Every Question You Have About CBD—Answered (2023)

While modern-day CBD might still seem new, CBD has been around for centuries. According to a 2020 article in the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, CBD use was first attested to about 12,000 years ago in Central Asia. Since then, CBD has enjoyed notoriety for its medicinal applications.

Today's CBD comes in a variety of products and uses. Coffee shops sell CBD lattes, spas offer CBD facials, and beauty companies are spiking their products with CBD. And there are CBD gummies as well.

But despite its popularity, information on CBD can be confusing—especially when it comes to figuring out the right way to use it, how to make sure the products you're buying are legit, and what it does. And is it even legal? Here are the answers to the most pressing questions about CBD.

CBD is short for cannabidiol, a naturally-occurring chemical found in the Cannabis sativa plant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cannabis is a genus of plants that contain many different compounds that can have different effects on the body.

Two different cannabis plants are marijuana and hemp. Two of the chemicals in these plants are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Marijuana has higher levels of THC and lower levels of CBD while hemp has higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC.

Unlike THC, which creates a "high" when used, CBD is not psychoactive, according to the CDC. Therein lies the major difference.

So CBD Won't Get Me High?

Nope. While cannabis plants contain hundreds of compounds (called phytocannabinoids), there are two main players: CBD and THC, according to the CDC. "CBD is the non-psychoactive portion of the plant, so what that means is you won't have any effects like euphoria," said Junella Chin, DO, an osteopathic physician and a medical cannabis expert for cannabisMD. "You won't feel sedated or altered in any way."

There are two possible exceptions to this. The first is that, for unknown reasons, some people just react differently to CBD. According to Dr. Chin, about 5% of people say they feel altered after taking CBD. "Usually, they're the same people who have side effects from Advil or Tylenol," said Dr. Chin. You never know how your body will react to any new supplement, so when taking CBD for the first time, do so safely with medical supervision.

It's also crucial to buy third-party-tested CBD for quality assurance. Because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate CBD, it is possible to buy a product that is more or less potent than advertised or even contains small amounts of THC. And while they don't regulate CBD products, the FDA will issue warning letters to companies who violate certain laws, such as those companies producing products containing THC or making false medical claims on their labels.

Read any CBD product testimonials and you'll see that people claim CBD has helped with a slew of health conditions, including back pain, osteoarthritis, and even cancer. But the only CBD medication that is currently FDA-approved is Epidiolex, which was approved for the treatment of certain types of epilepsy.

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"My practice has patients walking in every day asking about CBD," said Houman Danesh, MD, director of integrative pain management for the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. But while there's lots of anecdotal evidence, Dr. Danesh noted that it's still difficult to say what the real benefits are due to a lack of research.

"Right now, you just have pharmacies trying to make some sort of sense out of it and say, 'Yes, it works for this,'" said Dr. Danesh, "but that's not the way medicine is practiced—it should be based on evidence, and there's not a lot of evidence to really support these claims."

And while unbiased research is scant, some studies are showing promise. For example, according to this 2021 observational study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, CBD-rich treatment helps relieve moderate to severe levels of pain, anxiety, and depression, as well as improves overall well-being in people with these symptoms. The study did not show the benefit of CBD in those with mild symptoms.

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Is CBD Worth Trying for Pain Management?

According to Dr. Danesh, there are two main types of pain: musculoskeletal and nerve. "There could be benefits for both conditions," said Dr. Danesh.

The tricky part is that there's some evidence suggesting CBD works best for pain when combined with a little THC, explained Dr. Danesh. "Depending on what type of pain you have, you might be able to do just CBD, but sometimes you need [both] CBD and THC."

Figuring out how much you should take is challenging as well; the dosage that alleviates one person's pain might do very little for someone else. "And until we can study it, it's the wild west," said Dr. Danesh.

So is it worth trying? "I think CBD is a safe thing to try," said Dr. Danesh, but he urged people to push for more research by putting pressure on representatives to get national bills passed that allow scientists to look closer at CBD and the conditions that respond to it.

CBD might be worth trying to help manage symptoms of anxiety. "[CBD] tells your body to calm down and reminds you that you're safe," said Dr. Chin. "It mellows out the nervous system so you're not in a heightened 'fight or flight' response," explained Dr. Chin. For this reason, people with anxiety may find it helps them feel more relaxed.

