Where does CBD come from? Will it get you high? Benefits: is this stuff snake oil? What about how it might affect you? Read on, we have answers for you.


CBD is one of over 400 chemical compounds found in cannabis plants. Of these compounds, around 70 are referred to as cannabinoids, one being CBD.

This special cannabinoid is naively known for two primary reasons:

  1. Occurring in Cannabis.
  2. Being the ‘other’* compound occurring in Cannabis.

Whilst not incorrect, there is much, much more to this special substance.

* Other – THC

Cannabis plant

Cannabis plant leaf – Photo by Esteban Lopez on Unsplash

Where does CBD come from?

CBD comes from the growing of the cannabis plant. Once mature, the whole plant is harvested and ultimately processed.

The two main types of CBD products available are:

  1. Flower
  2. Extract

CBD flower is simply the dried and cured flowers found on the cannabis plant. CBD strains are sometimes referred to or grouped with industrial hemp but more often are purpose cultivated and can contain up to 40% CBD.

CBD flower contains low percentages of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol -> intoxicating cannabinoid).

Human consumption of CBD flower is done typically by smoking in a joint (cannabis version of cigarette) or water pipe, or drinking of tea, broths and other liquid remedies.

CBD extract is the oily or powdery substance used to create CBD products after processing.

Flowers, leaves and stems of the plant are broken down mechanically, the main constituents are solids, water-based components and oils.

The oils are separated from the rest of the plant material and packaged for use. These oils contain most of the plant compounds: cannabinoids, flavinoids, terpenes, etc.

There are two types of oils, differentiated by their THC concentration (both contain a wide range of compounds):

  • Broad spectrum oil (main constituent is CBD, THC is less than 0.3%)
  • Full spectrum oil (main constituent is CBD, THC is 0.3% or more)

CBD isolate is the further removal of just the CBD compound from the oils. What is removed is a tacky, white powder that is soluble in lipids (fats and oils).

Consumption of CBD extract is through various methods ranging from  administering sublingually (under the tongue) or ingested. Various vapes and inhalers, edibles containing CBD in numerous guises from from salad dressing to confectionery.

‘Budding’ cannabis flower – Photo by Esteban Lopez on Unsplash

Will CBD get you high?

Straight answer: No.

In South Africa CBD products adhere to a maximum THC concentration of 0.001%. That’s 300 times less than international standards (0.3%).

What are the benefits of CBD?

The primary benefits of CBD are reduction in generalized anxiety, improved and more restful sleep, management and reduction of causes of and symptoms of pain from various originating factors.

How does CBD affect you?

The human brain is composed of billions of individual cells called neurons. These neurons communicate with one another through structures called synapses. Synapses are made up of a transmitter and a receptor –  When a synapse is off, or inactive, no communication occurs between the transmitter side and the receptor side much like your light switch at home.

Synapse

Synapse showing receptors

When a synapse is on, or active, the transmitter (sending) side releases molecules that travel across the synaptic space to be absorbed by the receptor (receiving). These actions cause an effect somewhere else in your body or brain. CBD interacts with your brain in a similar way…

When introduced into your bloodstream, CBD molecules activate specific groups of receptors:

  • CB1 and CB2
  • Adenosine
  • Serotonin
  • Vanilloid

These receptors influence such body functions as appetite, pain sensation, mood, memory, and anxiety and have a great deal to do with the effects that CBD offers. Serotonin for instance has long been associated with feelings of well-being and happiness.

Patients benefiting from the long term use of CBD often refer to a state of calm and clarity.