Exactly What IS CBD?

what exactly is cbd

We're always a little hesitant when it's just letters.

We won't be able to pronounce the actual name!

CBD is everywhere in the news and for good reason.

RESEARCH is showing some pretty amazing qualities with a very strong safety profile.


If you're like us when we first started this process, you went online to find out about CBD.

There are 1000's of websites out there and some do a pretty good job.

Many tend to fall into scientific jargon that leaves your head spinning.

We'll attempt to answer what CBD is (and more importantly...isn't!) with no spin!

The good, the bad, and ugly.

We're going about it in a different way.

Where every other site TELLS you what CBD is.

We're going to answer YOUR questions about CBD.

That is how humans work after all.

We have questions.

Let's jump right into it.

There's sleep to be had and anxiety to be squashed!

Many of these questions will have full articles with even more valuable information.

We'll link to those pages from below as they're added.

Here are the questions we'll cover: 

  • What is CBD
  • Where does CBD come from
  • How is CBD different from THC
  • How does CBD work in the body
  • Is CBD safe
  • What's the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil
  • What are the benefits of CBD
  • Is CBD oil legal
  • Can CBD get you high
  • Can CBD make you tired
  • Can CBD go bad
  • Can you overdose on CBD
  • Will CBD make you fail a drug test
  • Are there side effects to CBD


If your question isn't answered, ask us directly at the bottom of this page! 

Let's get started.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol (we warned you!).

Some people say canna-ba-diol. Others say ca-nab-ba-diol.

Either way...same substance.

It's a chemical extract from the cannabis plant.

Technically, it's a little piece of fat called a lipid.

This isn't the same as cholesterol so you don't need to worry there.

CBD interacts with a very large system in our body that we all have.

It's called the endocannabinoid system or ECS.


how does cbd work in endocannabinoid system


Research is showing this system is tasked with balancing other key systems:

  • Endocrine system - hormones (mood, sleep, hunger, etc)
  • Nervous system - (mood, focus, sleep, etc)
  • Immune system - (inflammation, repair, etc)


Those might be important!

The ECS helps to nudge the different actors in these systems towards balance.

The technical word is homeostasis. It just means balance.

Like a tug-a-war where the middle ebbs and flows but stays right around the starting point.


Sometimes, a system needs a boost one way or the other (wake or sleep as an example).

But it generally needs to come back to balance.

If it's out of balance for too long, bad things can happen and that affects other systems in the body.

CBD has been shown to boost this system as needed in many specific ways.

There's a ton of research (can search here) if you want to see the actual research.

It's pretty fascinating stuff!

The ECS is about 600 million years old.

Every animal has one. Right down to sea urchins!

Mother nature loves to keep a tried and true approach that works.

So how do we get this CBD? 

Where does CBD come from?

CBD is extracted from industrial hemp.

Industrial hemp is just a legal name for cannabis plants that have less than .3% THC (we'll talk about that later).

Our CBD isolate will have zero THC.

Check out Do you need THC to activate CBD or CBD versus THC to understand why.

how is cbd different from thc

The only distinction between cannabis and hemp is the THC level.


THC itself and plants that have more than the .3% THC are schedule 1 drugs with the US government at the Federal level.

CBD is not!

The method of extraction is very important.

Some brands may use butane and other heavy solvents.

CO2 is the cleanest extraction method and is cold-processed.

Either way, all CBD products should be 3rd party tested clear of:

  • Solvents
  • Heavy metals
  • Pesticides
  • Bacteria
  • Mold
  • THC (in our opinion)


what is really good cbd

This is mandatory when choosing CBD to get rid of the many bad marketers out there who are just trying to make money.

If they don't post it directly on their site, that's a bad sign.


Ours is available at the top of any page or here.  

What about THC...what's the difference there? 

How is CBD different from THC?

There are both legal and physiological differences between CBD and THC.

First, THC is still illegal at the Federal level if over .3%.

Some states have moved forward to legalize cannabis with any level of THC but the same classification exists at the Federal level.

CBD is treated as a food supplement currently by the FDA.


This means it is not FDA screened so we have to make sure we deal with reputable brands like IndigoNaturals that post their 3rd party results.

