What is CBD? - CBD 101

What is CBD? - CBD 101

With all the information available about Cannabidiol (CBD), it can be difficult to know where to begin. This guide is meant to provide answers to some of the questions asked most frequently by people new to CBD. Each question contains a summarized response, with links to various studies and articles for further reading.

  1. What is CBD?
  2. What is a cannabinoid?
  3. What is the Endocannabinoid System?
  4. Can CBD be used to treat...?
  5. Does CBD interact with medications?
  6. Will CBD get me high?
  7. Is CBD legal?
  8. Can I take CBD with me on an airplane?
  9. Will I fail a drug test if I use CBD?

  1. What is CBD?


Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating phytocannabinoid found most prominently in Cannabis species. It’s structure was first determined in 1963 by Raphael Mechoulam. The mechanisms of action that CBD follow in the body are complex and not yet fully understood. Ongoing research has shown many promising results for the possible medical and therapeutic applications of CBD; however, the only CBD product that has been approved for medical use by the FDA is Epidiolex. The approved use for Epidiolex is to treat patients with refractory epilepsy due to Lennox-Gastaut or Dravet syndrome and it must be obtained with a prescription.


At this time, no other CBD products have been approved for medical and/or therapeutic use by the FDA and any medical questions or concerns should be discussed with your primary care provider.


Here is compound summary from PubChem for further information:  Cannabidiol


  1. What is a cannabinoid?


A cannabinoid is any compound that interacts with the endocannabinoid system found in the bodies of mammals. The name “cannabinoid” comes from the Cannabis Sativa plant, where the first phytocannabinoids were discovered. Cannabinoids can be broken into three categories: endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids.


Endocannabinoids are found and produced naturally within the body.


Phytocannabinoids, like CBD, are found and produced naturally in plants and are sometimes referred to as purified cannabinoids when extracted and isolated from the plant material.


Synthetic cannabinoids are created in a lab to mimic the effects of naturally occurring cannabinoids and are often used for research purposes. 

Further reading on cannabinoids: Cannabinoid pharmacology: the first 66 years


  1. What is the Endocannabinoid System?


The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a complex signaling system discovered in the body in the late 1990s. It includes: 


  • various receptors known as cannabinoid receptors, that can be found throughout the body, including the CB1 and CB2 receptors 
  • endocannabinoids that interact and bind with these receptors
  • proteins and enzymes for the regulation of endocannabinoid levels and action at receptors­­


Our understanding of the Endocannabinoid System is still growing, though there is much we have learned since its discovery. To get a better idea of the importance of the ECS, here are some statements about it from a paper published in 2009 titled, Endocannabinoid System: An overview of its potential in current medical practice:


“The cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1R) is distributed in brain areas associated with motor control, emotional responses, motivated behavior and energy homeostasis. In the periphery, the same receptor is expressed in the adipose tissue, pancreas, liver, GI tract, skeletal muscles, heart and the reproduction system. The CB2R is mainly expressed in the immune system regulating its functions.

The ECS is involved in various pathophysiological conditions in central and peripheral tissues. It is implicated in the hormonal regulation of food intake, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, immune, behavioral, antiproliferative and mammalian reproduction functions.”


Further reading on the Endocannabinoid System:


The Emerging Role of the Endocannabinoid System in Endocrine Regulation and Energy Balance 


Cannabinoid Receptors: Where they are and What They do


The Endocannabinoid System and its Modulation by Phytocannabinoids


The Endocannabinoid System as a Potential Therapeutic Target for Pain Modulation


  1. Can CBD be used to treat…?


Though research has shown evidence of many potential therapeutic and medicinal uses for CBD, Epidiolex is the only CBD product that has been approved by the FDA for medical applications.


Here is a statement directly from the FDA website:


“To date, the agency has not approved a marketing application for cannabis for the treatment of any disease or condition. FDA has, however, approved one cannabis-derived and three cannabis-related drug products. These approved products are only available with a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.


FDA has approved Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of the drug substance CBD for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome in patients 1 years of age and older. It has also approved Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex in patients 1 year of age or older. That means FDA has concluded that this particular drug product is safe and effective for its intended use.”


