The ABCs of CBD Oil

cbd oil

Updated as of 3/8/2019 to reflect the passing of the Farm Act, which made CBD federally legal instead of only legal at the state level.

Medical and legal disclaimer: this blog post is for educational purposes only. It’s not medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult with your doctor before making any changes. This is also not legal advice.

The morning after I first used CBD oil, I fluttered my eyes open and said to myself, “I think I fell asleep in this position. Did I even move an inch last night??”

This was curious because I struggled with sleep – both falling asleep and getting deep sleep – for much of my life. Practicing meditation resolved the falling asleep issue, but nothing I tried helped me get deeper, restorative sleep. Even if I slept 8-9 hours, I’d usually wake up tired.

Until CBD.

I can honestly say that since I started using CBD oil every day, I feel consistently well-rested. Better sleep is the main CBD benefit I’ve noticed and the results were immediate. (Keep in mind I take CBD oil – two drops under the tongue – in concert with other healthy habits, so feeling as good as I do now can’t be credited to liquid in a bottle alone.)

Now that I’m finally getting a good night’s sleep, I enjoy life more. I have so much more fire to give in the gym. I’ve fallen more deeply in love with lifting and have more workout stamina as a result.

Let’s be clear though: as a real food lover and supplement skeptic, I’m the last to tout supposed “cure-alls.” While I don’t claim that CBD is a magic potion, the rippling benefits that it provides somehow make it feel like it. And hey, I’m hooked.

It’s safe to say that over the next few years, you’ll see CBD sweep the country… and for good reason. When I polled my Instagram community about whether they were interested in learning about CBD, almost 100% voted that “yes,” I should write this blog post.

Let’s discuss what CBD is, why it’s linked to so many amazing potential health benefits, and how to get your hands on it.

So what exactly is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is a naturally occurring compound found in two different plants in the “cannabis sativa” family – the hemp and marijuana plants. We’ve found a way to extract that compound and bottle it, so to speak. When most people talk about CBD sold over-the-counter, they’re referring to CBD extracted from the hemp plant, not the marijuana one. CBD isn’t weed. Hemp isn’t weed.

Here’s the kicker: CBD offers many of the health benefits of marijuana without making you feel high.

In other words, CBD isn’t “psychoactive” because it only contains a tiny percentage of THC (0.3% or less), the compound in marijuana that makes you “stoned”. For reference, marijuana usually contains between 10-25% THC.

And since the passing of the Farm Bill, a piece of legislation related to agriculture that passed in 2018, CBD extracted from the hemp plant is now also legal at the federal level. There are two requirements it has to meet: it has to follow state and federal laws and be produced by a licensed grower.

Among other things, this new law means that CBD that does meet those requirements can be transferred across state lines for commercial and other purposes, and can be sold, transported, and possessed without restrictions. This had been a gray area for quite some time, as CBD was previously legal in some but not all states, and so it’s exciting to see progress being made in this area.

CBD products come in many forms, including oils, capsules, oral sprays, topical creams, bath bombs, and gummies. Some are ingestible (meaning you eat them) and others get absorbed through the skin. Since CBD only recently became federally legal, these products still aren’t officially classified by the Food and Drug Administration as supplements, food, pharmaceuticals, or over-the-counter drugs. Hopefully that will change soon, as the FDA has stated that it is considering drafting new regulations around CBD – but as of now, CBD-infused food or beverages remain federally unlawful.

Last piece of unbelievably good news: research shows that unlike other substances, we don’t build up a tolerance to CBD. How snazzy is that?

What are the potential benefits of CBD?

CBD might sound like a cure-all because it works on what’s called the endocannabanoid system of the body, which is all about homeostasis or equilibrium.

That’s why research suggests that CBD has such potentially far-reaching health benefits as:

  • Alleviation of anxiety symptoms

  • Reduced pain symptoms

  • Decreased inflammation

  • Alleviation of depression symptoms

  • Reduced seizures in epilepsy patients

  • Reduced symptoms in patients with neurodegenerative disorders

  • Clearer skin

  • Improved symptoms in patients with schizophrenia

Pretty cool. Although not a substitute for eating healthy and moving your body, CBD can reduce stress, which helps with recovering from workouts, regulating hunger hormones, being consistent with your movement routine, promoting fat loss, and getting stronger.

This is the CBD oil I take

There are lots of CBD brands out there, but just as I do with groceries, I like to ensure that the ingredients are wholesome.

Enter: Charlotte’s Web (this isn’t a sponsored post – I’m just a fan).

Charlotte’s Web products are the equivalent of heading to your local farmer’s market and getting produce free of pesticides.

valerie bisharat cbd oil
  • Brand: Charlotte’s Web

  • Product: Full Strength CBD Oil (formerly called the Everyday Hemp Extract Oil)

  • Intended use: To improve sleep

  • Ingredients: Hemp Extract Oil, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Organic Mint Chocolate Flavor Oil (Organic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors)

  • Flavors: Mint Chocolate or Olive Oil (I switch off between the two because the Olive Oil is made using a cleaner extraction method – more on that below – and the Mint Chocolate is my preferred flavor)

  • Sizes: 30 mL or 100 mL

  • Serving of CBD per 1 mL: 6.65 mg

  • Price: $39.99 or $99.99 respectively

  • Number of servings: 30 mL is 30 servings and the 100 mL is 100 servings

  • Dosing: I put two droppers (which is one serving per the ingredient label) under my tongue and hold it there for 60-90 seconds about 10 minutes before I get in bed

If any of you have sticker shock, as someone who isn’t a big spender, let me say: the physical benefits are worth making other tradeoffs in my budget. I’ve even joked that CBD is the best money I spend… it’s not far from the truth.

There are also cheaper options, but unfortunately in this situation, you mostly get what you pay for.