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Still, one of the biggest misconceptions about CBD is that it's a wonder drug. "A lot of times, people think CBD is a cure-all—and it's not," said Dr. Chin. "You should also have a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and good nutrition. CBD is not going to fix everything."

What's the Best Way To Take CBD?

The best way for you to administer CBD depends on your preference. Some people don't want to ingest anything and therefore prefer a topical CBD cream or ointment. "You can apply it to muscles, joints, and ligaments and still get a nice localized release," said Dr. Chin.

The biggest differences between tinctures, edibles, and vape pens are the speed of delivery and how long the effects last. Vape relief is faster but wears off faster too—usually in about two hours, said Dr. Chin. "Say you woke up in the morning and pulled your back out. You might want to take CBD through a vape pen, which delivers [CBD] in 10 minutes."

"A tincture looks like a little liquid that you put under your tongue, and you feel relief within half an hour," said Dr. Chin. "If you prefer to taste something, you choose an edible, whether it's a capsule, gummy, or baked good."

"There are literally hundreds of CBD brands at this point," said Brandon Beatty, founder and CEO of Bluebird Botanicals and an executive vice president of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping.

What's on the Label?

If it's a dietary supplement, it should have a back panel with an FDA disclaimer and warning section, according to Beatty. "Ideally, it would be preferable to have access to their third-party lab testing results too."

Has It Been Third-Party Tested?

Quality assurance is a real concern in the industry. Make sure your CBD products were tested by a third party to confirm the label's accuracy. A third party is a reputable independent organization that has no ties to the company selling the product.

Take the 2017 Journal of the American Medical Association study, for example. This study tested 84 CBD products and found that 26% contained lower doses of CBD than stated on the bottle.

Look for a quality assurance stamp or certificate of analysis from a third party or check the retailer's website if you don't see it on the product's label. NSF International is one of the leading third-party testing organizations for supplements. If you're not sure your supplement is third-party tested, you can use the search tool on the NSF site for this purpose.

What's the Dosing?

This is a confusing one for many people. "A lot of brands don't do a good job of clearly instructing their consumer on the dosing," said Chris Roth, CEO and co-founder of Highline Wellness.


When thinking about dosing, also consider whether your CBD is full-spectrum or isolate. According to The Center for Advancing Health, full-spectrum could include other cannabinoids like cannabidivarin or cannabigerol. This is important, since "there's something called the 'entourage effect' when all together, they're more effective than any one of them alone," explained Roth.

Isolate, on the other hand, is 100% CBD, according to The Center for Advancing Health. Some people might only need 10 milligrams of full-spectrum CBD, but with isolate, even taking 80 or 100 milligrams might not have the same effect," said Roth.

Does It Claim to Cure Disease?

If the product claims to cure disease, this is a hard pass. "You should avoid any company that makes disease claims," said Beatty. "If [they are making these claims], it means they're either willing to break the rules, or they're not aware of the rules."

Is There a Batch Number?

You know how you check the batch number of raw chicken or bagged lettuce every time there's a recall to make sure the one you bought isn't going to make you sick? You should be able to do that with CBD products too. "This is a huge indicator as to whether they are following good manufacturing practices," said Beatty. "There should be a way to identify this product in case it was improperly made so the company can carry out a recall."

Are There Additional Ingredients in There?

As with any supplement, you want to know everything you're ingesting in addition to CBD. For example, "sometimes I notice that [CBD manufacturers] will add melatonin," said Dr. Chin.

Where Are You Buying It?

You can find CBD products in shopping malls, convenience stores, and even coffee shops in many states. Then there are the plethora of online retailers selling CBD products. When in doubt, natural grocers are a safe brick-and-mortar place to buy CBD, said Beatty. "Typically, they have a vetting process that does some of the legwork for you."

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Is It Legal?

In 2018, President Trump signed a new Farm Bill—the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018—that made it federally legal to grow hemp, according to the FDA. This means that "consumers everywhere if they're compliant with their state, can grow hemp and use hemp products," explained Parrish, "and among those will be CBD."

