CBD Guide for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know about CBD

Ellese McKenney
December 10, 2017

CBD Oil: Beginner’s Guide

Cannabidiol, or CBD is a non-psychoactive, naturally occurring compound in cannabis plants which has been steadily gaining a lot of attention due to its many potential health and wellness benefits.  This essential oil is extracted from the hemp and marijuana plants which are both members of the cannabis family. CBD oil has the potential to support the vital communication network responsible for regulating many essential functions throughout your body. 

Although there is a multitude of CBD products available on the market, CBD oil tends to be the most popular product among users. CBD oil is beloved for its easy-to-use formula and high bioavailability. Touted for its many effects on the body and mind, people use CBD oil for a variety of reasons — most often to increase general health and wellbeing.

Because CBD is extracted from cannabis, it is understandable that some have concerns about using a CBD oil. If you are interested in learning more about CBD oil, this beginner’s guide will answer all of your questions. In this guide, we’ll go over the history, dosage, effects, and extraction process of CBD oil. We’ll also cover common confusions like the difference between two cannabis plants (hemp and marijuana), and the effects of CBD versus THC.

The Evolution of Our Understanding of CBD Oil

Cannabis sativa is thought to be one of the earliest crops planted by man, dating back to the beginning of the agricultural revolution (10,000 years). Throughout recorded history, and in many cultures, the cannabis plant has been grown as a source of food (hemp seeds) and textiles.  Humans used hemp fibers for making rope and fabrics, and seeds for nutrition. 

Over time, humans began to understand that different cultivars of cannabis could be specialized for these different purposes. Hemp plants tended to be tall, thin, and lanky, producing seeds. On the other hand, marijuana plants were identified as short, stocky, and flowering. These plants were grown separately and eventually specialized into what we know today as hemp and marijuana, respectively.

Over the next several decades, specifically in the United States, marijuana was bred to become more psychoactive, with cultivators focusing on growing plants rich in THC. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan allocated tens of millions of dollars to prove that marijuana causes brain damage. These studies proved the opposite, marijuana does not cause brain damage. This conclusion prompted the Reagan administration to subsidize a series of studies that led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system.

Today, scientists are interested in the potential benefits of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. The culture around cannabinoids is shifting, and the market for CBD is thought to grow 700% by 2020.

The Purpose and Function of Your Endocannabinoid System

While the study of the endocannabinoid system is still in its infancy, we have come a long way in our understanding. Today, we understand that the endocannabinoid system is a network of receptors and messengers that create the communication system between your body and your brain. It’s like a system of locks and keys.

You have receptors throughout your body (CB1 and CB2), these are the locks. Cannabinoids function as the keys that create a response when the lock is activated. Your body makes two cannabinoids; they are called endocannabinoids because they are created within. Your endocannabinoids are 2- AG and anandamide. Your endocannabinoid system is now known to be responsible for regulating many important biological functions, including:

  • Immune system response
  • Pain regulation and perception
  • Memory and learning
  • Moods and social behavior
  • Circulation and digestion
  • Reproductive functions
  • Metabolism and thermal regulation
  • Stress responses
  • Sleep Regulation
  • Neuroprotection
  • Muscle movement


Ideally, your endocannabinoid system would remain in balance. Unfortunately, under the assault of stress, illness or injury, your body may not produce enough endocannabinoids to fulfill communication requirements. The system becomes unbalanced, communication deteriorates. Some scientists are leaning towards the belief that many diseases and medical condition, are potentially caused by endocannabinoid deficiencies.


How CBD Oil Works in Harmony with Your Endocannabinoid System

CBD oil is an exogenous cannabinoid, that means that it comes from a source outside of your body, the cannabis plant. CBD extracted from the cannabis plant marijuana also contains THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the psychogenic effects of marijuana.

