What is CBD?

Discover the science-backed benefits, uses, and more.

What is CBD?
minute read

Medically Reviewed byDr. Caley Scott, ND

Hemp has remained a plant of intrigue for centuries, admired and utilized for its versatile properties throughout history. From its strong fibers used to make rope, to its wellness properties that have made it a sought-after supplement, the hemp plant has been around, in one shape or another—for generations.

However, it wasn't until recent times that we began to uncover its wellness potential. Enter CBD—a hemp compound that has captivated the world with its numerous wellness benefits.*

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, and it has the potential to provide a variety of mental and physical benefits.

This compound has quickly gained a reputation for soothing feelings of tension, supporting sleep, and helping to ease a wide range of discomforting symptoms.* But despite its growing popularity, CBD remains shrouded in a cloud of misinformation—with misconceptions still being spread. We’re here to set the facts straight for you. 

Is CBD legal?

One of the most common questions about CBD is regarding its legality—and understandably so. The cannabis plant has a checkered past, with legal battles in the United States dating back to the early 1900s

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD derived from hemp plants is currently legal in the United States at the federal level. This legislation defines hemp vs. cannabis plants, with hemp being understood as any Cannabis sativa plant with less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. Cannabis, or marijuana, is considered any Cannabis sativa plant with more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. 

It's also worth noting that some states have stricter legislation that updates frequently, so it's always best to check the laws in your area before purchasing CBD products.

On the other hand, cannabis plants with more than 0.3% THC by dry weight are still illegal at the federal level. However, some states have legalized medical marijuana and/or recreational cannabis, which can include products with higher THC potency (the main psychoactive component in cannabis). Stay up-to-date on these state laws as well; we are just at the beginning of this emerging industry, which means it’s best to expect change. 

What are the benefits of CBD?

Now, onto the good stuff—what are the real benefits of CBD? The use of this compound has been shown to have a wide range of effects—from minimal and meaningful, to extreme and life-changing.*

The following benefits are all thanks to the endocannabinoid system (ECS)—one of the largest networks of receptors in our bodies (and our pets). The ECS is made of CB1 and CB2 receptors that are widely distributed without our bodies, and when these receptors are balanced—so are you.*

Scientists use the term homeostasis to describe the delicate balance our bodies strive to maintain to function at their best. And when it comes to feeling our best—homeostasis and endocannabinoid system function plays a critical role. 

The ECS interacts with endocannabinoids that are naturally produced inside us, as well as phytocannabinoids found in cannabis, like CBD. 

And because of these cannabinoid-receptor interactions, the benefits of CBD may include (but are not limited to): 

  • Soothed feelings of stress*

  • Eased feelings of tension*

  • Minimized discomfort*

  • Maintained emotional wellness*

  • Supported sleep quality*

Overall, the benefits of CBD are best understood as balance and well-being—as if your endocannabinoid system just took a deep breath.* 

How often should you use CBD for the most benefits?

It’s important to remember that CBD should be incorporated into your lifestyle as a routine rather than a one-time fix-all. In fact, research shows that CBD as a daily regimen is a much more effective way to experience benefits.* 

Ideally, like any habit—it’s also best to take your CBD at the same time every day. Keep your CBD product in plain sight so it stays top of mind during your daily routines. 

Pairing a daily hemp supplement with another CBD product, like a topical or nighttime supplement, may also help you maximize your results.

Does CBD cause a high?

If you follow the directed serving size, no—the effects of CBD do not produce a high. CBD is non-intoxicating, meaning you can take it and go about your day without any psychoactive impairments.*

But whether or not CBD is technically a “psychoactive compound” is a different story. What we know about CBD and its interaction with the endocannabinoid system means that CBD can technically alter your state of mind—which is commonly observed as relaxation, calm, clarity, or an overall sense of balance and presence.

Instead of feeling the intense euphoria that is often associated with being "high," the effects of CBD are more subtle and generalized.*

How are CBD isolate, broad spectrum CBD, and full spectrum CBD different?

Understanding each of these can help you choose the right CBD product for your wellness lifestyle.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, containing only cannabidiol (CBD) and no other cannabis compounds. This is achieved by making it synthetically in a lab or through an extensive extraction process. This method removes all the plant-rich compounds, such as terpenes, flavonoids, minor cannabinoids, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

While CBD is the big player here, other plant compounds also hold power in the ECS, which means a CBD isolate product will most likely be your least effective option.Studiesnote that the more plant-rich compounds in a hemp supplement, the higher the synergy—meaning an enhanced entourage effect.

The entourage effect is a theory that broad and full spectrum CBD offer more potent benefits because the blend of cannabis compounds works synergistically to deliver their effects, compared to CBD isolate, which only works alone.

Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad spectrum CBD is a step up from CBD isolate, as it includes all of the beneficial cannabis compounds, such as terpenes, flavonoids, minor cannabinoids, and CBD—without any detectable THC. 

Another positive of broad spectrum is getting to experience the benefits of minor cannabinoids, such as CBG and CBN. 

Broad spectrum CBD is generally the way to go if you want the full benefits of CBD, but don't want any detectable THC in your product.

