What Is Cannabidiol?

What is Cannabidiol? 

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of 113 known cannabinoids— chemical compounds— present in cannabis plants. Cannabidiol is one of the best-known cannabinoids, second only to THC. 

Chemically speaking, Cannabidiol and THC aren’t all that different. 

The real differences between cannabidiol and THC are their effects on users. While THC cannabis is famous for THC and it’s euphoric and intoxicating effects, cannabidiol is non-psychoactive. 

That means consuming cannabidiol by itself won’t get you high. This lack of intoxication has even led the World Health Organization to state, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential….” 

How Does Cannabidiol Work? 

Cannabidiol interacts with our bodies in a number of ways— the main being its effect on our endocannabinoid system— a biological system that itself deserves pages and pages of explanation. But for now, we’ll keep it to a minimum.

Essentially, the endocannabinoid system is a network of receptors that helps us regulate: 

  • Sleep 
  • Mood
  • Stress
  • General appetite and metabolism
  • Memory and learning
  • Inflammation

Cannabidiol and other phytocannabinoids (of the plant) both mimic and preserve the endocannabinoids (internal) that our bodies naturally produce. Some believe that consuming phytocannabinoids can actually help a user’s entire endocannabinoid system run more efficiently. 

There is still plenty of research to be conducted on the endocannabinoid system as well as on the phytocannabinoids themselves. But early returns suggest that Cannabidiol can help with pain management, nausea, and other symptoms related to inflammation. 

What are the Best Ways to Consume Cannabidiol?

Because of cannabidiol’s legal status and general flexibility, it’s showing up in just about every product one can imagine— bath scrubs, pet treats, topicals, and more. 

While some consumers prefer these relatively new methods, others have found good ol’ inhalation to be the most effective. 

When cannabidiol is smoked or vaped, it and other cannabinoids present, are sent to your lungs and quickly absorbed into the bloodstream; it reaches peak concentration in your bloodstream after just three minutes. 

Read more about the pros and cons of smoking CBD here. 

What Does Cannabidiol do to THC?

Cannabidiol can actually affect the uptake of THC and can diminish some of the unwanted effects— paranoia and ‘the munchies’ brought on by too much.

While studies into what we call the “entourage effect,” the effects brought on by use of whole-plant cannabis, are still in their infancy, the horizon of cannabinoid research is broad and exciting for sure.

What Happens to Cannabidiol Once You’re Done With It? 

Like THC, cannabidiol is an external cannabinoid and must also make its exit the same way.

At the end of it’s journey, cannabidiol makes its way to your liver where it is metabolized and broken down into metabolites that are then expelled via excrement, urine, and even in your hair.

Curious to learn more? Check out our post “How To Read A Certificate of Analysis (COA)”


Updated July 27, 2021


  1. “Cannabidiol (CBD) Pre-Review Report.” Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, World Health Organization, 10 Nov. 2017,
  2. Raypole, Crystal. “A Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System.” Healthline.com, Red Ventures Company, 17 May 2019,
  3. Millar, Sophie A., et al. “A Systematic Review on the Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol in Humans.” Frontiers in Pharmacology, Frontiers Media SA, Nov. 2018. Crossref, doi:10.3389/fphar2018.01365
  4. Photos courtesy of Wikimedia user Cacycle