conventional device.

CBD additives can be placed into regular e-liquids in a common device. Another option is to vape it as an oil, in which case, a separate tank and coil are required (albeit at little cost).

Vaping also happens to be the fastest way to feel CBD’s effects, as it goes straight from your lungs into the bloodstream.

Foods and Snacks

If you don’t like the taste of CBD or aren’t interested in vaping, you can always add the oil to your food. If the food you eat is high in fatty enzymes, it actually helps speed up absorption. In other words, eat healthy if you plan to do it this way.

As for specific CBD edibles, the list is virtually endless. Cookies, candy and even gums are readily available online.


Topical creams are quite popular for CBD users, but their purpose is a bit limited. These products are used to treat focal pain. For instance, if your knee hurts, you apply it there. If you need general relaxation, opt for the other methods above.

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Jennifer Harmony

Jennifer Harmony