"Hemp can now be grown freely under federal law, which, of course, is huge," said Parrish. "But while it's legal under federal law, it's up to each state to set their own policy."

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These policies vary widely. In several states, marijuana and CBD are fully legal for both medicinal and recreational purposes. In other states, it's legal in some form, such as just for medicinal purposes. And still, other states permit just CBD oil, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

For more information, the organization Americans for Safe Access has a helpful guide to the specific laws in each state.

"It's kind of ironic," said Parrish. "With marijuana, we have got the federal government saying 'No' and a bunch of states saying 'Yeah, it's OK.' But with hemp, the feds say 'Yeah, it's OK,' but we still have some states saying it's not."

"Flying with CBD should pose no issues now," said Parrish. However, Parrish added that if you're traveling with a tincture, be mindful of TSA limits on how much liquid you can carry on an airplane.

Parrish also noted that you can mail CBD products, just like "companies that comply with the Bill can ship their hemp-derived CBD products anywhere in the US."

Will CBD Show Up on a Drug Test?

CBD should not show up on a drug test as long as you're buying third-party tested CBD with no added THC, said Dr. Chin. But Dr. Chin did point out that athletes, who often are required to take more sensitive drug tests, "could potentially test positive" for trace amounts of THC if they've been using CBD products.

The short answer to CBD use during pregnancy is no because there is so little research on this topic. A 2020 review in Frontiers in Pharmacology states that pregnant individuals are placing their fetuses in danger by using CBD products. Any CBD products have other ingredients that may not be safe to use while pregnant.

It's always wise to err on the side of caution when pregnant or breastfeeding, so forego the CBD until your little one is no longer dependent on you for nourishment.

Can I Give It to My Dog?

Are you tempted to give your pup one of those CBD dog biscuits? "Generally we expect CBD products to be safe, and they could show some benefit for anxiety in pets," said John Faught, DVM, a veterinarian based in Austin, Texas.

But the challenge when considering CBD products for pets is the same as with people: lack of research. "I believe there are good products out there today, but I also don't know how to distinguish them at this time," said Faught.

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CBD is a naturally occurring chemical that may provide benefits for anxiety, depression, and pain. If you use a CBD product, make sure that it was tested for quality assurance since it isn't regulated by the FDA and may be more or less potent than advertised or even contain small amounts of THC.

While we have some research on the benefits of CBD, there still isn't enough research on the subject and there is still much to learn about CBD and the benefits it can offer.


What questions should I ask about CBD? ›

Top 10 Questions people ask about CBD products
  • What is CBD? ...
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  • Are Hemp and Marijuana the same thing? ...
  • Is it CBD safe? ...
  • Will CBD get me high? ...
  • How does CBD work? ...
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6 May 2021

What problems does CBD solve? ›

A prescription form of CBD is used for seizure disorder (epilepsy). CBD is also used for anxiety, pain, a muscle disorder called dystonia, Parkinson disease, Crohn disease, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

What does CBD do immediately? ›

CBD relaxes muscles, relieves pain, and even helps minimize anxiety, so you'll likely feel incredibly relaxed and even tired. Not to worry, though. Most users report that fatigue symptoms dissipate once you pass the 2-3 week mark, but if they don't, try lowering your dose or letting your doctor know.

How long does it take for CBD to take effect in the body? ›

Generally, you can begin to feel the effects of CBD within 15 minutes of vaping or using it sublingually. Edibles and topical products can take as long as an hour or two to kick in.

What does CBD help with the most? ›

CBD is advertised as providing relief for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is also marketed to promote sleep. Part of CBD's popularity is that it purports to be “nonpsychoactive,” and that consumers can reap health benefits from the plant without the high (or the midnight pizza munchies).

Does CBD stop stress? ›

CBD may help instill a sense of calm in people who take it, which may lower stress levels. While the research on CBD is still emerging, research from 2015 and 2020 suggest that CBD may help with symptoms of: anxiety. depression.

Does CBD help with arthritis? ›

Should You Use CBD for Arthritis? Under the guidance of a medical professional, CBD may be helpful in temporarily relieving inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. CBD should not be used as a substitute for disease-modifying treatments or lifestyle modifications recommended by a doctor.

