What is CBD Oil?

The basics of Canada’s favorite wellness supplement


Everyone’s talking about it. Many people are already using it. But what exactly is CBD oil, and how does it work? 

What is CBD oil?

CBD oil is a combination of
  • CBD,
  • a carrier oil, and
  • (sometimes) other wellness ingredients.


CBD is a natural, anti-inflammatory compound that’s extracted from cannabis plants. It’s one of a group of substances called cannabinoids that produce soothing effects when consumed or rubbed onto the skin. 

Researchers believe that cannabis contains over 100 cannabinoids, many of which have therapeutic potential. As well as in cannabis, cannabinoids are also found in some other plants, such as ginseng, black pepper, and cloves.

Carrier oils

To make CBD extracts easier to consume, manufacturers infuse them into high-fat oils. Hemp seed oil, olive oil, and coconut-derived MCT oil are all popular choices, each of which offers a mild taste and beneficial Omega fatty acids. 

Studies show that a greater amount of CBD is absorbed into the body when it’s consumed with high-fat food (up to four times more).

Once infused into a carrier oil, CBD can be dopped under the tongue, added to food, or massaged into the skin.

Beyond oils, manufacturers also infuse CBD into a whole bunch of delivery formats. These include CBD edibles, creams, sprays, vape concentrates, and roll-ons.

Other ingredients

Other ingredients often found in CBD oils include additional cannabinoids, superfood extracts, flavorings, and essential oils.

Minor cannabinoids extracted from cannabis like CBC, CBG, and CBN offer similar anti-inflammatory benefits. When taken with CBD, many people experience a more well-rounded effect.

Similarly, superfood ingredients like turmeric and essential oils like peppermint can complement CBD’s effect.

Some people find the earthy, plant taste of CBD oil slightly bitter, which is why many brands offer flavored CBD oils in popular options such as mango.

What is full-spectrum CBD oil?

CBD manufacturers use the term “spectrum” to indicate how CBD has been extracted. This also gives consumers an idea of the range of cannabinoids contained within a product.

  • Full-spectrum CBD oil contains a whole-plant extract that includes all the cannabinoids present in the original cannabis plant.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains an extract that’s been processed to remove certain cannabinoids. Most often, manufacturers will remove the small traces of THC present in full-spectrum oils.
  • Isolate CBD oil has been further processed to remove all cannabinoids except CBD. This leaves an isolated extract that can be up to 99.9% pure.


Because they are unprocessed, full-spectrum oils often contain traces of THC, which is the cannabinoid associated with a high or stoned sensation.

However, legitimate CBD oils are always made from cannabis plants that are bred to be low in THC. As a result, full-spectrum oils may cause sensations of relaxation, but do not cause intoxication.

What is CBD oil made from?

CBD is extracted from cannabis. Traditionally, cannabis plants are categorized as either:
  • Hemp, or
  • Marijuana.


Marijuana plants are often bred to produce potent flowers rich in intoxicating cannabinoids. These are the plants responsible for cannabis’s reputation as a recreational drug. However, marijuana is also useful for managing pain and stimulating appetite.

Hemp plants are bred to be high in CBD. They’re also farmed for their leaves, seeds, and stems. The majority of CBD brands use hemp plants to make their products thanks to its widespread legality and low levels of THC.

Today, cannabis farmers are constantly breeding new strains of both marijuana and hemp. As a result, traditional categories are blurry. Many strains of hemp offer potent mixes of cannabinoids, while some marijuana plants are CBD-dominant. 

Is CBD oil the same as hemp oil?

CBD and other cannabinoids are only found in the flowers of hemp plants. Hemp leaves, stems, and seeds do not contain CBD, so any product made from those parts of the plant is not CBD oil.

Non-CBD hemp oils offer their own dietary benefits thanks to hemp’s optimal ratio of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. However, they don’t provide any anti-inflammatory effects.

How does CBD oil work?

CBD works by interacting with a part of the body called the endocannabinoid system.


CBD works by interacting with a part of the body called the endocannabinoid system.

Alongside the nervous system, the endocannabinoid system plays a regulatory role inside the body, helping us respond to imbalances and stimuli.

It reaches across all major organs including the brain and is responsible for activating hormones, enzymes, and other signaling molecules related to inflammatory responses, stress, sleep, and pain.

Cannabinoids—especially CBD—are able to interact with the endocannabinoid system in a similar way to the molecules our bodies naturally produce, which allows them to affect how the system initiates inflammation. As a result, supplementing with CBD oil can help to reduce swelling, soreness, and other common signs of stress.

What is CBD oil good for?

CBD is often touted as a miracle cure. Part of this reputation comes from the two widespread issues that CBD can help reduce: inflammation and stress.


Many common conditions and illnesses have an inflammatory base. These include arthritis, anxiety, muscle pain, and some types of neurological and gastrointestinal issues.

Using CBD on these and other inflammatory disorders often result in a reduction of symptoms, though CBD is rarely considered a cure for any condition.

What is CBD oil used for?

CBD is used by a large variety of people for very different needs.

  • Some people treat CBD as a daily supplement to help maintain muscle and joint health.

They may take a CBD oil capsule with their breakfast, or use a CBD roll-on after their workout

  • Others use CBD as a point-of-need treatment for anxiety or inflammation.

They may keep a bottle of CBD oil or tin of CBD gummies on hand to help them deal with upcoming stress triggers.

  • Another group of people relies on CBD oil for relief from chronic conditions

Many people with arthritis, insomnia and other disorders have found that they prefer to use CBD to manage their symptoms over more traditional pharmaceutical drugs. They may take several daily doses of high-concentration full-spectrum CBD.


Check out our dosage guide to find out how much CBD to use for specific needs.

Is CBD oil…? (FAQ)

Other basic CBD questions.

Is CBD oil legal?

Yes. CBD oils are legal to consume in both Canada and the US.

In the US, CBD oils must contain less than 0.3% THC to be legal on a federal level. Check your state’s laws for local regulations.

Is CBD oil weed?

No. While intoxicating, high-THC cannabis oils are available, CBD oils do not contain large amounts of high-causing cannabinoids and are most often made from hemp plants.

Is CBD oil safe?

Yes. Numerous clinical studies have confirmed the safety of CBD, even at very high doses. When the UN compiled a report on CBD in 2017, they concluded that “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”

Is CBD oil bad for your liver?

A recent study using mice did show that extremely high dosages of CBD in relation to body weight may cause liver toxicity.

However, there is no evidence that CBD use at recommended dosages is damaging to the liver. In fact, the authors of the study acknowledged that their conclusions were “not applicable to most real-life scenarios.”

Like some other natural compounds (famously grapefruits), CBD can interact with enzymes in the liver that help to break down certain medications. These include some blood pressure and anxiety medications.

As a result, it’s important for anyone taking prescription medications to consult their healthcare provider before starting CBD supplementation.

Is CBD oil addictive?

No. Like other cannabis products, CBD has shown no potential for abuse or dependence formation. However, long-term users of CBD may find themselves developing a tolerance, leading to the need for higher doses to maintain its effects.

Is CBD oil just hype?

No. While there’s definitely lots of hype surrounding CBD right now, there’s also real science underlying its popularity. Check out this review of recent human trials involving CBD.