CBD and Cannabis Glossary

In an effort to clear up misconceptions and help the consumer better understand CBD’s potential effects, Leafreport has created this list of definitions for CBD-related terms based on the most up-to-date clinical research and expert thought.
Written by 
Alexa Peters, Cannabis Writer.
|Last Updated:
CBD Cannabis glossary

Understanding CBD—the many forms of CBD, the way it’s extracted, the products CBD is put into, the dosage you should take, and more—can make all the difference in finding a CBD product that may work for your issues. And yet, because the industry is so new and largely unregulated, there is a lot of conflicting information out there about CBD.


2-AG, or 2-Arachidonoylglycerol, is an endocannabinoid produced by the body that binds with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. It is found in its highest levels in the central nervous system.


Adaptogens are substances used in herbal medicine that have the proposed ability to stabilize and balance biological processes under stressful conditions. Cannabis is considered by some to have “adaptogenic” properties.


Anandamide is an endocannabinoid naturally produced by the body that interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. By binding to cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, anandamide influences mood and other physiological systems including the perception of pain, pleasure, and reward, appetite, sleep and the immune response.


A greasy, thicker mixture used to protect the skin. Lotions and creams are thinner and less viscous than balms


Bioavailability is a measurement of how well a substance is absorbed by the body. Different delivery forms of CBD have different bioavailabilities.

Broad-spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD is cannabidiol that contains all the naturally-occurring compounds in the cannabis plant except THC, which has been removed in processing.


Cannabinoid is the general name for the compounds in the cannabis plant and in some other plants that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system to elicit changes in mood and bodily processes like appetite.


Cannabis is a genus of plants that include marijuana and hemp plants. There are generally 3 species of cannabis –.Cannabis sativa, indica and ruderale. Cannabis with >0.3% THC is considered a Schedule 1 Drug under U.S. Federal Law. When levels of THC in a cannabis strain are < 0.3% or less, it is considered legal to use recreationally and/or medically in most U.S. states.

Cannabis Indica

Cannabis Indica is a subspecies of the cannabis plant with broad leaves and is thought to have a more calming, sedative effect when consumed.

Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis Sativa is a subspecies of the cannabis plant with narrow leaves that is thought to have an energizing effect when consumed, but also has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.

Carrier oil

A carrier oil is a type of oil that helps to effectively transmit certain substances into the body. For instance, with any oil-based CBD product there is a foundational carrier oil, like coconut oil, used that helps to deliver the CBD dose to the body.

CB1, CB2 receptors

The CB1 and CB2 receptors are the part of the endocannabinoid system that bind to both endogenous cannabinoids and phytocannabinoids. The binding of substances to these receptors determine each substance’s effects on behavior and the body. The CB1 receptors are located primarily in the central nervous system, meanwhile CB2 receptors are found primarily in the peripheral nervous system, immune cells, and throughout the body.


CBC, or cannabichromene, is one of over a hundred cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Research suggests it may have therapeutic applications.


Cannabidiol, known commonly as CBD, is a naturally-occurring and non-intoxicating cannabinoid in the cannabis plants.


CBDA is the acidic form of cannabidiol. It is CBD that has not yet been decarboxylated, or exposed to the heat that activates its effects.

CBD Edible

CBD edibles are foods that have been infused with cannabidiol.

CBD Extraction

CBD Extraction is the process by which cannabidiol is isolated and derived from the cannabis plant.

CBD Flower

CBD flower is the actual bud of the hemp plant, which is used to make CBD products.


CBD oils are oil-based extracts that often blend CBD oil, a medium-chain triglyceride carrier oil like coconut oil, and sometimes, essential oils for flavor.

CBD Potency

CBD Potency is essentially a reflection of how much CBD is in every unit of dosage. In a tincture, the potency is mg/mL while in other oral forms of CBD, the potency is mg/capsule or mg/gummy. Potency is not necessarily a guarantee of noticeable results because different delivery systems (eg. tincture vs. a gummy) may have different scales of bioavailability and because individuals may metabolize CBD to different degrees, but the term potency can be valuable when comparing CBD doses in the same delivery method.

CBD Quality

CBD Quality is discerned based on the degree to which a product meets the certain standards and how those results are reported on its Certificate of Analysis.

CBD Tincture

CBD tinctures are alcohol-based extracts that often also contain sweeteners and other additives for taste.


CBG, or cannabigerol, is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Research suggests it may have therapeutic applications.


CBN, or cannabinol, is one of over a hundred cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Research suggests it may have therapeutic applications.


CBT, or cannabicitran, is a very rare, minor cannabinoid that naturally exists in the cannabis plant.

Certificates of Analysis (COA)

Certificates of Analysis are quality assurance documents that verify if a product meets certain standards.

CO2 Extraction

CO2 extraction uses pressure and CO2’s gas and liquid properties to derive cannabidiol from raw cannabis plant matter.


Groups of plants that are selected for specific characteristics.


the removal of a small chemical group (a carboxyl group) to convert acidic forms of cannabinoids to more active forms. This is usually done by heating the plant material.


