What Is CBD?

The Difference Between THC and CBD

Check out this short video explaining the difference between THC and CBD from our friends at AsapSCIENCE.


What Is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is just one of several different molecules called cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant. CBD is not an acronym. Cannabidiol has been shortened to CBD simply because it’s customary for cannabinoids to have a three-letter designation, such as THC for tetrahydrocannabinol, CBG for cannabigerol, CBN for cannabinol and so forth. THC is the more famous member of the cannabinoids family. It’s the one that causes a high, and it’s mostly found in marijuana.

What Are Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are active compounds produced by all cannabis plants. They account for most of the health benefits of cannabis. Cannabinoids found in plants are technically called  phytocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids mimic compounds which we call endocannabinoids  that are produced naturally by all mammals.

  • Phytocannabinoids — Cannabinoids produced by plants
  • Endocannabinoids — Cannabinoids produced by the human body

Other cannabinoids found in PCR hemp include cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabigerol (CBG). Cannabichromene (CBC) is the third most common cannabinoid found in cannabis. Like CBD, cannabichromene is non-psychoactive. Cannabigerol (CBG) is produced early on in the hemp’s growth cycle. Both CBD and CBG are believed to have properties similar to those of CBD.

What Do Endocannabinoids Do?

Endocannabinoids, those produced naturally by our bodies, are signaling molecules. They are technically called neurotransmitters. Hormones are a more familiar type of neurotransmitter.

A vast array of neurotransmitters are produced by the nervous system in response to various states of health and also environmental factors. They interact with receptors found on the surface of cells throughout our bodies. Their job is to instruct a cell to adjust its activities. This can include changing how cells react to other neurotransmitters.

In order to illustrate how neurotransmitters work, let’s use an analogy.

The brain doesn’t connect with every cell in your body, just like traffic officers can’t connect directly with every car on the road to be able to instruct individual drivers how to behave in every traffic situation. In order to manage traffic, we implement traffic signals. These include street signs, traffic lights, the lines on the road and so on. Traffic signals inform drivers where they can and cannot travel, when they should stop and when they should go, how fast they are allowed to move and so on.

Some of these signals can sense what’s going on in the environment, such as when a car pulls up to a traffic light. The sensor triggers a controller, causing the light to change, thereby changing the behavior of the drivers approaching that intersection.

In the same way, your body’s nervous system connects to a wide variety of sensors to keep track of every system in your body. The signals from these sensors are decoded by the brain and the nervous system. If it is determined that a system has gone out of balance, the nervous system produces neurotransmitters, which travel through the bloodstream and interact with receptors on cells, instructing them to adjust their behavior.

The Human Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

Now that we understand how neurotransmitters work to adjust our cellular activity, let’s take a look at the role of cannabinoids in particular and their role in maintaining homeostasis  — a state of balance, within the body.

The human endocannabinoid system (ECS) has two components. First is the endocannabinoid receptors found on the surface of cells throughout the body. Second is the endocannabinoids themselves that interact with those receptors.

For example, CBD has very little binding affinity with the endocannabinoid receptors, and yet scientists have observed that its administration leads to increased anandamide levels. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid produced by the body and referred to as the “bliss molecule,” aptly named after ananda, the Sanskrit word for “joy, bliss, or happiness. CBD inhibits the FAAH enzyme responsible for breaking down anandamide in the body. So less FAAH means more anandamide stays in the body for longer, with potentially mood boosting and anxiety reducing effects. This is backed up by research including a small pilot study on subjects with social anxiety that showed CBD could reduce feelings of discomfort and cognitive impairment during a simulated public speaking test.

The endocannabinoid system is vast and far-reaching. It regulates a wide array of bodily functions, from appetite regulation to sleep patterns, moods, metabolism, immune response, the lifespan of cells and much more. This is the reason that CBD seems to effect such a wide range of conditions.

List of common cannabinoids

Below is a list of the most common cannabinoid molecules found in cannabis and some of the effects they are believed to possess.

