Say What? “Cannabidiol (CBD)”

CBD chemical composition on blue screen of tablet.


You may be seeing products for sale that contain something called CBD—products like oils, lotions, gummy candy, and more. Maybe you’ve heard that CBD has something to do with marijuana, and that these products can do amazing things: reduce pain and anxiety, help a person sleep, and many others.

Let’s look at some facts. What is CBD, and does it really have any benefits for people’s health?

Small amounts, big claims

CBD stands for cannabidiol (pronounced ca-nuh-bi-DYE-ol). It’s what scientists call the “non-psychoactive” ingredient in marijuana and hemp. That means it doesn’t make a person high.

CBD is typically found in very small amounts in the marijuana plant. It’s one of over 100 chemicals called cannabinoids.

Unlike THC, the chemical in marijuana that causes the high, there are no known harms of taking CBD on its own. But what about those amazing health claims? 

Not so fast

So far, scientific research has found that CBD can help to treat two types of seizure disorders in children, when it’s in a medication (called Epidiolex) that’s been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Scientists are studying whether CBD might be effective in treating other conditions, including anxiety, sleep, pain, and drug and alcohol use disorders. For now, it’s too early to say. More research is underway to determine if CBD could be a promising treatment for these conditions.

CBD products—like lotion, bath oil, or honey—haven’t proven to be effective medical treatments for any conditions.

So, don’t be fooled: Until more research is done, we don’t know if CBD can do most of the things the people selling it say it can do. As scientists learn more, we’ll keep you updated.

Learn more: The real facts about marijuana.

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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