Reading up on CBD medical terminology can be extremely confusing, especially when some of the existing research studies are incomplete or inconclusive. To help you get a grip on CBD terminology and to make it easier to digest the content on this site and elsewhere, we decided to put together this CBD glossary covering all of the most commonly used terms in the CBD space.
Bioavailability describes how quickly and efficiently a specific method of ingestion absorbs a specific substance into the bloodstream, and in what percentage. It is used to compare different methods of taking CBD to see which could be the most effective for different people or situations.
Broad Spectrum CBD oil is similar to Full Spectrum CBD oil but has all of the THC removed. All other naturally occurring cannabinoids and other hemp ingredients are present. Broad Spectrum CBD oil is generally considered less beneficial than Full Spectrum due to the smaller Entourage Effect, but is likely still considerably better than taking CBD alone.
Cannabidiol is the full name for CBD. CBD is a phytocannabinoid, of which there are over 100 in the cannabis and hemp plants. It is the most abundant cannabinoid in hemp specifically, and has been suggested to have a wide variety of therapeutic uses as a health supplement.
While most people know about THC and CBD these days, Cannabigerol or CBG is a lesser known cannabinoid that’s been growing in presence in the public eye. CBG is the chemical parent of both CBD and THC, and is thought to provide health benefits, especially related to glaucoma and inflammation.
The cannabinoid profile refers to the cannabinoids that are present in a specific hemp or cannabis plant, as well as their quantities and ratios. “Full Spectrum”, “Broad Spectrum” and “CBD Isolate” can all be considered cannabinoid profiles, and are generally the most natural although there are others too that are typically made in a laboratory. For example, some CBD brands may decide to add cannabinoids back into CBD isolate to create a unique product with their own ratios of ingredients.
Cannabinoid receptors are found in the human body and represent the way in which cannabinoids interact with the human body via the endocannabinoid system.
CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain and spine. They are thought to help us regulate our sleep, appetite, memory, and to manage pain.
CB2 receptors are found throughout the body and are thought to be part of the body’s immune response and to play a part in reducing and managing inflammation.
CB3 receptors are theorised to exist by many scientists but are as of yet unproven.
Cannabinoids are a term used to refer to the range of diverse chemical compounds that are found in the cannabis or hemp plants in differing amounts and ratios. CBD and THC are both cannabinoids, although there are over 100 more. Most cannabinoids are still a mystery to science, but it is thought that they work together in the ‘Entourage Effect’ to create results greater than the sum of their individual effects.
Cannabis is a plant that is used to harvest marijuana for recreational smoking or for medical use. It is illegal in the United Kingdom due to its high content of THC. This is in contrast to hemp, which is higher in CBD than THC and therefore legal.
To learn more about where cannabis is legal and where it isn’t, take a look at our guide to global CBD legality.
Previously, “concentrates” were only used to refer to highly concentrated forms of marijuana wax that was used for recreational smoking and contained much higher levels of THC than regular marijuana. However, CBD concentrates now also exist, allowing people to vape or smoke highly concentrated forms of CBD. These are generally not full or broad spectrum and therefore not recommended for health purposes. Also commonly known as CBD extract, CBD shatter, CBD dab oil or CBD wax.
CBD isolate is a substance that contains 99%-100% CBD and usually contains zero other cannabinoids, making it the antithesis to full spectrum CBD. It is illegal in the UK to be sold as a food product or health supplement, however it is legal for vaping purposes and a common ingredients of CBD e-liquids.
CBD oil is a term used to generally describe CBD products and tinctures. It can refer to pure, full or broad spectrum CBD oil, or CBD mixed with other oils.
Certificate of Analysis
A Certificate of Analysis is a document that is issued as a part of Quality Assurance. It confirms that all relevant regulations have been followed and therefore is necessary for any regulated product.
Decarboxylation is the process during which cannabinoids are heated up, which activates the cannabinoids allowing them to more freely bind with cannabinoid receptors. This has been found to increase the effectiveness of both THC and CBD, and we discuss it more in our guide to CBD cooking.
This is the human biological system that helps manage functions from immune system and pain management to appetite and emotions. Learn more by reading our post on the endocannabinoid system.
This is the name given to the idea that cannabinoids, when ingested together, work together with synergy and create a result that is greater than the sum of the individual cannabinoids. It is because of the Entourage Effect that it cannabinoids are thought to be more effective when taken in the same amounts and ratios that they are present in the hemp plant as opposed to synthetically being blended together in different ratios.
Flavonoids are plant metabolites that are found in most plants and thought to provide a wide range of health benefits. The flavonoids that are present in cannabis, hemp and full spectrum CBD are thought to be highly beneficial and a big part of the reason behind the Entourage Effect.
Full Spectrum CBD oil is similar to Broad Spectrum CBD oil but still has a small amount of THC present too. All other naturally occurring cannabinoids and other hemp ingredients are also present. Full Spectrum CBD oil is generally considered to be more beneficial than Broad Spectrum due to the increased Entourage Effect caused by THC being included.
Hemp is a type of cannabis that contains very low THC content and very high CBD content.
Hemp oil can refer to CBD oil made from hemp, but it can also refer to hemp seed oil. It is important to check the ingredients before purchasing any hemp oil to ensure you know which it is.
Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil is used for cooking. It is a very healthy way to cook since it is high in healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. However, it contains zero THC and tiny trace amounts of CBD, so it is not to be used in the hope of any health benefits besides good nutrition.
Industrial hemp is a form of hemp that is legal to grow in the EU, and must contain less than 0.2% THC content. All UK legal CBD oils and products likely come from some form of industrial hemp.
‘Organic’ products are grown naturally and free of pesticides, herbicides and other nasty chemicals that can help with the growing process. These chemicals are thought to be highly dangerous to the human body while disrupting any potential health benefits from CBD and other cannabinoids, which means that CBD oil should always be organic.
“Phyto” means “from plants”, so all cannabinoids from hemp or cannabis can also be considered phytocannabinoids.
A psychoactive substance is one that is mild altering or perception changing. THC is psychoactive and this is why it gives people the feeling of being “high”. CBD is not psychoactive and so any CBD oil product with low THC content should not make you feel any different.
Terpenes are plant ingredients that give plants their unique aromas and flavours, and are thought to be the reason behind different cannabis strains and CBD products having such different flavours. Like flavonoids, they are also a crucial part of the entourage effect and come with a lot of potential health benefits.
Also known as THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. As long as THC content in CBD products remains below 0.2%, they will be both legal in the UK and non-psychoactive, but higher amounts can lead to an experience of feeling “high”.