  • Cannabidiol (CBD) — The second most common cannabinoid produced by the cannabis plant that is non-psychotropic (it doesn’t get you high).
  • Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — The primary psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives users a feeling of euphoria.
  • Cannabichromene (CBC) — This third most common cannabinoid, also non-psychoactive, is thought to have anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant and anti-fungal effects.
  • Cannabinol (CBN) — Believed to act as an appetite stimulant, antibiotic, anti-asthmatic, pain reliever and sedative.
  • Cannabigerol (CBG) — Non-psychoactive and used as an antibiotic, antidepressant and pain reliever.
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCv) — Less psychoactive than THC and known to have neuroprotective properties.
  • Cannabidivarin (CBDv) — Similar to CBD in its effects.
  • Delta(8) THC — Similar to delta(9)-THC, less psychoactive and may have neuroprotective and anti-anxiety properties.
  • THCa and CBDa — Compounds found in raw cannabis that are non-psychotropic and used for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Additional Functions of Cannabinoids

Although cannabinoids are mainly known for the role they play in the human endocannabinoid system, they also function in other ways. For example, cannabinoids are known to have antioxidant effects. Vitamin C is an example of a common antioxidant.

The process of metabolizing food can produce harmful molecules we refer to as free radicals. These molecules can latch onto molecules in our cells, causing oxidation, the same process that causes metals to rust. Free radicals can harm or kill a cell and damage DNA. Antioxidant molecules such as cannabinoids can latch onto free radicals, rendering them harmless.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are a class of volatile hydrocarbon compounds produced by the cannabis plant as well as most other plants. Terpenes readily evaporate at room temperature, and our noses are highly sensitive to them.

Terpenes are recognized as safe for human consumption by the Food and Drug Association and are used in a wide variety of food and cosmetic products.

In nature, terpenes act as both a repellent for pests and as attractants for pollinators and seed spreaders. In cannabis, terpenes are produced in highest concentrations in the plant’s female flowers.

Although terpene molecules are all very similar, each has its own unique scent and flavor. Various combinations of terpenes are responsible for the distinct aromas of cannabis strains.

Terpenes can also have powerful effects on our bodies. In fact, terpenes have been utilized by humans for millennia in a healing modality known as aromatherapy. For example, the scent of citrus is produced primarily by a combination of limonene and pinene, both of which are thought to elevate mood.

Below are some of the most common terpenes along with their reported benefits:

  • Linalool has a floral scent and is prominent in lavender. It is used as a sleep aid as well as a pain reliever, and an anti-inflammatory. It has also been used for psychosis and anxiety.
  • Terpinolene  is produced by oregano, marjoram, cumin, lilac, citrus and conifers. It has been used to help insomnia for hundreds of years. It’s believed to be an anti-biological agent with antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  • Myrcene  is found in plants such as mango, hops, bay leaves, eucalyptus and lemongrass, among others. It is thought to be useful for spasms, insomnia and pain. It’s also believed to have anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Citronellol is produced in geraniums, rose and citrus. You might recognize its odor from its use as a mosquito and moth repellent. It’s thought to have anti-biological, anti-inflammatory and immune-regulating effects.
  • Caryophyllene  is found in basils, cloves and black pepper. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-biological, and antioxidant properties.
  • Pinene is found in pine trees and orange peels. It is thought to have anti-inflammatory effects and has been used for centuries to help asthma.
  • Limonene has a strong citrus odor and bitter taste. It is commonly used for toenail fungus, gastric reflux, depression and anxiety. It’s also believed to have immunostimulant properties.
  • Humulene is found in hops and has an odor reminiscent of beer. It has been used for centuries for anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and appetite suppressant effects.
  • Camphene has an earthy, woodsy aroma. It is a component of camphor oil and ginger oil, which are both thought to provide therapeutic effects.
  • Terpineol  is found in lilacs and other flower blossoms and has a sweet scent. It is thought to produce calming, relaxing effects. It also exhibits antibiotic and antioxidant properties.
  • Phellandrene is produced in a number of herbs and spices. It is responsible for the aroma of peppermint. It is often used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat digestive disorders and systemic fungal infections.

