What is CBD?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a natural compound found in cannabis plants, including hemp and marijuana. It is known for its potential therapeutic effects, such as promoting relaxation, reducing anxiety, alleviating pain, and supporting overall wellness. Discover more about CBD, its benefits, and uses.

What Exactly is CBD?

First discovered in 1940, cannabidiol (CBD) is one of 113 unique phytocannabinoids naturally produced by the cannabis plant. CBD can be extracted from both marijuana and industrial hemp and is known for its non-psychoactive properties.

The Growing Popularity of CBD

CBD’s presence in everyday products has skyrocketed. From moisturizers and coffee to makeup and wellness supplements, CBD is becoming a household name. In 2020, the global CBD market size was estimated at nearly 2.8 billion USD, and it continued to grow, reaching approximately 3.5 billion in 2021. Its popularity is evident in magazines, TV, supermarkets, and health food stores worldwide.

What are the Chemical Properties of CBD?

CBD’s molecular formula is C21H30O2, consisting of 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms, with a molecular weight of 314.5. Common synonyms for CBD include Cannabidiol, (-)-Cannabidiol, and (-)-trans-Cannabidiol. CBD makes up to 40% of cannabis and hemp extracts and interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, potentially offering various therapeutic benefits.

Phytocannabinoids: Nature’s Unique Compounds

Phytocannabinoids are plant-derived molecules produced by the cannabis plant’s trichomes. These compounds, including CBD and THC, can dissolve in fats or lipids, making them often sold as extracts in various oils. Phytocannabinoids bind to receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, leading to various physiological effects.

Why Do Cannabis Plants Produce Cannabinoids?

Cannabis plants produce cannabinoids not for human use but as a survival mechanism. These compounds help protect the plant from environmental stressors like UV radiation and natural predators like insects. For instance, CBG-A and THC-A have insecticidal properties, highlighting the plant’s evolutionary adaptations.

Common Phytocannabinoids in Cannabis

The most prevalent phytocannabinoids include THC-acid (THCA), CBD-acid (CBDA), Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), Cannabichromene (CBC), Cannabichromenolic acid (CBCA), Cannabichromevarin (CBCV), Cannabichromevarinolic acid (CBCVA), Cannabidivarin (CBDV), Cannabidivarinolic acid (CBDVA), and Cannabinol (CBN).

How is CBD Produced?

CBD can be synthesized both naturally in plants and in laboratories. In plants, it is produced through enzymatic reactions involving enzymes like cannabidiolic acid synthase. In labs, pharmaceutical companies are exploring synthetic production of CBD, ensuring a high-quality and consistent product.

Extraction Methods for CBD

1. Ethanol Solvent Extraction: This budget-friendly method uses solvents like propane, butane, ethanol, or isopropyl to dissolve plant materials and extract cannabinoids, resulting in a CBD-rich product.

2. CO2 Extraction: Considered superior due to its ability to produce a potent, chlorophyll-free product, CO2 extraction uses a closed-loop system with pressurized CO2 to extract cannabinoids from plant material.

Full-Spectrum vs. Broad-Spectrum CBD

Full-Spectrum CBD: Contains all active compounds found in the cannabis plant, including terpenes and cannabinoids, offering a synergistic “entourage effect.”

Broad-Spectrum CBD: Similar to full-spectrum but without THC, making it suitable for those with legal, medical, or workplace restrictions against THC.

Methods of Consuming CBD

CBD can be consumed in various ways, including topicals (creams, ointments), vape products (vaporizers, vape pens), edibles (infused snacks, drinks), and smokable forms (as part of a tobacco blend or CBD-rich dried hemp).

The Legal Landscape of CBD

The legality of CBD varies by state despite the federal 2018 Farm Bill. Consumers must stay informed about local regulations to ensure compliance with state laws.

Is CBD Addictive?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), CBD does not exhibit abuse potential and is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.


Cannabigerol (CBG), first isolated in 1964, is a precursor cannabinoid from which CBD and others are derived. Enzymes convert CBGA into CBDA, CBCA, and THCA, illustrating the complex biosynthetic pathways within the cannabis plant.