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The Ultimate CBD Glossary: The Terms You Need to Know

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To be a savvy CBD shopper, you’ve gotta know the jargon. So whether you’re new to the world of CBD or just looking for a refresher, here you are covered on the vocabulary to support you as you shop!

Alcohol extraction

A method commonly used to extract cannabinoids from cannabis plants. In this process, cannabis is first soaked in an alcohol, such as ethanol, to remove the plant material. The alcohol is removed through evaporation.


Bioaccumulation is the process where a living organism accumulates toxic substances. The hemp plant is a bioaccumulator and absorbs toxic substances from soil and pesticides. This is why it is important that the final product produced from hemp is tested for heavy metals to ensure these are at safe levels for human consumption.

Cannabigerol (CBG)

Cannabigerol is another one of the many cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa L. plant. It is found in large amounts in some industrial hemp varieties as its precursor CBGa. Currently clinical research of how CBG works in the human body is at an early stage. CBG is not a controlled substance.


A delivery method for CBD oils and extracts that’s easy to swallow (literally). Capsule products resemble the gel pills you’re used to seeing at your local pharmacy.

Carrier Oil

Carrier oils are those that are used to dilute essential oils ready for application. These are usually made from vegetable oils such as coconut or avocado. In the case od CBD the most common are coconut oil (MCT oil), hemp seed oil and olive oil. Often carrier oils are odourless with a slightly nutty flavour. This taste can often be detected when you take CBD under the tongue.


This is a common term used amongst cannabis and CBD consumers. A concentrate describes a substance where by the diluting agent is either reduced or removed altogether to produce a higher purity product (80-99%).

A CBD oil is usually diluted with hemp seed or MCT oil, this is referred to as a carrier oil. A concentrate will not have any of these additional ingredients. Examples include CBD crystal isolate, wax, shatter, crumble or live resin. These are normally consumed as dabs (a method of vaporisation) which are inhaled for fast acting effects.

CO2 Supercritical Extraction

This is a method used to extract cannabinoids from the hemp plant. It is used due the high level of control it has over temperature and pressure. This method ensures that the oil produced is both pure and clean whilst protecting the active cannabinoids and terpenes found in the cannabis plant.

Another advantage of this method is that you can separate the constituent oils and remove anything that is not wanted in the final product.

Certificate of Analysis (COA) / Lab Certificates

A certificate of analysis or lab report should be provided as verification that the CBD product contains what it says on the label and is free of dangerous heavy metals and solvents. These reports can contain exact measurements of cannabinoids found in the product, heavy metals testing, solvent tests and terpene levels in the final product.

A high-quality lab report should be completed by a third party and include batch numbers so that products can be matched to the results.

CB1 Receptors

Cannabinoid receptors, which form part of the endocannabinoid system, found on cell surfaces in the human body. Concentrated in the brain, central nervous system and some other organs.

CB2 Receptors

Cannabinoid receptors, which form part of the endocannabinoid system, found on cell surfaces in the human body. Mostly in peripheral organs, especially cells associated with the immune system. CB2 receptors are believed to regulate inflammation.


CBD – short for Cannabidiol – is one of the most common chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. It is classed as a Cannabinoid, along with THC and CBN, and over a hundred other compounds found in the plants. CBD is a naturally occurring chemical known for its supposed health and wellness benefits.

Among its reported benefits are its ability to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, its anti-inflammatory properties, and its ability to ease the symptoms of spasticity-related conditions and diseases. It is increasingly used in products, like oils and tinctures, as an accessible way to reap these benefits, and impart a feeling of relaxation and calm. Unlike its Cannabinoid cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it’s not psychoactive.


CBD oil is a wellness product, often coming under the umbrella of food supplement, that contains Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD oils can come in three forms: CBD distillates, Broad Spectrum Oils, and Full Spectrum Oils. The different kinds of oils relate to their CBD purity. Other compounds which may be found in oils are terpenes, flavonoids and other Cannabinoids.

CBD Oils are usually CBD-infused carrier oils, such as coconut oil, Hemp oil or olive oil.


CBDA is an abbreviation of Cannabidiolic Acid. It is the acid precursor for CBD. This means that it is found in raw Hemp and Cannabis plants, and only becomes CBD one it has undergone a chemical reaction. The reaction needed to convert CBDA into CBD is decarboxylation (This essentially removes the Carboxyl group of the molecule. Decarboxylation is achieved through the heating of the molecule.


Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in all strains of the cannabis plant. The most common Cannabinoids are the psychoactive THC, and the anti-inflammatory CBD. Cannabinoids act on the Cannabinoid Receptors in the Endocannaboid System, to create different effects.

These effects can include: increased/decreased feelings of anxiety and depression; increased relaxation; altered mood; decreased pain sensation; effect on learning and memory.


Cannabinol is one of the over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The compound is known to be mildly psychoactive and is usually only found in trace amounts in cannabis. However, the concentration of the Cannabinoid is increased in ‘aged’ cannabis. CBN is made from the aging THC compound, which is converted to CBNa when exposed to direct sunlight. This is then converted into CBN.