This is just a short list of terpenes. There are many more.

Some terpenes can act as neurotransmitters. They can also act as serotonin uptake inhibitors, enhance norepinephrine activity and increase dopamine activity, all of which are known to produce antidepressant effects.

More importantly, terpenes also act on cannabinoid receptors and are known to modify the effects of cannabinoids.

The Entourage Effect

Although not as potent as cannabinoids in terms of their overall effects, terpenes are valuable medicinal components of cannabis.

The overall effect of the rich combination of cannabinoids and terpenes is known metaphorically as The Entourage Effect. In the case of cannabis, these cannabinoids and terpenes work together to produce a range of effects which is thought to be greater than the sum of its individual components.

More research is needed to determine the exact role that terpenes play in the overall effects of CBD oil, but it seems clear that terpenes work in concert with cannabinoids to produce a richer effect than CBD alone.

As we mentioned earlier, some CBD oil products are actually oil infused with pure CBD. These products do not have the added benefits of terpenes and other cannabinoids and do not produce the entourage effect. They are not recommended.

Research Into CBD’s Therapeutic Benefits

In just over a half century, cannabinoids have gone from obscurity to one of the most researched families of compounds in the world.

The secrets of cannabinoids are vast and they run deep. After many years of study, still very little is known about how cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system as well as other complex organs and systems in our bodies such as the immune system, the nervous system, the endocrine system, the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, the heart, liver, kidneys and the epidermis.

But one thing is certain — CBD does have an effect on all of these complex systems which themselves are not fully understood. Determining the exact mechanisms that are producing CBD’s vast array of effects might take many more decades.

In the meantime, much research is underway, and many studies about CBD’s effects on the human body have already been published.

CBD oil is a natural essential oil which is extracted from the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It is used by people all over the world as a dietary supplement and for a variety of therapeutic purposes.

It has been shown in research studies to be well-tolerated and non-toxic to humans. Depending on the formulation of a product, it may contain other active and beneficial ingredients as well such as hemp seed oil which contains omega fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial compounds.

About the Cannabis Plant

Cannabis is one of a genus of plants known as Cannabaceae. There are two main species of cannabis that are cultivated for human consumption, namely Cannabis indica, and Cannabis sativa.

Sativa plants are taller and produce more fiber and are therefore the species from which hemp cultivation arose. Indica plants are shorter and bushier and less suitable for farming for either industrial purposes or for production of food, but well-suited for producing medical marijuana.

The Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana

Marijuana is high in the psychoactive compound THC, or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound in marijuana that causes a high. Marijuana is rightly considered to be a “drug.” It is cultivated mainly for medicinal and “recreational” purposes. Both indica and sativa strains, as well as hybrids of the two, are used to produce marijuana.

The United States federal government considers marijuana to be a Class I controlled substance. However, many U.S. states have instituted legislation to regulate its cultivation and allow its use as medicine. Some states have also legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Hemp is not marijuana. Although hemp does contain some cannabinoids, it has negligible amounts of THC. In fact, in order to be legally cultivated, industrial hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC. Industrial hemp is grown for food and fibers. It contains relatively small concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes and is not the most desirable source of CBD oil.

While many of the CBD products on the market are produced from industrial hemp, the CBD oil in BeMe Natural products is made from a CBD-rich cannabis sativa strain known as PCR hemp. PCR is short for phytocannabinoid rich — it contains as much as ten times the concentration of CBD as generic industrial hemp and negligible amounts of THC. It does not cause a high, and is therefore not considered a drug.

Types of CBD Oil

Let’s now take a look at some of the variety of types of CBD oil products and compare their qualities:

CBD From PCR Hemp vs. CBD From Marijuana

Essential oils can also be extracted from marijuana the same way they can be extracted from hemp. The essential oils made from marijuana are correctly referred to as cannabis oil. Cannabis oil is only legal in states which allow the cultivation of marijuana. Extracts made from marijuana may contain some CBD, but will also contain enough THC to cause a high. Therefore, cannabis oil is considered to be a controlled substance.