To read more about what the FDA has to say about CBD, please refer to this page on their website: FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD)


Though more research is needed to determine any other possible safe medical applications of CBD, we have provided links to some of the information available about CBD and other cannabinoids in relation to certain potential therapeutic and medicinal properties:


Non-psychotropic plant cannabinoids: new therapeutic opportunities from an ancient herb



Unique treatment potential of cannabidiol for the prevention of relapse to drug use: preclinical proof of principle



The Phytocannabinoid (-)-Cannabidiol Operates as a Complex, Differential Modulator of Human Hair Growth: Anti-inflammatory Submicromolar versus Hair Growth Inhibitory Micromolar Effects


Alzheimer’s Disease: 

In vivo Evidence for Therapeutic Properties of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Alzheimer's Disease



Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series



Cannabidiol for Pain Treatment: Focus on Pharmacology and Mechanism of Action


Therapeutic potential of cannabis in pain medicine


Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain



The Potential of Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Psychosis and Addiction: Who Benefits Most? A Systematic Review



Neurobiological Interactions Between Stress and the Endocannabinoid System


*Please be aware that Serenital products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


  1. Does CBD interact with medications?


Because of the way CBD is metabolized (broken down in the body) there is a strong potential for CBD to interact with certain medications and/or supplements. For this reason, it is very important to speak with your primary care provider before using CBD, or any other cannabinoid products, if you are taking any medications or supplements.

Further reading on CBD and medication interaction:

Potential Adverse Drug Events and Drug-Drug Interactions with Medical and Consumer Cannabidiol (CBD) Use 


Pharmacology and drug interactions of cannabinoids


Coadministered cannabidiol and clobazam: Preclinical evidence for both pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic interactions


  1. Will CBD get me high?


No, CBD on its own does not produce intoxicating effects. The intoxicating effects of cannabis are caused by the activation of the CB1 receptor in the brain, triggered by THC. CBD does not bind to and activate the CB1 receptor, therefore it does not exhibit the same psychoactive properties as cannabis or THC alone.

Further reading on how CBD is non-intoxicating:

Even High Doses of Oral Cannabidiol Do Not Cause THC-Like Effect in Humans: Comment on Merrick et al. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research 2016;1(1):102-112; DOI: 10.1089/can.2015.0004


An Overview on Medicinal Chemistry of Synthetic and Natural Derivatives of Cannabidiol


  1. Is CBD legal?


Yes, CBD is federally legal to produce, possess, and sell in the United States according to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill).


What is NOT legal; however, is the addition of CBD to food products or the marketing of CBD as a supplement. It is also illegal to market CBD as a treatment method or cure for any medical conditions.


For more information on the legality of CBD, please reference this page on the FDA website: FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD)


  1. Can I take CBD with me on an airplane?


CBD products containing up to 0.3% THC are federally legal and can be brought in carry on and checked bags. It is best to check with the TSA regarding your specific flight and their regulations. It is also important to note that states have the right to regulate CBD individually, and you may want to check ahead of time about the laws in your destination state or any states that you may have layovers in. *There are specific regulations for vaping devices.


Check out the TSA's guidelines for cannabis products: Medical Marijuana


  1. Will I fail a drug test if I use CBD?


It’s unlikely, though it is possible to fail a drug test while using only CBD.

One possible reason that a person might test positive for THC, while using only CBD products, is that there could be a complication with the testing procedure. One 2012 study showed that a certain type of drug analysis was likely to give false positives for THC while CBD was in the system. This complication was observed in tests using trifluoroacetic anhydride (TFAA) as a derivatizing reagent and is not to be expected for all types of testing.


To learn more about this specific testing complication refer to this study: Production of Identical Retention Times and Mass Spectra for Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Following Derivatization with Trifluoracetic Ahnydride with 1,1,1,3,3,3-Hexafluoroisopropanol


Another possible reason that CBD products could cause a person to fail a drug test is that there may be trace amounts of THC in legal CBD products. Trace amounts of THC are not intoxicating; however, they can accumulate in the body over a small window of time and in very rare cases can potentially build up enough to become detectable through drug analysis. Even hemp-derived CBD products can legally have up to 0.3% THC, and unfortunately there are also some mislabeled products on the market that have a THC content above the legal limit.


According to one study, a method has been developed to distinguish between cannabis use and THC exposure from contaminated CBD use. To learn more, refer here: Using measured cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol metabolites in urine to differentiate marijuana use from consumption of commercial cannabidiol products


To be sure that the products you are using do not contain THC, it is important to check for the Certificate of Analysis (COA) of the product in question. If the COA is not readily available on site, then you can request it from the company.​