Also, keep in mind that you may have to try a couple of different brands of CBD before you find one that works for you. Responses between people vary. One person’s CBD holy grail might not work for another and vice versa.

On ingredient quality

When it comes to CBD quality, there are three main phrases to remember: “CO2 extraction,” “third party testing,” and “full spectrum.”

Let’s start with CO2 extraction. Basically, there are two primary ways to extract CBD from the hemp plant and CO2 extraction is the healthier option. It’s also more expensive so you’ll see those benefits reflected on the price tag. You usually won’t have to hunt for information on CO2 extraction as companies that employ that method tend to tout it.

If you’re curious, the alternative is solvent extraction, which involves soaking the plant in neurotoxic chemicals like ethanol, hexane, or butane. 🙃 That wouldn’t necessarily be bothersome if you were taking CBD, say, a couple times a year, but if it’s going to be a staple, CO2 extraction is something to consider.

Now, let’s talk third-party testing. Since, like supplements, some CBD products still don’t get approved by the FDA before landing in your medicine cabinet, it’s important to find companies that send their products to third party labs for purity testing. Translation? Through tests, these labs determine if the ingredients in the bottle are in fact what the company says they are.

The last main area to consider is whether an oil is “full spectrum,” meaning it contains lots of different cannabinoids, or whether it contains just the cannabinoid CBD. Research shows that taking a bunch of cannabinoids together provides better benefits than taking CBD alone because they enhance one another. For example, Charlotte’s Web CBD oil contains over 80 beneficial plant compounds.

Finding oil that’s organic, pesticide-free, and herbicide-free is also great. Of course, the Charlotte’s Web product above is all of those things – and is made using CO2 extraction (specifically, the Olive Oil flavor is), is third party tested, and is full-spectrum.

I toggle between using the Olive Oil flavor for its superior extraction method and the Mint Chocolate one for its better (IMO) flavor.

Let me know what you think!

I want to hear your thoughts on CBD! Will you try it? What are your experiences with CBD? Do you have any questions?

Leave it all in the comments!

Happy lifting...
Love and light,


Q: Will CBD make me high?
A: No. CBD is different from marijuana. Marijuana contains 10-25% THC, the compound that makes you feel high, and CBD usually has about 0.3% THC. At the concentration found in CBD, the THC doesn’t trigger a psychoactive response.

If you go to a medical marijuana dispensary, you can purchase marijuana products that contain CBD and will make you high, but you’d have to seek it out.

Q: In what states is CBD legal?
A: Thanks to the Farm Bill passed in December, 2018 hemp – and thus most CBD products – is legal at the federal level, assuming it meets federal and state regulations and is produced by a licensed grower. That being said, each state may still have its own regulations on the use and distribution of hemp, so accessibility might still be challenging.

Q: Can I buy CBD online?
A: CBD is available online, but before purchasing, consider looking into your state’s CBD laws to understand the full context. Plenty of people purchase CBD online without issue, but in some cases, packages have been confiscated. There’s little information currently available on whether that is changing with the 2018 Farm Act.

Q: Can I fly with CBD?
A: According to TSA, the answer is currently still no.

That said, TSA states that they don’t proactively search for CBD or even marijuana-related products. Additionally, under the U.S. Farm Act of 2018, hemp and hemp-derived products (like CBD) can be transferred across state lines. But until TSA changes its regulations, I won’t be flying with CBD in my carry-on or checked bag.

Q: I hear there’s hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD. What’s the difference?
A: Hemp and marijuana are two different plants in the cannabis sativa family. When people talk about taking CBD oil, most of the time, they’re referring to CBD extracted from the hemp plant, which isn’t psychoactive. But CBD is present in marijuana too, so if you seek it out, you can find marijuana products that contain CBD.

Q: Why do you take CBD in oil format?
A: I prefer oil over other formats like gummies or bath bombs because it’s sort of like choosing whole foods over processed ones. My oil is made from three ingredients – hemp extract oil, fractionated coconut oil, and organic mint chocolate flavor oil (organic sunflower oil, natural flavors) – while your average gummies will have ingredients like corn syrup and artificial flavors.

Q: Has CBD been demonstrated to be safe to use?
A: A review of dozens of studies about CBD showed it to be safe in both chronic and high doses (up to 1500 mg per day).

Q: Is it safe for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers?
A: Currently, there aren’t any studies (at least none that I was able to find) exploring how CBD specifically affects pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you’re considering using CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to a doctor you trust first.

Q: How long did you use CBD for before writing this post?
A: Five months.


  1. CBD isn’t psychoactive because it only contains a tiny percentage of THC (0.3% or less), the compound in marijuana that makes you feel high:

  2. Marijuana usually contains between 10-25% THC:

  3. Following the passage of the U.S. Farm Act of 2018, CBD extracted from the hemp plant is legal at the federal level so long as it meets the requirements of federal and state regulations and is produced by a licensed grower:

  4. The U.S. Farm Act of 2018 allows hemp-derived products, including CBD, to be transferred across state lines and to be sold, transported, and possessed without restrictions, provided the hemp products meet federal and state laws and regulations:

  5. The FDA is considering new regulations around CBD, but as of now, CBD-infused food and beverages remains federally unlawful:

  6. We don’t build up a tolerance to CBD:

  7. May help with alleviation of anxiety symptoms:

  8. May help reduce pain symptoms:

  9. May help decrease inflammation:

  10. May alleviate depression symptoms:

  11. May help with reduced seizures in epilepsy patients:

  12. May help with reduced symptoms in patients with neurodegenerative disorders:

  13. May help with clearer skin:

  14. May help with improved symptoms in patients with schizophrenia:

  15. Flying with CBD oil is currently still prohibited by TSA:

  16. Review concluding CBD to be safe: