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Today, it can seem like everyone is talking about CBD oil. Wondering what all the hype is about? What is CBD oil, anyway?

CBD oil has a wide variety of different uses and applications, so it’s talked about a lot for good reason. As medical and recreational marijuana is slowly legalized across the U.S., people have more access to the benefits of CBD oil than ever before.

However, CBD oil isn’t the same as marijuana. There are some crucial differences in the creation and application of CBD oil versus marijuana buds. If you’ve been asking “What is CBD oil?” this guide will help break it down.

Ready to learn more? Keep reading, and you’ll no longer have to ask “What is CBD oil?”


cannabis oil cbd

What is CBD Oil?

In short, CBD oil is an extract from the cannabis plant that contains lots of CBD and minimal THC.

In order to answer “What is CBD oil?” you’ll need to know the difference between CBD and THC. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, and CBD stands for cannabidiol. These are the chemicals most often found in the cannabis plant.

However, these two chemicals are quite different. THC is responsible for the well-known “high” associated with marijuana. CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive at all – it doesn’t get you high.

This has made CBD a desirable product for anyone who wants the benefits of marijuana without the psychoactive effects.

CBD is useful for many things, including treating physical and mental health disorders (more on the uses later). CBD oil allows people who don’t like feeling high to still reap the benefits of cannabis.

History of CBD Oil

How did CBD oil come about, anyway?

Marijuana has been harvested, cultivated, and used for thousands of years. Even before people discovered that they could use it to get high, they were cultivating cannabis for medicinal uses.

However, CBD oil’s origins didn’t come until the 21st Century.

The Stanley Brothers

In 2011, the Stanley brothers in Colorado discovered that CBD might be able to slow the spread of cancerous cells.

The brothers were one of the largest marijuana breeders at the time. This was the first time they realized a high-CBD, low-THC strain might be useful for medical purposes.

They started working on creating a strain with as much CBD and as little THC as possible. This way, the medical benefits could be enjoyed without the THC high.

When they finally came up with a strain so low in THC that it had no psychoactive properties at all. They called the strain “Hippie’s Disappointment.”

Charlotte Figi

Around the same time, the parents of a young girl named Charlotte Figi were looking for a serious medical solution.

Charlotte was 5 years old. Doctors had diagnosed her with a rare type of epilepsy called Dravet’s Syndrome.

Charlotte’s first seizure had happened when she was just 3 months old. That very first seizure was half an hour long, and as she grew older, they only got worse. Before long, she had more than one seizure each day, and they often lasted for hours at a time.

By two years old, she was also showing the signs of autism. Her cognitive abilities declined, and she was aggressive — even violent. Soon, she was also in a wheelchair and unable to eat or speak.

When the diagnosis came, it put a name to the disease but didn’t offer any solutions as to how to treat it. Her parents were at a loss. Her health problems became so bad that at one point she was put in a medically-induced coma.

The Cannabis Solution

Her family searched everywhere they could for something that would help Charlotte. Eventually, her grandfather stumbled upon the stories of parents who had used cannabis to treat disorders in their children.

One of the stories he found was about a young boy who also had Dravet’s Syndrome. Cannabis, for many parents, was a last-ditch effort, and Charlotte’s family was no exception.

But since her health was rapidly declining even with the help of modern medicine, they had nothing left to lose.

When they tried cannabis oil, the results seemed almost miraculous. Charlotte had been having as many as 300 seizures a week. The first week after giving her cannabis, she had none at all.

However, they needed a solution that would work in the longer term, and they weren’t sure that cannabis oil was quite right. Charlotte’s parents contacted the Stanley brothers, who owned a big medical marijuana dispensary, to see if they had any ideas.

Charlotte’s Web

The Stanley brothers offered their low-THC Hippie’s Disappointment strain. It was perfect for treating children who needed the medical benefits of marijuana, not the psychoactive effects.

The strain worked incredibly well to treat Charlotte. It worked so well, in fact, that the brothers renamed it Charlotte’s Web.

Parents who heard Charlotte’s story spread the news of this amazing treatment.

Other parents whose children suffered from debilitating diseases started using CBD to treat their kids too, with amazing success. Suddenly, people who had never had any interest in cannabis were asking, “What is CBD oil?”


As the news spread and customers started seeking out CBD-only strains, CBD oil grew in popularity. Marijuana extracts had already been made – now, it was just a matter of making an extract using a strain that had no THC.

Parents around the world were asking “What is CBD oil?” and using it to treat children with a wide variety of health problems. Marijuana dispensaries realized there was amazing potential in this treatment, and more and more of them started manufacturing CBD oil.

Of course, it wasn’t just children who benefited from CBD. Many adults also started using it to treat ailments ranging from cancer to social anxiety. Even people who hated feeling “high” could now reap the benefits of marijuana.

These public success stories played a huge role in marijuana’s acceptance and legalization in some places. The more CBD oil was used, the more people learned about how the cannabis plant was good for more than getting high.

The Science Behind CBD

Legalization and public acceptance also opened up new opportunities for the study of cannabis and CBD oil. Scientists asking “What is CBD oil?” could now justify doing studies on its medical potential.

The science backed up the anecdotal evidence about using CBD to treat epilepsy in children, as well as many other diseases and disorders in both children and adults.

How CBD Oil Works

Now that you know the answer to “What is CBD oil?” you may be wondering just why it’s such an effective medical treatment.

Although more research is needed to better understand how CBD oil treats different disorders, the basic mechanism that makes it work is the interaction between cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors.

Our body actually produces cannabinoids, which are “read” by our natural CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain and immune system. In the brain, CB1 receptors assist with movement and coordination, pain, memory and thinking, feelings, and appetite.

In the immune system, CB2 receptors help manage inflammation and pain in the body.

Many health issues are associated with the things our cannabinoid receptors are responsible for.

Luckily, CBD can stimulate our body’s natural systems to create more of the cannabinoids we need. Because the cannabinoid system is responsible for so many different things, CBD can treat a wide variety of issues in the brain and body.

Pharmaceutical Development

Currently, CBD oil is mainly available through marijuana dispensaries. However, GW Pharmaceuticals created a CBD oil called Epidiolex that’s specifically for treating rare types of epilepsy.

This oil is now classified as an orphan drug, meaning that it’s legal to use as a medication for certain rare conditions like Dravet’s Syndrome.

As cannabis is legalized, though, more and more people will have access to the benefits of CBD oil without having to go through the pharmaceutical industry.

How CBD Oil is Made

As CBD has grown in popularity, the methods of making it consumable have been refined. Most often, people ask “What is CBD oil?”

However, there are many other ways to take CBD besides oil. People are continually discovering ways to make purer, better CBD extracts.

Typically, a high-CBD, low-THC plant is used to make the extract. However, one of several extraction methods can be used to make CBD oil or other CBD products.


Ethanol can be used to make extracts that are smoked through a vape pen. However, this extraction method is destructive to the plant’s waxes, which might take away some of the medical benefits.


CO2 extraction takes a lot of expensive equipment but is one of the best ways to get a high-quality CBD product. It uses a low temperature and high-pressure carbon dioxide to extract the oil. Because the temperature is low, more of the original qualities of the plant can be preserved.

Olive Oil

Olive oil extraction is one of the cheaper ways to make CBD oil. The only drawback is that the oil that results is perishable, and has to be stored in a dark place away from heat.


Synthetic CBD can also be created in a lab, giving a very pure product. However, synthetic CBD hasn’t been researched as much as its natural counterpart.

Naturally occurring things in the plant, like terpene, aren’t found in synthetic CBD oil. It’s possible that these ingredients play a role in CBD’s medical benefits, but more research is needed to be sure.

Butane and Hexane

Butane and hexane have long been used to extract CBD, but newer methods have all but replaced them. These toxic extraction methods can contaminate the final product, affecting not just the taste but the medical benefits.

Types of CBD

Most people start by asking “What is CBD oil?” However, there are many different ways to take CBD extract besides in the form of oil.


Although it’s not recommended for children, some adults may prefer to take CBD through a vape method. E-liquids and vape oils allow people to take CBD through a vape pen.

These liquids are sold either as one-time-use cartridges or in the form of a bottle for refills. One of the benefits of vaping is that it allows people to feel the effects of the CBD much faster than other methods.


CBD oil remains the most common and popular way to take CBD.

CBD oil can be made using cannabis flowers, but it can also be made using hemp. When asking “What is CBD oil?” it’s important to also consider what it’s made out of.

Hemp already has less THC and more CBD than most cannabis strains. This also allows CBD oil to be made in places where cannabis still isn’t legal.

That said, the greatest health benefits are seen in CBD oil that’s made using actual cannabis flowers, not hemp. It also takes a lot of hemp to make CBD oil, since it doesn’t contain as much CBD as cannabis.

Why Not Hemp?

Why does hemp create a less effective CBD product?

Part of the reason could be that the hemp plant is a bio-accumulator. Bioaccumulation is when a living organism draws toxins from the environment around it.

Hemp stalks draw up toxins from the earth and store them in the plant. Since a lot of hemp is needed to make CBD oil, this means more toxins are likely to be present in CBD oil made from hemp.

Hemp also doesn’t have the many cannabinoids, such as terpenes, that are believed to have added medicinal benefits. The best CBD oil you can get will always be made from cannabis.


Tinctures are extracted using glycerin or alcohol and can be taken in food or drink, or directly on the tongue.

However, tinctures aren’t usually as potent as other forms of CBD, such as oil.


CBD can be infused into lotions, balms, and other topical treatments that are great for treating localized issues.

Topical CBD treatments are ideal for pain that affects a certain area of the body, such as joint pain or arthritis. It’s also an anti-inflammatory that can be great for everything from allergic reactions to acne.

What is CBD Oil – And is it Right for You?

Although you now know how to answer “What is CBD oil?” there are countless more uses and application methods that we haven’t touched on yet.

If you’re struggling with pain or other physical or mental health issues, CBD oil might be the answer. And, since it has little to no side effects, there’s nothing lost by trying it.

Want to learn more about CBD? Now that you know the answer to “What is CBD oil?” we can answer all your remaining questions – check out this post for more.


About Quantum9

Quantum 9, Inc. is a Chicago, IL-based cannabis consulting firm. We specialize in getting high net worth individuals and private equity cannabis business licenses to cultivate, manufacture and dispense marijuana. We have over 50 marijuana consultants that work for the company, and we have practiced in 12 countries. Our areas of expertise include permit acquisition, team building, employee training planning, and process planning. We help clients fully maximize the potential of any cannabis cultivation, processing, and dispensary business.


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