In the body, CBD and THC both interact with the endocannabinoid system but in different ways.

  • CBD tends to interact with the CB2 receptors that are throughout the body.
  •  THC can interact with the CB1 receptors in the brain.


CBD acts like a feedback mechanism when systems are exhausted while THC pumps up endocannbinoid activity in one direct.


The result can be tolerance and rebound.

does cbd build tolerance

Here's the net effect from an objective point of view based on ACTUAL research.

CBD shows incredible promise across a range of health issues


We did a deep dive on how CBD work in the body.

THC has some questions on safety and health and also some benefits.

A quick summary…

Research is showing that CBD:

  • Is not habit-forming (addictive)
  • Is not psychoactive (does not create a high)
  • Has a strong safety profile
  • Can have positive health effects across the body
  • Has not had a noted instance of overdose


Research is showing that THC:

  • Has some health benefits (increased appetite, pain relief, etc)
  • Can be habit-forming
  • Is psychoactive (can create a high)
  • May adversely affect memory and thought process
  • May be tied to mental health issues (cause and effect is still being determined there)
  • May have side effects (anxiety, paranoia, etc)
  • Can be overdosed on


Again, check out the CBD versus THC here.

That's why we focus on CBD Isolate with NO THC.

Other brands can have up to .3% THC.


There's also the allergy issue which you can learn about here.

How does CBD work in the body?


First, a quick visual lay of the land:

CBD benefit chart


Okay...how does CBD work?

In interesting ways!

CBD has been called a tri-phasic substance.

We already mentioned how it bolsters the endocannabinoid system above.

The fascinating research is showing that CBD can have different effects depending on where a given system is in terms of balance.

Take cellular inflammation (key to cancer, autoimmune, and many if not all health issues!)

  • In a period of low stress, the CBD will not reduce inflammation
  • In a period of high stress, CBD will help to reduce inflammation
  • In a cancer or virally-infected cell, CBD will spike inflammation (which leads to cellular death in cancer)


It won't do this to surrounding, healthy cells!

Check out CBD and inflammation here.

Again, the ECS is about balance.

The research is pointing to the fact that CBD boosts our naturally occurring cannabinoids like Anandamide and 2-AG so the system can right the ship!

  • If CBD boosts one pathway, it can have a specific effect.
  • If CBD works on a different cell type of pathway, it can have the opposite effect.


For example, the ECS controls both cell growth and cell death.

Both very important.

But one master!!

CBD is shown to reduce cell proliferation when overexpressed (psoriasis or mast cell activation)

But also...

Boost cell repair and growth when under-expressed (neurogenesis, bone growth after a break).

See CBD and allergies or CBD and BDNF (key to neurogenesis) as examples.

It's actually quite beautiful since all our modern medication is about applying a hammer to a pathway in just one way!

With knock-on effects (called side effects) throughout the connected system.

So..what about safety??

Is CBD safe?

The safety profile is pretty well established by research and very positive.

Most of the research is tested at 300-600 mgs of CBD per dosage.

There are studies up to 1500mg with good safety responses.

Make sure to take CBD at least 4 hours away from medication.  (see can you take CBD with medications).

Check out the CBD safety page here.

What about side effects?

Are there side effects to CBD?

The listed side effects are generally: 

  • Lowered blood pressure (actually a reason many people search out CBD)
  • Lightheadedness (tied to lower blood pressure if too low)
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness (again, #2 reason people seek out CBD)


Check out CBD and Sleep or Can you take CBD in the Middle of the Day

There are reports of other side effects but since research isn't showing these, it's likely due to:

  • Allergic reaction to full-spectrum CBD or hemp oil (especially digestive issues)
  • Poor quality CBD
  • CBD with other contaminants (watch out for China stuff and even Amazon, unfortunately)


We cover the whole question of allergies at our full spectrum CBD versus CBD Isolates.

is cbd different from thc

It's really important to have organically grown CBD in the US with 3rd party testing.

Can you overdose on CBD?

Interestingly, there is not a reported overdose on CBD.

There are reports of people trying up to 1 gram (1000 times 1 mg) of CBD.

We obviously don't recommend this since research is testing between 300-600 mg for pretty serious issues.

The fact that overdose is not reported is pretty remarkable though.

Go slowly at first.

Check out our article on how to take CBD.

What's the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil?

Hemp oil is just more of the raw plant extract.

There are other cannabinoids in there (CBC, CBN, CBG, etc) plus a range of different materials. 

  • Terpenes
  • Flavanoids
  • And more!


Here's the deal. Usually, the level of CBD is VERY low in hemp oil. Almost non-existent.

In our eyes, they're misleading consumers into thinking they'll get the benefits that RESEARCH has shown for CBD.

We enquired with one of the biggest sellers of hemp oil out there.

They couldn't even specify how much CBD was in each capsule.


Check out CBD oil versus hemp oil comparison.

As for the "full-spectrum" or entourage effect, that's just great marketing until research says otherwise.

Learn more about full-spectrum versus CBD isolate here.

There's also a huge difference for people with allergy and histamine issues. Learn more about that here.

does cbd increase histamine

Your brand needs to specify exactly how much CBD is in the bottle!

Otherwise, it's probably bogus. 

What are the benefits of CBD?

Here's an entire article on the list of CBD benefits (growing all the time).

The fact that so many seemingly unrelated issues are impacted by CBD points to what we mentioned above with the ECS system.

It's spread across the body and brain with many key systems under its watch.

Check out the benefits page for more detail.

Is CBD oil legal?

CBD has been deemed a food supplement.

It's similar to vitamins, curcumin, or protein powder in the eyes of the FDA.


The big question was at the Federal level.

With the passage of the Farm bill (eff 1/1/2019), industrial hemp is now legal federally.

This further legitimizes CBD.

Keep in mind that CBD Isolate with NO THC will be the safer bet in certain States that are slow to adopt.

Learn more about CBD legality in all 50 states.

Can CBD get you high?

No. CBD does not have a psychoactive effect in causing a high feeling.

You should not have any impaired feeling.

Make sure to test your actual response to it at a lower dose (say 25-30 mg)

See our article on CBD dose amounts here.

Generally, the only feeling described is that of calm.

Can CBD make you tired?

The #2 reason for CBD use is sleep.

It is not a sedative.

It's not going to knock you out.

In fact, some people get energy or focus from it.

It seems to change depending on where you are in the wake cycle.

For example, some people take it when they get up at the wonderful 4 am slot to get back to sleep.

Others take it late afternoon to avoid feeling drowsy.

Test with yourself and let us know your results below!

Can CBD go bad?

Sure but after quite some time.

The problem is usually not CBD lasting too long.

It's CBD going too fast!

The usual shelf life is around 18 months if stored in a dry, dark, and cool place.


Our IndigoNatural CBD Isolate can last longer than full-spectrum since it has less plant material.

It's more the base oil (MCT from coconut oil for IndigoNaturals) that goes bad after a while and even that has a long shelf-life since it's anti-microbial.

CBD itself is pretty inert.

Check out more at our Does CBD need to be refrigerated page.

Will CBD make you fail a drug test?

This depends on the type you take.

CBD Isolate like ours will not make you fail a drug test.


There's NO THC!

The drug tests look for a metabolite of THC itself found after cannabis use.

They do not screen for CBD.

That's another important reason for CBD Isolate versus full spectrum which can have up to .3% THC.

Check out the CBD and drug test article.

Okay...we covered a lot on what CBD is.

There are always questions we miss so please let us know below.

Our goal is to make you feel totally comfortable with CBD so you can start to get the benefits right away.


Related Research:

CBD Quick start Guide

How does CBD work

Search CBD research

Dre's Story


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Always work with a doctor or naturopath with any supplement!

The information provided here is not intended to treat an illness or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.

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The biggest difference is that we focus on CBD isolate versus CBD full spectrum. You can learn about why this matters in detail (search up top). Basically, 40-60% of the population has histamine issues (goes up as we get older and for women due to progesterone dropping). The side effect profile can be very different between the two for this category of people. Secondly, we try to price our CBD at 2-3 cents before discounts up to 50% so people can actually match what’s in research. There’s a lot of ridiculously expensive CBD out there. We’re happy to help with any specific questions and we love sending research over to people for their needs.


I have tried many different CBD products what makes this one different from the rest?

Dawn D Murray

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