In contrast to THC, it has a high affinity to the CB2 receptor, as opposed to the CB1 receptor in the Endocannabinoid System. However, it has a lower affinity for these receptors than THC.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid discovered in 1940. It is one of some 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants and accounts for up to 40% of the plant’s extract. In 2018, clinical research on cannabidiol included preliminary studies of anxiety, cognition, movement disorders, and pain.

Cannabidiol can be taken into the body in multiple ways, including by inhalation of cannabis smoke or vapor, as an aerosol spray into the cheek, and by mouth. It may be supplied as CBD oil containing only CBD as the active ingredient (no included tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] or terpenes), a full-plant CBD-dominant hemp extract oil, capsules, dried cannabis, or as a prescription liquid solution. CBD does not have the same psychoactivity as THC, and may affect the actions of THC. As of 2018, the mechanism of action for its biological effects has not been determined.


Cannabis refers to a group of three plants with psychoactive properties, known as Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. When the flowers of these plants are harvested and dried, you’re left with one of the most common drugs in the world. Some call it weed, some call it pot, and others call it marijuana.

However, different strains of the cannabis plants have a different potency. This is mostly measured on the CBD:THC ratio of the plant. Cannabis Indica and Ruderalis tend to have a higher concentration of THC:CBD, whereas Sativa strains are the other way around. Hemp is a strain of Cannabis Sativa plant.

Cannabis is usually consumed for its relaxing and calming effects. In some locations, it’s also prescribed to help with a range of medical conditions, including chronic pain, glaucoma, and poor appetite.


The dictionary definition is the removal or elimination of a carboxyl from a molecule. With regards to cannabinoids this is the process whereby heat is applied to CBDa to convert it to the more desired CBD. The same process is used for converting THCa to THC and CBGa to CBG.

Delivery method

How a drug enters the body in order to produce the desired therapeutic effects. The delivery method of a given drug can affect how quickly it starts working and how much of each dose gets absorbed by the body (bioavailability). CBD delivery methods include ingestible capsules, gummies, and tinctures, as well as topical lotions, salves and lip balms.

Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol

Known by the abbreviation THC, this is a primary cannabinoid found in cannabis and the one responsible for its psychoactive effects. It works on endocannabinoid receptors in the brain to release dopamine. Some dislike the “high” feeling or other side effects of this chemical and prefer hemp-based products that contain very little to no THC.


Medical cannabis dispensaries are designed to give people a secure location to gather information and purchase cannabis grown to treat ailments. Laws regarding access vary by state and country.


The quantity of medicine prescribed at one time. Dosing CBD depends on therapeutic goals, as well as how it is ingested or applied.


Flavonoids are phytonutrients found in many plants and most fruits and vegetables. The y can contribute to the colour, appearance, favour and health benefits of plants. They are often considered to be antioxidants, and have anti-inflammatory properties as well as wide reaching health benefits.

Full Spectrum

Full Spectrum is a phrase relating to types of CBD products. The name references the use of a full spectrum of compounds found in the cannabis plant, as opposed to solely Cannabidiol.

When extracted from Hemp, the THC concentration in the removed compounds will be less than 0.3% (0.2% in the UK). As opposed to removing all of the other compounds, or just the THC, the compounds are all left to remain in the finished product. A Full Spectrum oil is thought to be the most effective at unlocking ‘the Entourage Effect’.

Heavy Metals

A heavy metal is a dense metal that is usually toxic at low concentrations. These include but are not limited to lead, mercury and arsenic. This is something that is often tested for in CBD oils as the hemp plant is a bio-accumulator and can easily absorb these from the ground and any nutrients used as part of the growing process.


Hemp, also called industrial hemp, is a low-THC cannabis plant. It originated in Central Asia and has been used for thousands of years for the production of clothing and as a construction material. The plant is believed to have up to 50,000 end uses including paper, fuel and beauty products.

Legal strains of Hemp typically have a THC content of less than 0.3% (America, Canada, New Zealand and Europe), or 0.2% (United Kingdom). However, in some countries, like Switzerland, legal Hemp can have a THC concentration of up to 1%.

Hemp Seed Oil

This is the oil produced by pressing the seeds of the hemp plant. They are low in cannabinoids such as THC and CBD but high in vitamins and fatty acids. This oil is used for salads, cooking and as a carrier oil for CBD products.


This refers to testing to ensure the genetic consistency across strains of cannabis, or to the even distribution of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or CBD in a product, such as an edible.


When referring to CBD, an Isolate is the purest form of CBD product. A Cannibidiol Isolate is produced by removing every other compound found in the cannabis plant. This includes the psychoactive THC and other Cannabinoids, the Terpenes and Flavinoids.

While some people believe that CBD isolates, as the most pure, are the most efficacious products for achieving the desired effects, it is becoming increasingly debated that the Entourage Effect of broad and full spectrum products may be more effective in some cases.


