Since CBD became federally legal in 2018, the cannabis compound has been popping up all over the place. It may seem as though everyone, from celebrities to your coworker to your BFF’s grandmother, has at least tried it. But it’s understandable if you’ve been hesitant to get on board. After all, not all trends are worth following. And CBD is derived from cannabis, so you might be pondering questions like, Will it get you high? Will it show up on a drug test? And what the heck is it anyway? Here’s what you need to know.


CBD (cannabidiol), like its cousin THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), is one of more than 100 cannabinoids (chemical compounds) in the cannabis plant. Phytocannabinoids like these are produced in plants (phyto means plant in Latin). But humans and many mammals also generate cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids (endo means body). Yes – we make cannabinoids for our own body to use!


The ECS is an intricate network of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes located throughout the brain and body. One of the body’s most crucial biological systems, it is responsible for regulating neural activity and most physiological systems. It affects functions, including sleep, mood, memory, appetite, reproduction, and pain sensation. You can read more about the ECS here.


CBD and its fellow phytocannabinoids mimic endocannabinoids when they enter the body. With more cannabinoids to work with, the ECS works more effectively.

Different cannabinoids affect the ECS in specific ways. CBD influences mostly the CB2 receptors. These are located primarily in the peripheral nervous system, which includes the immune system.

We still have a lot to learn about the ECS and how CBD works in the body. But we know CBD is particularly effective at supporting certain responses, like pain and inflammation, nausea, seizures, other neurological conditions, migraines, sleep disorders such as insomnia, and mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.



CBD will not get you high. THC is the compound in marijuana that produces a euphoric feeling. While full-spectrum CBD products can contain up to 0.3% THC (the maximum amount federally legal), this is not enough to get you high.


There are several ways to take CBD. You can smoke or vape it using a CBD vape liquid. You can also ingest it via a tincture or oil, either by placing it under or on the tongue or by putting it in a drink or food. Capsules are another easy, convenient way to ingest CBD. Edibles are yet another option. Gummies are especially popular, but there are also brownies, chocolates, and cookies. Or, you can incorporate CBD oil or tinctures into your own recipes. You can apply CBD via a topical balm or salve too.


There is no one-size-fits-all approach to dosing. Your optimal dose will depend on a few factors, including your weight and metabolism, as well as the type and severity of the condition you’re trying to treat. You can find some dosing tips here. But as a rule of thumb, it’s always best to start small and increase your dose gradually as needed.


CBD’s effects and how long it remains in the body can vary from one person to another. There are a few factors that come into play:

  • Metabolism: You know how your thin friend can inhale a large pizza and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every Saturday without gaining a pound? More than likely, they’ve been blessed with a naturally fast metabolism. For such people, CBD will likely be metabolized and excreted more quickly than those of us who seem to take days to lose the excess weight from a slice or two of double-cheese. Likewise, taking CBD on an empty stomach vs. with food, as well as the types of food you’re eating, can affect metabolism and excretion.
  • Frequency of Use: If you take CBD multiple times a day, vs. once a day or a couple of times per week, it will remain in your system for longer.
  • Dosage: Similar to frequency of use, the amount of CBD you take at once will affect how long it stays in your system. Basically, the more you take, the longer traces of it will remain.
  • Administration Method: How you take your CBD can affect metabolism and bioavailability as well. For example, smoking, vaping, or applying a topical salve or balm may take effect immediately. However, ingesting it might take 30 minutes or so with a sublingual tincture or one to two hours for edibles and capsules.

Curious if it will show up on a drug test, and if that matters? The short answer is probably not, on both counts. But you can find more details here.


Not all CBD is created equal, and it’s essential to choose a high-quality product. Start by shopping with a reputable retailer. This means a company that is Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified and has a Certificate of Analysis (COA) indicating their product has been third-party tested.

The best companies also use organic, vegan ingredients, and utilize safe extraction methods (such as a safe solvent or supercritical CO2). Perhaps most importantly, ensure the product contains real CBD, not a synthetic. Check how much CBD is in the product as well. Some producers peddle products that contain only trace amounts of CBD, if any. The label should explicitly say “CBD” or in some cases “hemp extract.” If it only says “hempseed extract” or “hempseed oil,” you’re likely not getting CBD (hemp seeds do not contain any CBD).

Look for products sourced from U.S.A.-grown hemp as well. Hemp is a bioaccumulator, meaning it picks up everything from the soil in which it grows. In the U.S., farmers are required to test soil for contaminants, like pesticides or heavy metals, but this is not the case everywhere.

Some of the industry’s best producers include Bespoke ExtractsCharlotte’s Web CBDCBDistilleryNuLeaf NaturalsForia Wellness, and Purekana.