Is CBD good for back pain? ›

Studies suggest it may help relieve inflammation, which is often a factor in chronic back pain. CBD is available in many forms; topical creams and gels have shown promising results for inflammation and neuropathy, which may make them a good option for back and neck pain.

Can I take CBD and drink alcohol? ›

Combining alcohol and CBD may cause drowsiness, impaired coordination and, in rare cases, vomiting, says Theisen. Combining CBD and alcohol could also potentially increase the effects of the alcohol, causing the person to feel drunk or impaired faster, says Theisen.

Does CBD make you lose weight? ›

While there is little evidence that CBD use directly affects metabolism or appetite, it may help with weight control in other ways. “Many people eat more when they're stressed or in pain or exhausted,” says Bissex. “So, if CBD can help to manage those issues, it makes sense that it may help decrease overeating.”

How much CBD should I take at bedtime? ›

What works for some people might not work for others. Most clinical trials on CBD and sleep have involved giving the subjects anywhere between 25 mg to 1,500 mg of CBD per day. It's best to start with a low dosage and gradually increase it until you find something that works for you.

How much CBD is enough relax? ›

A 2019 study investigating CBD for anxiety found that 300 to 600 milligrams reduced anxiety symptoms. However, that study was limited to 57 adult males. "For generalized anxiety or sleep disorders, 25 to 75 milligrams per day is recommended, while for PTSD, 33 to 50 milligrams per day is recommended.

How long after taking CBD oil Can I drink water? ›

Yes, You Can Drink Water After Taking CBD Oil

However, as a general rule, you should be clear to drink water once you wait 60 seconds after taking the CBD oil sublingually (under the tongue).

Is CBD good for anger? ›

CBD has been scientifically proven to effectively manage stress levels. CBD releases pleasure hormones in the body that boost mood and reduce anger. These hormones work effectively to induce feelings of calm. They also help in reducing stress and any underlying anxiety.

Does CBD calm a person? ›

CBD has been shown to decrease anxiety or have no effect on anxiety even at high doses, while THC decreases anxiety at lower doses and increases it at higher doses. Theoretically, it's possible that CBD could make you anxious if there's a high level of THC in it.

Does CBD stop panic attacks? ›

The authors found CBD had anxiolytic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective properties — all of which may be helpful in treating panic attacks (3).

What medications should not be taken with CBD? ›

Because CBD causes drowsiness on its own, it also increases the drowsiness caused by other medications, including antihistamines (such as Benadryl), benzodiazepines (Xanax, Ativan, Valium), antipsychotics, antidepressants and opioids, as well as alcohol and supplements such as kava, melatonin and St. John's Wort.

What type of inflammation does CBD help? ›

Clinical studies have confirmed that CBD reduces the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, inhibits T cell proliferation, induces T cell apoptosis and reduces migration and adhesion of immune cells [66].

Is CBD good for joint pain? ›

Effectiveness of CBD for joint pain

Early research supports the idea that CBD may help with joint pain in some cases, such as joint pain due to inflammatory arthritis. A 2020 study found that CBD has anti-arthritic activity and may help symptoms by targeting the cells that drive inflammation.

How long is CBD detectable in urine? ›

In fact, a 2020 study in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology found people who consumed a single dose of a standardized CBD formulation had detectable levels of CBD in their urine for four to five days after ingestion.

Can you mix CBD and caffeine? ›

For one thing, because CBD is known to be calming and even to make one sleepy, it combines with the caffeine to even you out, even after that third cup. In fact, if you're drinking three cups of coffee, combining them with CBD or even a little weed is highly recommended.

Can CBD be used to lose belly fat? ›

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is the newest way to lose belly fat fast. Unlike other weight loss products on the market that are only focused on suppressing your appetite or increasing your metabolism, CBD can help you lose weight from all over your body.

What CBD helps with energy? ›

CBD may help manage this problem by interacting with the excretion of excess cortisol (8). As a result, the brain can release more dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters affect memory, focus, energy, and motivation. Long story short, yes, CBD can help you focus on the important tasks you encounter each day.

Does CBD increase heart rate? ›

Haemodynamic effects of CBD

In a recent review, Bergamaschi et al. [13] concluded that CBD treatment in humans did not result in changes in blood pressure or heart rate. Thus, the majority of evidence suggests there is no effect of CBD on haemodynamics.

