What is Cannabidiol (CBD)

What is Cannabidiol (CBD)

  • Lee Ware

If you are looking for both a simple and in-depth answer to CBD, you have come to the right place. I struggled to find all the information I wanted when I began my journey with CBD and found it tedious reading through the same introduction and shallow information. 

If you are also new to CBD, read on to know everything about CBD and how it affects the human body.

The Simple Answer

In simple terms, the cannabis plant contains over 400 chemical compounds, around 60 of which fall into the cannabinoid group. Cannabinoids just are chemical compounds that interact with the body's endocannabinoid system (find out more below). The main two cannabinoids in cannabis are THC and CBD. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the main psychoactive component that is responsible for causing euphoria. On the other hand, CBD is safe with no psychoactive properties. Research suggests that hemp CBD oil helps relieve the symptoms of several health issues such as chronic pain, anxiety, inflammation and mental and skin health problems. 

CBD is mined from different sources such as cannabis and industrial hemp. Let's take a quick look at the difference between these two plants.

Hemp and Cannabis 

There is a lot of confusion between hemp and cannabis and the legal status of both, but it simply comes down to name and THC content. Hemp or industrial hemp is the cannabis that contains 0.2% THC or less and can be grown legally under a UK license. Other popular cannabis species are Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis indica and cannabis ruderalis. However, these species contain larger THC content and are illegal in the UK. 

Is CBD oil legal in the UK?

Through extensive research on CBD and its legal status in the UK, I can summarize that:

  • CBD on its own is 100% legal; however, it is not currently legal in the UK to own any part of the cannabis plant except those who have specific licenses. 
  • Anything extracted from the cannabis plant is legal as long as it contains no more than 1mg of THC per packet. There appears to be a misconception that the rule is less than 0.2% THC. However, this is incorrect. 
  • Medical CBD is starting to make some headway in the UK with two drugs containing cannabinoids now authorized for use in the country. Epidiolex is used to treat some rare forms of childhood epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet syndrome.Sativex is being used by patients who have Multiple sclerosis. 


CBD can interact with our body's endocannabinoid system. Discovered in the 1990s, the endocannabinoid system regulates many functions within the body; immune system, appetite, pain response, just to name a few. The endocannabinoid system (or ECS) is made up of receptors, which interact with exogenous cannabinoids, also called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are found naturally in the body, whereas exogenous cannabinoids are obtained from natural sources such as cannabis. The main two endocannabinoids in the body are called 2-AG (2-arachidonoyl-glycerol) and anandamide. These bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the ECS. These receptors are present throughout the body and regulate physiological processes. 

 Anandamide, interestingly, is the chemical responsible for the state of bliss felt when doing yoga, meditating and is responsible for something called runners high (I've never done enough running to experience this). 

These endocannabinoids are produced by the cells' lipid membranes only when they are required and degraded by fatty acid amino acid hydrolyze. Research suggests that CBD can prevent or slow down the degradation of the endocannabinoids to be used up again. 

When you take CBD, it does not directly bind to the CB receptors in the ECS but instead effectively activates them, allowing the endocannabinoids to bind to them more effectively and improving the ECS's ability to regulate the body's functions. The goal of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis, which is your body's natural equilibrium with everything in the body just at the right level. 

Research shows that CBD can also boost the production and uptake of serotonin, the happy hormone of the body. A balanced level of serotonin can help in reducing anxiety and depression and promotes peaceful sleep.

Not only this, but CBD can also reduce the level of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a major inflammatory marker, and its increased level does not allow the body to heal from traumatic events. 

Benefits of CBD oil

CBD can help the endocannabinoid system carry out several important physiological functions in the body, including memory, pain perception, cognitive function, inflammation and much more. Here are a few potential benefits of CBD.

CBD oil for pain

Research shows that CBD doses can reduce pain caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple sclerosis. It is also extensively used by bodybuilders and athletes to reduce pain muscle pain caused by an intense workout. 

CBD oil for inflammation 

study carried out in 2018 proves that CBD can help in reducing inflammation to a body-friendly level and helps the body carry out the essential physiological processes. 

CBD oil for anxiety

 Another study published in 2010 shows that CBD quite helpful in reducing generalized and social anxiety disorder. It can help in boosting the serotonin activity in the body with will eventually reduce anxiety and depression. 

CBD for skin

CBD-rich ointments can help in decreasing inflammatory responses on the skin, including redness, rash, irritation and increased sebum production. 

CBD Glossary

Full Spectrum 

full spectrum CBD contains all the chemical compounds found naturally in cannabis, including a very minute amount of THC, usually below 0.2%. 

Broad Spectrum 

Broad-spectrum CBD has some of the cannabinoids found in natural cannabis remove and, more often than not, is THC free.

CBD Isolates 

CBD isolates contain 99.9% pure CBD.

CBD gummies

CBD gummies are a convenient way to intake CBD as they don't taste like weed. 

CBD Shatter

CBD shatter is a form of isolate in a crystallized form

CBD Jelly

CBD jelly term for CBD hash, made from the powdery resin that forms on the cannabis plant. This resin is then compressed into balls or blocks

CBD Flower

CBD flowers are the 'buds' that grow on the cannabis plant. When we refer to CBD flowers, these are flowers grown from industrial hemp, containing high amounts of CBD and less than 0.2% THC