How does CBD oil work?

April 2, 2019

Cannabinoid oil or CBD oil has been herbal science?s recent feat that has lent a helping hand to the therapeutic line of treatments. After making its way out of the papers as a legal affair for medicinal purposes in December 2018 in U.S.A. & in November 2018 in U.K. (with some terms & conditions of course), CBD oil?s demand in the market has shown a prolific rise. But, the main questions still remain – How does CBD oil work? What makes it different from THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)?

With a deeper insight into what CBD oil is & the other hows, this article will explore these questions apart from covering the necessary details & the basic ones too.


Since CBD is an extract of Cannabis, people often confuse its sister compound with TCH. The reason, as is evident, is the relation & trademark of the Cannabis & Marijuana family CBD bears which leads people to often confuse it with the usual psychoactive impact. Although,the molecular structures of both are identical with 21 Carbon, 30 Hydrogen & 2 oxygen atoms, the difference in atomic arrangement gives us the difference in the impact. Thus, there?s a striking difference between THC & CBD which can be put under as follows:

  1. THC is the most abundant extract of the 104 extracts found in the cannabis & marijuana plants. However, CBD covers about 40% extract & comes second to THC.
  1. ??THC isn?t present in industrial hemp which is the most common form of CBD rich cannabis plant.
  1. THC is psychoactive in nature, i.e. it causes the user to feel high, overpowered & intoxicated, calming down the senses of the user. This in turn causes the user to forget the present state of feelings as they all get subsided under the influence of THC?s psychoactive spell. CBD on the hand is non-psychoactive & doesn?t cause any sort of high or euphoria.
  1. Substance abuse may be developed due to the trance effect when we talk about THC but when it?s CBD, there?s no such risk of dependence or substance abuse.
  1. While CBD binds with the CB2 receptors, THC binds with the CB1 receptors which deal with coordination and movement, pain, emotions, and mood, thinking, appetite, and memories, THC deviates the users from their current state due to the ?high? & hence alleviate pain. On the other hand, CB2 receptors are found in the immune system (inflammation & pain) which makes it act on the source of the problem rather than taking the alternate route like THC.

However, the most important thing to consider here is the form of the plant that is approved & used in modern day CBD derivation. The current norms allow deriving CBD only from industrial hemp which is more of a regulated plant with not more than 0.3% THC content. Thus, the extracts these days contain only limited THC & vast CBD as the sole aim it to extract as much CBD & as less THC as possible.


Based on the method of consumption, CBD oil can be taken in various form. Each method has its own effects based on the time taken for the extract to enter the bloodstream & start with the proceedings while interacting with the CB2 receptors as well as the non-cannabinoid receptors like the vanilloid receptor TRPV-1 & the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A.

The various ways of consumption & the line of action of CBD oil has been described as below:

  1. Inhalation

    The arrival of Vape CBD concentrates has changed the scenario to choose inhalation as the most preferred way for consumption of CBD oil as this method leads to the quickest absorption by the body. The alveoli in the lungs absorb CBD oil in real time & the lungs give it a larger surface area to dissolve. Once it passes through the alveoli, continuous breathing results in its entry to the bloodstream. Thus, the quick absorption & entry into the bloodstream ensures quickest acting time.
  2. Oral & Sublingual Activation

    These two methods are probably the most common methods of dosage for any medication. However, in this case, things turn a bit slow in terms of effectiveness especially when talking about oral consumption.

When taken orally, CBD oil has to go through the formalities in the digestive tract from where it enters the hepatic portal system through the portal vein finally entering the liver. In the liver things get a bit off-track as CBD gets broken down by the enzymes which not only takes time but also reduces the CBD concentration that finally enters the bloodstream. This method, though is the most common one, yet it takes at least 2 hours to work.

Talking about sublingual ingestion, this method is a better one as here, the barricades of digestive system & liver metabolism don?t hinder the absorption by the body. It involves taking CBD oil under the tongue in the form of drops & holding it for a minute or two. The mucus membranes of the mouth absorb it & it travels faster into the bloodstream thus doing a better job than oral ingestion.