Marijuana is a psychoactive drug derived from the Cannabis plant. Marijuana is high in THC, unlike Hemp, which is the main psychoactive compound, known to create the “high”, in the plant. The chemical is found in resin produced by the leaves and buds primarily of the female cannabis plant. The plant also contains more than 500 other chemicals, including more than 100 compounds that are chemically related to THC, called cannabinoids.

There are a variety of ways to consume the drug, including smoking, vaping and cooking them into edibles like brownies and cookies. Stronger forms of marijuana include sinsemilla (from specially tended female plants) and concentrated resins containing high doses of marijuana’s active ingredients, including honey-like hash oil, waxy budder, and hard amber-like shatter. These resins are increasingly popular among those who use them both recreationally and medicinally.


Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oils are chains of fats. As they are shorter in length, they are easily digested which is why they are used as a carrier for CBD oil. MCT oils are usually extracted from coconut as it contains over 50% medium chain fats. MCT oils can also be produced from dairy and palm oil.


A technique that involves consuming small servings of CBD supplements throughout the day. Microdosing can be beneficial because it allows the user to maintain stable CBD levels in your system around the clock. This consistency can be important for those who use CBD for its balancing properties.


All organic products are fully traceable from farm to end user, so you can be sure of what you’re receiving. The standards for organic food are laid down in European law so any food labelled as organic must meet strict rules. Unlike non-organic food production, which makes wide use of manufactured and mined fertilisers and pesticides, organic food is produced with natural fertilisers from plants, less energy and more respect for the animals that provide it.

Organic farming and food production is not easy and takes real commitment and attention to detail, and is backed up by rigorous, independent inspection and certification. In relation to CBD, it is slightly easier to meet the requirements of being organic, as the cannabis plant very rarely requires pesticides or fertilisers to grow.


The chemical compounds in cannabis plants that mimic the endocannabinoids naturally produced by the body. CBD and THC are examples of phytocannabinoids, but there are at least 113 different phytocannabinoids in the cannabis plant, each producing unique effects in the body.


A measure of drug activity expressed in terms of the amount required to produce an effect of given intensity in the body. A high-potency drug evokes a larger response even at a low dose, while a low-potency drug evokes a small response at low concentrations and requires higher doses for a similar effect


Psychoactive means something that acts upon the central nervous system to alter brain function. The alteration of brain function can cause changes in mood, perception and behaviour.


An ointment made from the cannabis plant to be applied directly to the skin.


A cannabis plant bred for certain characteristics and use in medicinal, recreational, or industrial purposes. Industrial hemp, for example, is a strain bred to contain more CBD and less THC than other varieties, making it useful for medicinal products and legal under the Farm Bill.


Sublingual literally means “under the tongue”. This refers to a method of CBD consumption whereby the liquid is held under the tongue to absorb the active ingredients.


Terpenes are a class of organic compounds found in many plants. The different features there are over a hundred different terpenes and they are often used by plants for defence mechanisms, by deterring herbivores, and attracting parasites and predators of herbivores.

Terpenes have been found to have some medicinal and therapeutic properties which, along with other plant compounds, are the reason plants have been used in traditional medicines for thousands of years. Collections of Terpenes in a plant may work together with other plant compounds, such as Flavonoids and Cannabinoids to produce a number of different effects.


THC, or Tetrahydrocaannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of the marijuana’s psychoactive effects. It behaves in much the same way as Endocannabinoids found in the body, attaching to receptors in the Endocannabinoid System.

Cannabinoid receptors in the body facilitate a large number of physiological and psychological reactions. These include affecting mood, pain-sensation,  memory and learning ability. THC, when interacting with these receptors, stimulates the production of Dopamine. This can create a euphoric effect – often called “feeling high”. CBD (Cannabidiol), another cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, can often impede the effects of THC.


A tincture is typically an extract of plant or animal material dissolved in ethanol (ethyl alcohol). Solvent concentrations of 25–60% are common, but may run as high as 90%. In chemistry, a tincture is a solution that has ethanol as its solvent. In herbal medicine, alcoholic tinctures are made with various ethanol concentrations, 20% being the most common.

Other solvents for producing tinctures include vinegar, glycerol (also called glycerine), diethyl ether and propylene glycol, not all of which can be used for internal consumption. Ethanol has the advantage of being an excellent solvent for both acidic and basic (alkaline) constituents. A tincture using glycerine is called a glycerite. Glycerine is generally a poorer solvent than ethanol. Vinegar, being acidic, is a better solvent for obtaining alkaloids but a poorer solvent for acidic components. For individuals who choose not to ingest alcohol, non-alcoholic extracts offer an alternative for preparations meant to be taken internally.

Low volatility substances such as iodine and mercurochrome can also be turned into tinctures.


A topical is a product that is applied to the outside of the body – common example is muscle pain creams. CBD topicals can include oils and infused cosmetic products.


A vaporiser (or vape) is a device used to heat a plant substance so that it can be inhaled. The idea is that by keeping the temperature lower, plant material is not combusted and only the active ingredients are inhaled e.g. CBD.

Water Soluble

Water soluble means that the product can be dissolved in water.