CBD extracted from the cannabis plant hemp only contains trace amounts of THC (<.03 percent), not enough of the cannabinoid to elicit any form of intoxication, thus avoiding the feeling of being “high”. The exogenous cannabinoids of both cannabis plants have the ability to supplement and restore balance to your endocannabinoid system. Some cannabinoids, such as THC, stimulate the endocannabinoid system by binding directly to CB1 or CB2 receptors. CBD, on the other hand, has an indirect effect on the system. An enzyme known as FAAH is responsible for breaking down excess anandamide, a cannabinoid found naturally in the human body. CBD is able to inhibit the enzyme FAAH, which makes it less able to break down anandamide. The exogenous cannabinoids in CBD oil mimic the actions of your naturally occurring cannabinoids, but the effects of exogenous cannabinoids are stronger and longer lasting.

The end result is more anandamide sticks around in neural synapses, lightly activating the endocannabinoid system using the natural compounds found in the human body. Because CBD acts to increase levels of this natural cannabinoid, instead of stimulating the receptors in an “unnatural” or exogenous way, many people believe it can help restore balance to the endocannabinoid system.

Tinctures are a form of CBD oil which is specially designed for oral consumption. Typically, a food-grade oil such as MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil, derived from coconut oil is mixed with the CBD extracted oil and is used as a carrier oil. A carrier oil is used because cannabinoids like CBD are fat-soluble, meaning they dissolve in fat and are stored in fat throughout the body. Consuming CBD with lipids increases the bioavailability of CBD. These tinctures are popular because of their approachable, easy-to-use design where users can simply place drops under the tongue or add the oil to food or beverages to experience the effects.

Preliminary studies show that CBD has the potential to improve many health conditions regulated by the endocannabinoid system. It’s important to note that the evidence supporting the use of CBD to supplement the endocannabinoid system is based on laboratory studies and the testimony of CBD enthusiasts who use hemp-sourced CBD products.

Extracting CBD Oil from the Hemp Plant

CBD oil is extracted from cannabis much like any other plant essence is extracted. The CBD compound can be extracted from either hemp or marijuana plants. Many producers extract from the stalks and stems of hemp plants, an industrial form of cannabis that’s high in CBD, in order to avoid legal problems from using recreational marijuana strains.  While there are several potential extraction methods, there are two that are commonly used. Those methods include:


  • C02 Extraction – involves filtering the plant matter through a series of temperature-controlled chambers under a significant amount of pressure


  • Chemical Extraction – Ethanol, ethyl alcohol, a commonly used food additive and preservative, separates the essential oil from the plant matter.

After extraction, chemists use a technique called chromatography to remove unwanted plant materials from the product. 

CBD oil is also usually decarboxylated before packaging, making the CBD oil more bioavailable. Raw cannabinoids contain a carboxylic acid group, which makes it inactive when consumed in its raw form. That’s why you have to smoke or bake marijuana before using it. The same is true for CBD. In order for CBD oil to be useful when taken orally, it has to be decarboxylated first.

Hemp vs. Marijuana CBD Oil

One common question for beginners is whether the source (hemp plants or marijuana plants) of the CBD makes a difference in terms of its effects. From the perspective of chemistry, the answer is no, because the compound CBD is the same no matter what the source. However, the plant source may affect the profile of terpenoids and other cannabinoids found in extract, so it’s worth doing your research before buying a product. 

The CBD oil found online is typically sourced from industrial hemp, a form of cannabis which is legal to grow in many parts of the world. CBD can also be sourced from marijuana, a cannabis plant typically grown for its psychoactive properties. Marijuana tends to be more strictly regulated than hemp.

The important thing to understand is that the active chemical compound, CBD, is the same no matter where it’s sourced. Regardless of the source, it is crucial to choose a product that is grown from pesticide-free, non-GMO plants. When selecting a CBD product, also ensure that it has been third-party tested. 


Understandably, many people are cautious about dosing CBD oil. Because the product is usually dispensed with a dropper, it can be challenging to find the right dose. In order to find the right dose, you’ll need to understand the strength or potency of your CBD oil product, and the volume of your dropper.

