Does CBD Work Without THC? What You Need to Know
When you’re new to the world of CBD, it can be confusing to sort out all the terminology, products, and health effects. Terpenes, flavonoids, cannabinoids…what does it all mean?
If you’ve been on the fence about trying CBD because of THC concerns, we’ve got good news—THC isn’t necessary for CBD products to work. But how does CBD work without THC? To help you understand, we’ve put together this guide to answer all your questions about CBD without THC and whether it may be right for you.
CBD vs. THC: What Is the Difference?
CBD and THC are closely connected and often confused. To start, let’s dig into some basic CBD science to break down the similarities and differences:
- CBD and THC are both cannabinoids – Cannabinoids are a type of molecule that’s found in certain plants, like the hemp plant. THC and CBD are both examples of a cannabinoid, but they each cause different effects on the body. There are also hundreds of other cannabinoids, which are still being identified and studied for possible medical benefits.
- THC has psychoactive effects – THC is the molecule in marijuana that produces the sensation of being “high.” CBD is a completely different molecule and does not have an intoxicating effect on the body’s neurotransmitters. Instead, it may help to support full-body wellness and relaxation.
- CBD is not marijuana – Here’s where the scientific terms can cause a bit of confusion. Marijuana is a type of cannabis plant, and CBD is a cannabinoid that’s found in the marijuana plant. There are other plants in the cannabis plant family, such as hemp. The hemp plant also produces CBD and naturally contains much less THC than marijuana. In addition, bio-identical CBD molecules can be produced from entirely different plant sources, without any THC at all—more on that later.
Does CBD Work Alone?
It’s a popular theory that the full range of cannabinoids found in cannabis may get a power-up when taken together. However, this “entourage effect” theory is unproven, and a 2020 review of the current research found little clinical evidence to support it.
CBD and other cannabinoids work by interacting with a system of receptors and neurotransmitters found throughout the body. This system is called the endocannabinoid system, or the ECS.
The ECS is made to respond to molecules naturally produced by the body that are very similar to plant-produced cannabinoids like CBD. That’s why cannabinoids are able to interact with the ECS and modulate its functions.
So, how does CBD work without THC? Here’s the bottom line:
- CBD works by affecting ECS receptors throughout the body2
- Research has shown that CBD does not need other cannabinoids present in order to interact with ECS receptors2
- Because the ECS is responsible for regulating sleep, brain function, digestion, mood, and much more, CBD may have an impact on these same systems2
Benefits of CBD
Since 2018, when the federal government legalized the sale of CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC, CBD has achieved superstar status in the natural wellness world.3 You’ll find it in everything from sleep aids and beauty products to pet supplements.
Why is CBD so popular? Because of its effects on the endocannabinoid system. The ECS affects human health from head to foot. CBD’s ability to interact with this system makes CBD a supplement with powerful potential.2
Scientific studies on CBD were held back before 2018 by legal restrictions, but now the body of research is growing rapidly. In a variety of studies, researchers have found promising results, finding that CBD may support:
- Relaxation and stress relief – Much research has focused on the potential use of CBD for emotional regulation and stress. Because many ECS receptors are located in the areas of the brain that control memory, fear, and emotion, it makes sense that CBD may affect mood. So far, research suggests that CBD can help to create feelings of well-being and calmness.2
- Digestion – ECS receptors are found throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Research has shown that CBD can activate these receptors and may help to reduce acid secretion, irritation, and discomfort. CBD may also be able to protect against intestinal damage and inflammation caused by stress, substances like NSAIDs and alcohol, and other factors.4
- Sleep – Although CBD doesn’t cause sleepiness directly, it’s thought that it can aid with relaxation and general feelings of calmness. Some research suggests that it may help increase sleep duration.5 Other studies have found promising results for reducing problems with REM sleep and daytime sleepiness. It may also be able to help those who struggle with sleep due to general physical discomfort.6
- Relieving discomfort in muscles – CBD may have muscle relaxing properties that can help with pain relief and discomfort in the body.2
- Supporting joint health and comfort – ECS receptors are found in the immune system and seem to play a part in inflammation and swelling.2 Because of this, CBD may be able to produce anti-inflammatory effects, possibly easing joint discomfort and soothing soreness after workouts or overuse.
Why Buy CBD Without THC?
There are a variety of reasons you might opt for CBD without THC:
- You may want to experience the benefits of CBD without the worry about the psychoactive and intoxicating effects of THC
- For those who need to pass drug testing, or simply aren’t comfortable with the possibility of experiencing THC’s effects, it’s important to be able to use CBD alone
However, it’s not as simple as choosing a product that’s labeled as THC-free, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate. If you were wondering, will CBD show up on a drug test? The answer isn’t completely straightforward. As long as you are using THC-free products, CBD should not result in a positive test. Unfortunately, many CBD products include trace amounts of THC. By federal law, THC content is allowable in legal CBD products up to 0.3%. Although this amount is legal, it can sometimes show up in drug testing.
Studies have found that labeling on CBD products is not always reliable. One study found that 69% of the 84 products studied contained more or less CBD than the label indicated. 21% of products contained THC without noting it on the label.7 The only way to be absolutely certain your CBD contains no THC is to opt for a non-cannabis CBD product that is 100% guaranteed THC-free.
Which CBD Products Contain THC?
To understand how to select CBD without THC, let’s look at the three classifications you’ll see on CBD products:
- Full-spectrum CBD – This is CBD oil that includes all cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids found in cannabis. It is usually extracted from marijuana and does include THC. However, the amount of THC will vary.
- Broad-spectrum CBD – This is CBD that contains the other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in cannabis plants, but should only contain trace amounts of THC. It’s often derived from hemp plants, so should naturally contain much less THC than full-spectrum CBD. If the product is properly labeled, it should include 0.3% THC or less.
- CBD Isolate – As the name implies, this is pure CBD separated from all other components of cannabis. It should not include any THC or other terpenes and flavonoids. In most cases, pure CBD is derived from hemp plants, unless it is a synthetic CBD.
What Is Synthetic CBD?
A newer innovation in the CBD space is CBD isolates that are synthesized from non-cannabis sources.8 For example, Peels CBD is the only CBD that is not derived from hemp, but instead is a bio-identical synthetic CBD molecule created from a terpene found in orange peels.
“Bio-identical” means that on a molecular level, these CBD products are completely indistinguishable from CBD derived from cannabis plants like hemp. Your body will process it the same way as hemp-derived CBD.
How to Choose Your CBD Product
CBD is generally very safe and well-tolerated since it’s so similar to the endocannabinoids your body produces naturally.9 Any side effects should stop when you stop using the product or reduce the amount.10 The most commonly reported side effects are:10
- Stomach upset
However, it’s important to note that since CBD products are considered a supplement, they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration like a medication would be. Because of this, it’s wise to take the time to do your research and choose your CBD product carefully.
There are many CBD products to choose from including a CBD gummy or other form of edible, CBD tincture, CBD immunity shots, and more. If you are wanting to try a CBD gummy, consider the differences between hemp gummies vs CBD gummies to decide which would best suit you.
Pro-Tip: Look for the Certificate of Analysis – Any reputable CBD manufacturer should make a certificate of analysis (COA) readily available on their website. This is an independent, third-party lab report that certifies the purity and exact CBD content of the product.11
Choose Worry-Free Wellness With Peels
CBD can offer a wide range of health benefits, from supporting digestive health and helping with pain relief in your joints to promoting calmness and relaxation.
But with so many CBD products on the market, it can be challenging to find one that meets your health goals while feeling confident you’re not taking any additives, chemicals, or contaminants you don’t want in your body.
If you’d like to incorporate CBD into your wellness routine but you want to be certain your product is safe, clean, and contains only what it says on the label, choose Peels CBD. Our products never contain any THC, because they don’t come from cannabis.
Welcome to cannabis-free CBD.
- Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology. The ‘entourage effect’ or ‘hodge-podge hashish’: the questionable rebranding, marketing, and expectations of cannabis polypharmacy. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17512433.2020.1721281?journalCode=ierj20
- National Library of Medicine. Cannabidiol. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Cannabidiol
- United States Food and Drug Administration. Hemp production and the 2018 Farm Bill. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/congressional-testimony/hemp-production-and-2018-farm-bill-07252019
- Current Neuropharmacology. Role of cannabinoids in gastrointestinal mucosal defense and inflammation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5333598/
- Medical News Today. What to know about CBD and sleep. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/cbd-and-sleep#research
- Current Psychiatry Reports. Cannabis, cannabinoids, and sleep: a review of the literature. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28349316/
- Journal of the American Medical Association. Labeling accuracy of cannabidiol extracts sold online. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2661569
- Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. Synthetic and natural derivatives of cannabidiol. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33537934/
- Harvard Health Publishing. CBD products are everywhere. But do they work? https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/cbd-products-are-everywhere-but-do-they-work
- United States Food and Drug Administration. What you need to know (and what we’re working to find out) about products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds, including CBD. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-need-know-and-what-were-working-find-out-about-products-containing-cannabis-or-cannabis
- Leaf Report. What is a CBD certificate of analysis (COA) and why is it important to you? https://www.leafreport.com/education/what-is-a-cbd-certificate-of-analysis-coa-and-why-is-it-important-to-you-4089