For the purposes of this website, we are only concerned with CBD oil produced from PCR hemp. We are not concerned with THC-containing cannabis oils made from marijuana, nor are we concerned with extracts of industrial hemp which have low levels of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Raw CBD Oil vs. CBD Concentrate

When the essential oils of the hemp plant are first extracted, the resulting product is considered raw hemp extract. This raw extract can be put through a series of filtration and distillation processes to remove unwanted compounds such as waxes and chlorophyll to produce various classes of oils differing in purity and CBD content. These refined oils are referred to as CBD concentrate or CBD distillate.

Full Spectrum CBD Oil

Earlier we mentioned another class of compounds called terpenes. Raw PCR hemp extract contains terpenes as well as other cannabinoid compounds similar to CBD. Because it retains the natural balance of cannabinoids and terpenes found in the original plant, we refer to these products as full spectrum oils.

CBD Isolate

CBD can also be isolated and purified. Pure CBD is known in the industry as CBD isolate. In their pure form, and at room temperature, cannabinoids are solid crystals. Purified cannabinoids are colorless and odorless. CBD isolate can be consumed directly or used as an additive in other preparations such as edibles and beverages; however, it is devoid of the beneficial terpenes and other cannabinoids found naturally in the plant.

CBD-Rich Oil

Another term you may hear is CBD-rich oil. This term is generally used to label a CBD oil which has gone through some initial filtration and distillation steps to remove unwanted compounds such as chlorophyll and waxes. The resulting product has a higher concentration of CBD than the raw extract, hence the term CBD-rich oil.

CBD-Infused Oil

The term CBD-infused can be used to describe either a product which has been infused with purified CBD isolate, or it can refer to a product which has been infused with a CBD-rich, full spectrum concentrate. A properly labeled product will specify which ingredients were used. If the ingredients include “CBD” or “CBD isolate,” then the product is not full spectrum. If the ingredients include “CBD-rich hemp oil (or extract)” or “full spectrum CBD oil,” then obviously you’re getting a full spectrum product. It’s important to know which is in a product because they produce different effects.

Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum CBD Oil

Another product which needs to be discussed is what is known as broad spectrum CBD oilFull spectrum CBD oil, as we mentioned, retains the original concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes found in raw PCR hemp extract. Broad spectrum CBD oil, on the other hand, is made by combining CBD isolate and individual terpenes with an oil base. It is not made with natural CBD-rich extracts. The CBD and terpenes in so-called broad spectrum oils have been stripped of their natural essence. Oftentimes, the terpenes used in these products are not even sourced from cannabis, but rather come from other, less-costly plant sources. Some even use dangerous synthetic cannabinoids and terpenes. Although broad spectrum oils are less expensive to produce, they are generally not sold at a lower price. These products are produced by companies that are far less concerned with the quality and effectiveness of their products than they are with simply maximizing their profits. If you’re going to spend money on CBD oil, get the real thing.

A List of CBD Oil Products

To summarize, there are a variety of products which contain varying levels of CBD as well as other cannabinoids and terpenes.

  • Hemp oil — oil produced from hemp seeds, does not contain CBD.
  • Raw industrial hemp extract — a low-quality source of CBD oil.
  • Raw PCR hemp extract — a high-quality, full spectrum product which is rich in CBD and contains all the naturally occurring compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes.
  • CBD concentrate or distillate — a full spectrum product from which unwanted compounds have been removed.
  • CBD isolate — purified CBD, does not contain other beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids.
  • CBD-rich oil — either full spectrum CBD concentrate or an oil infused with full spectrum CBD concentrate.
  • CBD-infused — generally refers to a product infused with pure CBD, but is also used sometimes to refer to a full spectrum product.
  • Broad spectrum oil — an oil which has been “doped” with CBD isolate and terpenes, or possibly dangerous synthetic compounds.
All BeMe Natural products are made from only the highest quality, organically grown PCR hemp available in the United States. Our Full Spectrum Zero(TM) Hemp Oil is full spectrum – NOT isolate – and always contains ZERO THC!