Full Spectrum CBD

Full spectrum CBD, on the other hand, contains all of the compounds found in the cannabis plant, including THC. While the amount of THC is modest (as mentioned, less than 0.3%), it is still present—which adds to the entourage effect. Full spectrum CBD may be your match if you want the full hemp experience. Choose a product that includes legal amounts of THC and all of the plant-rich benefits. 

How do CBD and THC differ?

CBD and THC are both compounds found in the cannabis plant, but they do have distinct differences in terms of their effects and chemical structures.

THC is a direct agonist of the CB1 and CB2 receptors. When THC binds and activates the CB1 receptors, this leads to the characteristic "high" associated with marijuana use.

CBD, on the other hand, does not bind directly to the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system but instead interacts with them. This lower affinity is responsible for the non-intoxicating wellness effects experienced by its users.* 

What types of CBD products exist?

We've talked enough about what CBD is and how it works; now it’s time to find which type of CBD delivery method will best fit your daily routine. 

Oil Tinctures

Oil tinctures are staples in the world of CBD products. These compact bottles, equipped with a convenient dropper, offer a simple solution to incorporating CBD into your daily routine. Simply place a few drops under your tongue, hold for at least one to three minutes (always follow the instructions, as each product is different), then swallow. 

This method of consumption allows for better absorption into the bloodstream through the tissues under the tongue, making it a popular choice among those seeking the potential benefits of CBD.

Gummies and Chews

Gummies and chews offer a delightful and convenient way to consume CBD. These supplements come in a rainbow of flavors and are an easy-to-take option for incorporating CBD into your daily routine. 

No more boring pills or tinctures, just a burst of flavor with all the wellness benefits of CBD—it’s like having your hemp and eating it too.

Sprays, Creams, and Other Topicals

For individuals seeking a more targeted approach to specific parts of the body, sprays, creams, and other topicals are fantastic options. 

These products are applied directly to the skin, allowing the CBD to be absorbed through the surface to provide localized cooling and soothing effects. This interaction can potentially provide localized relief to specific areas of the body.* But here's the thing—topical CBD doesn't enter the bloodstream, so it doesn't produce the same full-body effects as oils and tinctures.

The onset of effects from topical CBD can vary based on factors such as the amount applied and the area you apply it to. On average, you can expect to feel the effects within minutes. That said, everyone's skin and body type is unique, so it may take longer for some individuals to feel the full effects. The key is to be patient and give the product time to work. If needed, adjust the amount used or frequency of application to find the best results for you.

Water Solubles

Water soluble CBD products have taken the market by storm in recent years. With their ability to dissolve in water, these products offer a versatile and convenient option for incorporating CBD into your daily routine. They are also extremely fast-acting, which means you’ll likely notice the effects much more quickly than a tincture or gummy product.* 

Whether it’s added to your favorite beverage or used in cooking, this form of CBD offers a hassle-free solution for those who want a fast-acting, on-the-go hemp product.

Bath Bombs and Bath Soaks

For those seeking a touch of luxury in their self-care routine—bath bombs and bath soaks are in a league of their own. These products dissolve in warm bath water, allowing you to soak in the potential benefits of CBD. It's like having your own personal spa right in the comfort of your own home.


The marriage of CBD and skincare has produced some truly innovative products, from revitalizing serums to nourishing creams. These products not only aim to improve the appearance of your skin but also offer the topical benefits of CBD. It's a harmonious blend of beauty and wellness, elevating your skincare routine to a whole new level. 

Does CBD cause any side effects?

Making the most out of CBD starts with a conversation with your doctor. Before incorporating it into your routine, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any prescription medications, it's always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional.

CBD has the potential to interact with certain drugs, so consulting your doctor is a key step in determining whether CBD is right for you.

What should you consider when choosing a CBD product?

With so many options on the market, how do you know you're getting the safest, most effective product? Let’s review some key considerations:

Third-Party Tested

When shopping for CBD, always opt for a product with a certificate of authenticity (COA). This certificate is your assurance that the product has passed rigorous third-party testing and meets high standards of purity and potency. An extra step of assurance is when your product has a COA with batch-specific results, meaning every single formula batch is tested, not just one of them. 

A COA helps you trust that you're getting exactly what you paid for—without hidden surprises or contaminants, such as pesticides, solvents, and heavy metals.

Cannabinoid Content

Do you want to fully immerse yourself in the CBD experience and enjoy the full range of benefits? If so, a full spectrum product with THC might be the way to go. 

However, if THC isn't your thing, a broad spectrum product still packs a punch with other cannabinoids—and if you only want CBD, a CBD isolate product could be your perfect starting point. Just keep in mind that CBD lacks all of the cannabis plant’s other beneficial compounds, and won’t provide the potential benefits of the entourage effect

Desired Effects

What's your goal with CBD? A topical solution might be your best bet if you're looking for cooling recovery in a specific area. However, an ingestible product may be the best way to go if you're after an all-encompassing wellness experience.

The Bottom Line

CBD is a true wellness game-changer. With its wide range of potential benefits, it's no wonder why more and more people are turning to CBD to take their health and wellness to the next level. 

Consider upgrading your wellness routine with Sunmed, the gold standard of hemp wellness. With a focus on quality and transparency, Sunmed is dedicated to providing you with the most premium, plant-rich CBD products

We have science-backed and rigorously tested formulas for sleep, relaxation, focus, recovery, and more. 

Discover modern wellness and experience the Sunmed difference today.



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