Check the product’s package for an indication in milligrams of how much CBD is present per unit volume. For example, The CBDistillery offers tinctures in 250mg, 500mg, 1000mg, 2500mg, and 5000mg strengths.

One full dropper contains around 1mL of oil, and 1mL contains about 10 drops. Of course, drop size can vary. With a little bit of math, we can calculate that the 1000mg tincture has approximately 66.66mg of CBD in 1 mL, the 500mg tincture has approximately 33.33mg of CBD in 1 mL, and the 250mg tincture has approximately 16.66mg of CBD in 1 mL.

Based on this, you can calculate the amount of CBD in your dose by relating the number of drops per mL and the CBD per mL. To get an idea of the recommended oral dose, it’s a good idea to read the label on the bottle and follow their dosage instructions.

CBD affects everyone differently, which means that dosage is going to be different from person to person. This has to do with genetic differences in our liver enzymes. When using CBD for the first time, it’s important to start low and go slow. This means you should start with a very small dose and wait to see if you feel the effects. You can slowly increase your dose over time until you feel the effects are working well for you. While you cannot overdose on CBD, studies show that more CBD does not actually mean better effects. It’s, therefore, a good idea to find your personal optimal dosage, which may be different from that of other CBD users.

Safety and Quality

CBD oil is a fast-growing industry, and unfortunately, this means there are some unscrupulous companies popping up making false claims about the sources, quality, and purity of their products to try and make a fast buck.

It’s very important to do your research before choosing a source for your CBD oil. You’ll want to make sure the company is transparent about their extraction methods, their sources, and the purity of the product. Make sure to look on a company’s website for 3rd party lab results. If these are not posted and regularly updated, it is recommended that you find a different source of CBD oil and CBD products.

Reviews are also another great source of information, but make sure the company’s reviews look real. If every product is rated 5 stars, or if the reviews all look the same, keep looking. If a company is recommended on a 3rd party website, that’s a good sign.

CBD Oil and Drug Tests

There are various reasons people may be required to take a drug test. Regardless of the reason, it is important to understand how CBD oil may affect the results of a drug test.

Marijuana drug tests are designed to detect a metabolite of THC known as 11-COOH-THC, or “carboxy THC”. This type of drug test will report a “fail” if the person has ingested THC or potentially other cannabinoids with the previous two weeks.

Because some CBD oil products may contain trace amounts of THC, ingesting a CBD oil may result in testing positive for THC. If you are regularly drug tested, it is a much safer bet to use a 99.9% pure product CBD oil which has a far less chance of being detected in a drug test since drug tests do not test for CBD or its metabolites.

Regardless, if you are at all concerned about failing a drug test, it is recommended that you do not consume any cannabis products.


CBD oil is a popular product that many people are using to increase their general health and wellbeing. CBD has a long history of human use, tracing back for millennia. It’s important to note that CBD products are not intended to treat or cure any medical conditions. CBD is not a drug; it is not a medication. CBD is a dietary supplement with the potential to benefit your endocannabinoid system. Anyone with a chronic health condition or taking medication should discuss their intentions with their healthcare provider before adding any dietary supplements. CBD is known to interact with several medications.

We encourage you to learn all you can about your endocannabinoid system and the potential benefits of CBD supplements. Download The Ultimate User Guide to learn more about CBD extraction and the importance of selecting organic, non-GMO CBD supplements. To experience the potential benefits of CBD oil for yourself, visit CBDistillery and explore our selection of quality CBD oil, softgels and topical ointments. Learn more about the potential benefits of CBD oil and what CBD could do for you.



  1. Science Direct. On The Therapeutical Uses and Toxic Effects of Cannabis Indica.

Additional Sources:

  1. History. History of Marijuana.
  2. U.S. News. ((2018, March 1). What is CBD Oil – and Should You Use It?
  3. Marijuana Times. (2016, March 13). The Endocannabinoid System: A History of Endocannabinoids and Cannabis.
  4. Kannaway. Take Advantage of the Entourage Effect with Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil Products.
  5. Medical Jane. Terpenes.









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