CBD Terms You Should Know

From cannabis sativa and the endocannabinoid system to full-spectrum hemp oil, there are a lot of CBD terms that you might not be familiar with. 

If you’re buying CBD products for the first time, it’s important to know what these things mean, so let’s take a look.

What Do I Need To Know Before Using CBD?

You don’t need to memorize an entire glossary before you take CBD products for the first time. The expertise can come later when you’ve decided that CBD is right for you and you’re investing more time and money in the compound.

To begin with, you just need the basics, including the following:

Broad and Full-Spectrum CBD

If you see something labeled as “full-spectrum CBD”, it means it contains a whole range of chemical compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant. These include cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. It also includes traces of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for the “high” that people feel when they smoke cannabis.

Broad-spectrum CBD products also contain a wide range of chemical compounds, but they generally contain non-detectable amounts of THC (also commonly referred to as THC-free).

There isn’t enough THC in full-spectrum CBD oil to produce effects, but there is definitely enough to appear on a drug test, and so broad-spectrum products are better suited to users who are frequently drug tested.


A cannabinoid is a chemical compound that acts on the endocannabinoid system. These compounds include cannabidiol or “CBD” and tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC”.

CBD Isolate

If you don’t want all those additional chemical compounds found in full and broad-spectrum products, look for CBD isolate, instead.

As the name suggests, CBD isolate is a CBD product that has been isolated to contain only cannabidiol.


Edibles are consumables infused with CBD oil and other CBD extracts. The most popular are CBD gummies, made using sugar, flavorings, CBD oil, and a gelling agent.

CBD is also added to chocolate, hard candies, butter, and a host of other edibles. 

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Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system or “ECS” is a system that helps to maintain balance in the body.

There are cannabinoid receptors throughout the body and these play many different roles. It’s believed that the effectiveness of cannabis lies in the way that its phytocannabinoids mimic the body’s own endocannabinoids.

Entourage Effect

Aristotle said that the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. He wasn’t talking about cannabis, but it’s a phrase that perfectly describes the entourage effect.

Simply put, it’s the idea that a full-spectrum oil is more effective than an isolate because it contains diverse chemical compounds that work together synergistically.

Extraction Process

The extraction process refers to how companies extract cannabinoids from the cannabis plant.

The method they use can affect the quality of the end product.

The most common methods include ethanol extraction and CO2 extraction.

Ethanol extraction involves the use of high-grade alcohol to remove all of the active compounds from the cannabis plant. The alcohol is then removed to leave only the extracted compounds.

CO2 extractions use pressure to change carbon dioxide levels and cleanly extract the cannabinoids.


A cannabis strain indicates the genealogy of a cannabis plant. These plants are bred to produce specific levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, with many CBD cannabis strains focusing on high levels of CBD and less than 0.3% THC.

The strain of cannabis plant from which your CBD product is obtained will impact everything from the CBD content to the flavor and fragrance.


Terpenes are natural compounds found in all cannabis plants to varying degrees. There are many different terpenes out there and they all have unique flavors and fragrances.

Terpenes are also found in other plants and are responsible for their unique characteristics. For instance, linalool is found in lavender and imparts its aromatic properties. If you smell flowers taken from a cannabis plant with high levels of linalool, you may detect a distinctive lavender fragrance.

Other terpenes include limonene, which has a fresh lemon fragrance, and pinene, which has a sour pine fragrance.

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Other CBD Terms You Should Know

In addition to all of the above, there are a few other terms you should know:

  • Bioavailability: The ease at which a drug is absorbed into the body. 
  • Cannabis Sativa: The plant from which both hemp and marijuana are produced. It has been farmed by humans for thousands of years.
  • Carrier Oil: CBD oils use a carrier oil, such as olive oil or MCT oil. The CBD is dissolved into this oil and it aids with absorption. Carrier oils vary from product to product.
  • Certificate of Analysis: A report provided by an accredited laboratory that outlines the concentration of cannabinoids in a product.
  • Farm Bill: A bill that passed in 2018 and legalized CBD at a federal level.
  • FDA: You’ll often see producers and retailers mention the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This agency is the one tasked with regulating products derived from the hemp plant. To date, the FDA has only licensed one CBD product, Epidiolex.
  • Hemp: CBD and hemp are legal under federal law, but cannabis is not. The distinction is made based on the THC content. If it’s less than 0.3%, it’s hemp and it’s legal.
  • Hemp-Derived CBD Products: A CBD extract derived from legal hemp plants and not from marijuana.
  • Hemp Seed Oil: An extract made from hemp seeds that contains many fatty acids and is often marketed for its nutritional benefits.
  • Industrial Hemp: Industrial hemp is hemp that has been grown for industrial use, such as biofuel and textiles. It also includes CBD.
  • Psychoactive Properties: The term “psychoactive” has been used in reference to CBD, but in reality, its use is limited to mind-altering recreational substances and that doesn’t include CBD.
  • Topical: A product designed to be applied to the skin, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream.

What Questions Should I Ask About CBD Oil?

There are a few questions you should ask yourself and your supplier.

Firstly, do you need full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate? Your answer will largely depend on whether you are drug tested or not, but you may also have a preference for something that does or does not include additional terpenes and cannabinoids.

The method of ingestion comes next. Should you invest in CBD oils or are you better suited to edibles and smokables?

Once you’ve answered those questions, it’s time to check on extraction methods, carrier oils, and sourcing, making sure that you only deal with the most reputable companies and the very best CBD products.

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