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What is CBD? What are the real benefits? Does CBD get you high? Will it show up on a drug test? Here’s everything you need to know about the ingredient that everyone is talking about.

Suddenly, CBD became the buzzy wellness ingredient. Coffee shops sell CBD lattes, cosmetic companies are formulating CBD creams, and most retailers are looking at stocking up CBD products. From your anxious aunt to your millennial co-worker, everyone wants to get their hands on CBD.

Even though millions of people experiment with CBD products, many users are a bit confused… It’s a legal compound but it’s extracted from cannabis, and there is a lot of stigma around this plant. How can you make sure your CBD product is safe? How can you take CBD? We asked our expert Anna Falk, PhD Chemist and Head of Product at Harmony, to answer the questions everyone is asking about CBD.


Let’s start with the basics – what is CBD?

CBD stands for Cannabidiol, a compound belonging to the family of Cannabinoids that occur naturally in the Cannabis plant. It can be used in a wide range of products, like vapes or oils which bring more serenity to a user’s life. Unlike its close relative THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), it’s not intoxicating.


Does CBD get you high?

The answer is: No. There are two main cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant, CBD and THC. While THC is highly psychotropic and can create an elated and euphoric state, CBD, on the contrary, doesn´t cause the same effects. However, every human is unique, be sure to know your individual reaction to any new supplements you consume. When it comes to CBD, it’s advisable to look at the lab-test results since there are products around that contain traces of THC.


Why is CBD derived from hemp?

The Cannabis sativa plant family can be roughly divided into marijuana and hemp. While both contain CBD, hemp contains very low (less than 0.2%) levels of THC compared to marijuana and can be grown legally by farmers in many countries. The majority of industrial hemp is grown to harvest the fibers and seeds. Hemp oil is cold-pressed from the seeds. It is highly nutritious (and delicious!) when used in food or cosmetic products.


What are the benefits of CBD?

The internet is full of people raving about CBD as the solution for a plethora of ailments, but these claims aren’t scientifically backed as cannabis and its research were prohibited for a long time. Due to which no absolute claims can be made about the benefits of CBD.  However, many users have reported that CBD may be able to boost their lifestyle and support their overall well-being.


What’s the best way to take CBD?

There is no best or worst way to take CBD. It all comes down to what you are trying to achieve.

Vaping CBD is a good deliverability method for smokers or vapers. It may have an instant effect but wears off comparably faster than other methods.

Testimonials suggest that CBD oils and edibles deliver the same results as vaping, but take longer to work, though the effects should also last longer.

In topicals like balms, creams or other skincare products, CBD primarily has antioxidant, conditioning and skin-protecting properties that work locally where the product is applied.


What should I look for when shopping for CBD products?

It is easy to get lost in the sea of CBD products that are currently flooding the market. Here are a few tips:

  • Check the label for accurate information on how to use the product, disclaimers, warnings and the manufacturers contact data
  • Make sure the product is third-party tested by scanning the manufacturer’s website or following a QR code on the packaging
  • If the label or manufacturers website contains any medical claims or claims to cure diseases, you should be cautious as this indicates the producer’s lack of compliance to regulations
  • Check for a batch code on the bottle or outer packaging to ensure the manufacturer is following good manufacturing practice and can recall a product if it’s faulty
  • Check the ingredient list to be aware of all potential additives in the product
  • It is best to purchase from a trusted website or at a brick-and-mortar store that carefully vets products before placing them on the shelf. Avoid purchases from street vendors or shady online sources


Is CBD legal?

Yes, but it varies! CBD as such, irrespective of its source, is not listed in the Schedules of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

While not prohibiting their use, some countries in Europe won’t permit selling the products where CBD isolated from Cannabis flowers (instead of leafs, seeds and stems) was used in production. And in general, plant-derived CBD is only permitted if it’s extracted from European hemp varieties. In the USA, hemp is legal on a federal level, however certain states limit or even completely prohibit the commercialization of CBD products.


Can you travel with CBD?

There should be no issues traveling with CBD products within Europe or the United States, as long as the limits on how much liquid can be carried on an airplane are respected. Make sure the CBD products don’t contain any traces of THC. Travel outside of the EU or US becomes tricky and we strongly recommend checking the legislation of your destination country!


Will CBD show up on a drug test?

A drug test should be negative, as long as you only use products that are third-party tested and completely free of THC. However, do check the certificates of analysis of the product you are using! Trace amounts of up to 0.2% THC, as they are often contained in products labeled as “THC free” might cause problems with sensitive drug tests like the ones used for athletes.


Can I give CBD to my dog?

It may be very tempting to give CBD products to pets, especially after reading all the success stories online. Though, there is currently no scientific evidence to support the claims. If you choose to do so, it’s recommended to follow the same guidelines and precautions as when buying products for humans.


What Is The Difference Between Hemp Oil and Hemp Extract?

There is a lot of misuse and mix-ups of the terms out there. Hemp oil or hemp seed oil is cold-pressed from the seeds of the cannabis plant. While being rich in healthy fats and other nutrients, it is virtually free of cannabinoids like CBD and THC. You can identify hemp seed oil in cosmetics in the EU by checking the ingredient list for “Cannabis sativa seed oil”. Hemp extract is a substance derived from a different extraction process not only involving the seeds, but also other parts of the plant. As such, it is high in cannabinoids like CBD, but also terpenes and flavonoids.


What is the difference between CBD Isolate, Broad Spectrum and Full Spectrum?

Hemp extracts can be divided into full-spectrum and broad-spectrum extracts. Full spectrum extracts are the product of the first extraction from the plant, containing the full spectrum of Cannabinoids (hence the name), some terpenes, flavonoids and sometimes even some chlorophyll and other plant matter.

Because full spectrum extracts also contain traces of THC, they are often refined to broad spectrum extracts by a process called distillation. The distillation removes the THC part but leaves the CBD and other minor cannabinoids like CBG intact.

Finally, a broad spectrum extract can be further refined to CBD isolate through a process called crystallization. This removes everything except the pure CBD, a single compound.


How is CBD extracted?

CBD, along with other compounds, is extracted from dried, milled hemp raw material with a solvent. Often, the solvent is either liquid CO2 or an alcohol like ethanol or isopropanol. The product of this extraction process is then further refined (meaning components are removed) to pure CBD.