  1. Topical Absorption

Applying CBD oil or creams & balms on the skin is what involves topical absorption. In this method, the relief occurs in specific target areas where the application is done as the skin absorbs CBD & from where CBD reacts with the CB2 receptors nearby in that zone. This is a more local friendly method as from here CBD doesn?t enter the bloodstream.

The human skin isn?t very much permeable & the dermal layers block the entry of stuff. For this method to work, the substance applied to the skin must have very high concentration of CBD. the most effective CBD product in this line of application are transdermal CBD patches which, as the name indicates, penetrate the skin & makes skin pores to absorb CBD thus entering the bloodstream. Balms, salves, oil, lotions, etc when applied topically will never enter the bloodstream.

4. Other methods

Other methods of CBD ingestion include rectal ingestion & intravenously. In the former, it is done via suppositories where the rectal blood vessels absorb CBD & circulate it into the bloodstream while in the latter, CBD is introduced to the bloodstream through injections. Both methods ensure quick absorption due to the involvement of mucus membranes as well as the process being direct in terms of introduction. But since they?re used only in case of serious cases, these methods are not very popular among people.


While the way in which CBD acts has been explained, it is equally important to also give a glance on how it feels. Majority people claim that it doesn?t cause any sort of high or euphoric feeling but when we talk about how things feel, the radius expands to many things that depend on other things. There is definitely a change in the way the person feels post consumption which clearly is bound to happen given the fact that it impacts the endocannabinoid system (ECS). In a nutshell, the feeling of having CBD can be summarized as below:


    Once a person or animal experiencing anxiety is dosed with CBD, there have been notable changes observed. Users don?t feel any kind of anxiety symptoms which was a part of their normal life previously. This in turn creates notable difference in the lifestyle of the consumer as they seem more at ease & their working & behaviour changes considerably with just a few doses in either tea or coffee or sublingually or as tablets & so on.

    This is where the catch for CBD?s biggest ability comes. Unlike THC, CBD will make you feel far from high or out. Instead, there have been users who have reported CBD to instil new energy & activeness in them which makes them stay more alert & productive in the course of their day.

    Good sleep is always needed by the body. After a good sleep, the body & the mind are fresh alike & help in a good day overall. Less sleep throws people open to the risk of a bad day. CBD helps people to have better relief as it has an impact on ECS.CBD gets people with insomnia get better sleep without feeling drowsy or influenced. Often, sleeping pills cause hangover which makes people sleep the other day even more. CBD not just improves sleep quality but also gets people away from such ?sleeping pill hangovers?.

Since CBD helps to control nausea, it stabilises appetite & gets people to eat better. More importantly in case of illness or during treatment when people usually turn down food, an escape from nausea definitely helps them with ?bon appetit?.


    Since CBD interacts with how the ECS works & has anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, when CBD oil becomes a part of the body?s mechanism, it minimises pain felt by people. This is especially beneficial to those who deal with chronic pain & has been found very helping in cases like injuries, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, etc.

Even in case of animals, those affected with arthritis & inflammations show mobility with more comfort than when CBD wasn?t given to them.


While there have been speculations that CBD is not all that good only & would have certain side-effects associated with it. But, the studies haven?t really pointed towards any such negative implications & things are actually quite smooth in terms of side-effects. The various side-effects that actually aren?t that serious, are as follows:

  1. Tiredness, Diarrhea & Changes in Weight & Appetite

A review published in the journal Cannabis & Cannabinoid Research documents in 2017 talked about the safety & side effects of CBD. The review discussed the use of CBD within numerous clinical studies out of which, most were related to epilepsy & psychotic disorders. As per the journal?s conclusions, the most common side effects of CBD usage appeared to be tiredness, diarrhea & changes in both weight & appetite.

However, another review published in the journal Current Drug Safety, stated that CBD had no adverse effects upon physiological parameters which included heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, psychological & psychomotor functions.