What time of day is best for CBD? ›

There's no perfect time of day to use CBD oil for each individual. Frankly speaking, the ideal time is whenever you feel CBD fits best into your routine. Many people prefer using their CBD product in the morning, taking smaller doses to boost focus and start their day with the natural benefits of cannabidiol.

How long does CBD take to make you sleepy? ›

How Long Does it Take for CBD to Make You Sleepy? If you take CBD oil, a high dose of CBD can make you feel tired in 15–30 minutes. Oral products, such as gummies and capsules, come with a delayed onset, so they can kick in even after 40 minutes to 2 hours.

Should I take CBD morning or night? ›

The short answer? There's no wrong or right time to take CBD. You can take it in the AM without worrying it might make you feel drowsy, or in the PM without any fear of a sleepless night. Because the reasons for trying CBD are unique to each individual, it's not going to throw your routine off course.

Can you take CBD oil before you go to bed? ›

Good news for you: It can also improve sleep. CBD taken at least an hour before bed may improve insomnia and promote a restful night's sleep.

Does CBD oil stain teeth? ›

However, using cannabis can cause teeth to become discolored. Cannabis contains plant tannins, which can stain teeth. Smoke and other ingredients may also help stain teeth, causing them to become brownish or yellow.

What do I need to know before doing CBD? ›

“There are some adverse effects—people can get sleepy with high doses, sometimes it causes GI upset—but other drugs can be much more severe,” she says. It may also cause liver toxicity in very high doses. The biggest safety concern experts have about CBD is how it may interact with other medications.

What do I need to know before buying a CBD? ›

When you shop for CBD, remember:
  • High-quality CBD products are lab tested to verify their safety and purity.
  • Be aware of how many milligrams of CBD are in each serving of the product.
  • Buy USDA organic CBD when possible.
  • Reputable CBD companies sell their products online or in state-licensed dispensaries.
19 Jan 2022

What do I need to know before starting CBD? ›

Before you make your first purchase of CBD, there are a few things you need to know.
  • CBD Can Be Derived From Either Hemp or Marijuana. Let's cover the basics first. ...
  • CBD Is Legal in Most States. ...
  • CBD is Safe. ...
  • CBD Does Have Side Effects.
  • Good CBD Can Be Expensive. ...
  • CBD Has Health Benefits, but It Doesn't Fix Everything.
23 Jun 2020

What you need to know about CBD? ›

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in marijuana.

CBD is not impairing, meaning it does not cause a “high.” CBD can be derived from hemp or from non-hemp plants. Hemp is defined as any part of the cannabis sativa plant with no more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the mind-altering substance in marijuana.

How much CBD should a beginner use? ›

Unless your doctor recommends a specific dose, start by taking 10 to 20 mg a day. Take this for a week to ensure that it is well-tolerated and that you don't experience any unwanted effects or an allergic reaction.

Does CBD affect people differently? ›

But does CBD really have different effects on different people? The short answer is yes. From subtle differences in our body's to the specific amount of CBD a person takes, there are several factors as to why CBD affects people differently.

Does the strength of CBD matter? ›

Strength does matter, and in a few very important ways. First, strength matters from the standpoint of efficacy. The stronger a CBD oil, the higher its potency, the more effects it's going to produce.

Does CBD heal muscles? ›

CBD is a worthwhile muscle recovery supplement, which works by regulating pain signals through the ECS. Here's why many people choose CBD for recovery and relief: Relaxes muscles, which alleviates muscle tension and spasm. Reduces mild inflammation, preventing damage to surrounding healthy muscle.

How does CBD affect anxiety? ›

You might be wondering whether CBD can actually increase your anxiety instead of relieving it. Studies suggest this isn't likely. CBD has been shown to decrease anxiety or have no effect on anxiety even at high doses, while THC decreases anxiety at lower doses and increases it at higher doses.

How does a lot of CBD make you feel? ›

High concentrations of CBD (or taking more than recommended) could cause an uplifting effect. That's not the same thing as a high. What's more, taking high doses of CBD could cause some side effects, including nausea and dizziness. In that case, you may not even experience the “uplifting” effect at all.


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