  1. Liver Drug Metabolism

One possible side effect of CBD to be watchful of is its effect on drug metabolism within the liver. This is especially of importance for those who are on pharmaceutical medications. CBD interacts with drug-metabolising enzymes like cytochrome P450 family. 60% content of all pharmaceutical drugs is metabolised by the CYP3A4 enzyme. As a coincidence blessed by nature, this enzyme is responsible for the metabolism of CBD as well.

Certain pharmaceutical drugs inhibit this enzyme which may slow the breakdown of CBD & increase its physiological activity. Apart from this, other pharmaceuticals raise the levels of this enzyme resulting in a faster than normal breakdown of CBD. If one takes pharmaceutical drugs, he/she should consult a physician before taking the dose of CBD. But on the contrary of this side-effect, CBD also has a positive impact on liver enzymes like enhancing levels of enzyme CYP1A1, which is capable of breaking down cancer-causing substances like benzopyrene.

  1. Pregnancy

A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) cautioned pregnant women & nursing mothers to avoid CBD use due to possible adverse developmental effects to the foetus. In a study it was found that short-term exposure to CBD increased the permeability of the placental barrier, thus placing foetus at risk from certain substances.

  1. Dry Mouth

CBD oil decreases saliva secretion. The salivary glands are home to the cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system . CBD interacts with these receptors & hence causes inhibition of saliva secretion due to which the mouth dries up. This can be easily remedied with a glass of water or juice.

  1. Movement disorders

As per a 2009 publication within the International Journal of Neuroscience documents, a study was done where CBD was given to patients with dystonic movement disorders. For 6 weeks, oral doses of the cannabinoid between 100?600 mg per day were given to prospects along with standard medications.

Though there were improvements in movement disorders in all patients, yet, certain side effects were observed such as hypotension (low blood pressure), dry mouth, psychomotor slowing, lightheadedness, & sedation. With doses over 300 mg per day, hypokinesia & resting tremor rose up. This drew researchers to the conclusion that CBD has Parkinsonism-aggravating effects in humans.


With a good idea on CBD oil, its forms, benefits & usage, it is actually quintessential to have a fair idea on how to choose the right CBD oil which doesn?t just claim to be pure but also is. This can be done in a number of ways as below:

  • Ordering only the organic one: CBD oil is best when used in organic form. Thus, buying the organic one is important as the duplicate ones may contain pesticides, fungicides or solvents which in turn will not just reduce its effects, but will react negatively as well with the body system.
  • Don?t save: When it comes to quality, it mostly comes with a bit more dollars being put. Hence, it is very simple to understand that the quality & purity depends upon the cost. So, ?price shopping? isn?t at all advised especially when it is for a cure that we are talking. It should be ensured that CBD oil is free of additives & has a good amount of CBD.
  • Knowing the reality: An active consumer?s right is to know about the quality of the product. Asking for a lab analysis of the amount of CBD in the product isn?t wrong by any means but a very brave & appreciable move. Many CBD oils claim high CBD content but in reality, lie to the end consumer. The manufacturer should provide a certificate of analysis when asked for & this can make things sure for you. Also, unless the physician prescribes, one should ensure that there is no or little THC in the product.
  • CBD as a tincture: When buying for pets, it is advisable to buy CBD in tincture form so that it can be given easily to the pets as drops. This ensures proper counting of the quantity drop by drop based on the needs & requirements.


CBD brings with it a lot of benefits with its various ways of working. One thing which is good about it is the fact that it works whether it is applied topically or inhaled or taken orally plus it works for humans & animals alike. The variety on the ways of consumption makes it user friendly. Based on the line of treatment & the physician?s advice, one form of the various forms of its availability can be chosen & proceeded with. Any sort of CBD product is great for anyone & everyone with high anxiety or unstable thoughts. It provides physical relief apart from providing mental relief by promoting relaxation & resulting in sleep cycles. Not just in normal life, but also during emotional or physical pain recovery, sleep is very important. The more sleep one gets, the better the person feels. Also, a neck injury might make it tough to have a good night sleep & CBD cream or oil might help. The way CBD works on the body is absolutely wonderful & it has proven its worth as a beneficial medicine for living beings.investing in CBD oil products for ailments is hence a good option.

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