Endocannabinoids are lipid neurotransmitters naturally produced in mammals. Anandamide and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are the two primary endocannabinoids.

Endocannabinoid deficiency­

A proposed theory that suggests that various conditions such as migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, some neurodegenerative diseases and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be due to deficient levels of endocannabinoids.

Endocannabinoid system­

The Endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex biological system responsible for maintaining homeostasis, or balance, in the body. The Endocannabinoid system regulates levels of endocannabinoids which bind to the cannabinoid receptors throughout the body. The endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that help regulate sleep, appetite, memory, learning, stress, digestion, pain, the “reward system”, the immune system and fertility. was first discovered by researchers in the 1990s.

Entourage effect

The entourage effect is a theory that says the potential effects of the compounds in cannabis are heightened when they are consumed simultaneously. For instance, the theory suggests the psychoactive effects of THC are heightened when consumed with the other naturally-occurring cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes found in the plant.


The separation of substances in a complex mixture.

Ethanol extraction

Ethanol extraction is a form of solvent extraction using ethanol. It works by heating up and soaking cannabis plant material in ethanol until the components of the plant can be extracted from the solution.

Farm Bills ­

The Farm Bill is a package of legislation in the United States that is changed and reviewed every five years, and which dictates agricultural and food policy in the country. The last Farm Bill, which passed in December 2018, descheduled hemp.


The FDA is shorthand for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the governmental body responsible for maintaining safety, efficacy and security of both human and veterinary drugs, biological products and medical devices. The FDA is responsible for the regulation of cannabis and cannabis-derived products in the United States.

First Pass Metabolism

After ingestion by mouth, substances such as drugs or cannabinoids pass into the digestive system where they are absorbed by the blood. This blood then passes through the liver where a significant portion of those substances are metabolized and degraded by the liver before reaching the other parts of the body. First Pass Metabolism can be avoided by several different delivery methods including topical (on the skin), sublingual or buccal (inside the cheek).


Flavonoids are a class of plant molecules and includes anthocyanins, flavanones and isoflavonoids. They are plant pigments but can function as antioxidants.

Full-spectrum ­CBD

Full-spectrum CBD is cannabidiol that contains all the compounds naturally present in the cannabis plant. In other words, none of the THC, flavonoids, terpenes that naturally occur in the hemp plant has been processed out, but it still must contain 0.3% THC or less.

Heavy metals

Heavy metals are high-density elements like lead or mercury. Heavy metals can be absorbed into any crop, including cannabis, if the land is contaminated, if heavy metals are present in any pesticides or chemicals used in the growing process, and/or if not properly flushed out during product manufacturing. If consumed, these metals can be toxic to humans, even at trace amounts.


Hemp is a variety of cannabis plant that can be hybridized and cultivated to contain 0.3% THC or less. It is often grown for industrial use and for the production of legal CBD.

Hemp seed oil

Hemp seed oil is the non-psychoactive substance that comes from pressing the seeds of the hemp plant. It contains little to no THC and little CBD, but is rich in various nutrients.


A term used to describe the functions needed to maintain a dynamic balance in an organism or body.


A cross between two different varieties, strains or cultivars of plants.

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp is a commodity fiber crop grown specifically for industrial use, and now, for its cannabidiol content. It contains less than 0.3% THC and can be bred to be naturally abundant in CBD.

Isolate CBD

Isolate CBD is cannabidiol that has been processed so as to remove everything except for the CBD content itself. It’s essentially pure CBD.

Lab Results

Lab results, as they pertain to CBD, are the scientific values associated with purity, concentration (potency) and other parameters.


Marijuana is another name to describe the cannabis plant and one that is often used interchangeably with the term cannabis. That said, cannabis is the more proper scientific name for the plant, because it’s the genus that contains all three cannabis subspecies: Cannabis sativa, cannabis Indica, and ruderale .

MCT oil

MCT oil, made from medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), is a type of fatty acid that your body can absorb easily. This also makes it a popular carrier oil for CBD products.


These are single-celled microorganisms that can contaminate cannabis products and make humans sick. E. coli is a common example of a microbial.


Micro-dosing is the consumption of a substance, usually a psychedelic drug, at so low a dose it is unlikely to elicit whole-body effects.


Non-GMO means that the ingredients in a product were not created with the use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Olive Oil Extraction

Olive Oil Extraction is a process of deriving cannabinoids and other compounds from cannabis plant matter using heat and olive oil for the solution.


Pesticides are a substance used to control pests, usually in an agricultural setting.


Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced in the trichomes of the cannabis plant. THC and CBD are phytocannabinoids.

Psychoactive effect

A psychoactive effect is one that affects mental processes like cognition or memory. Alcohol, caffeine, and cannabis are all examples of psychoactive substances that elicit such effects, although a psychoactive substance is not necessarily chemically addictive.


A salve is an ointment used topically to soothe the body’s surface. Balms tend to be thicker than salves and both are thicker than creams, lotions or gels.


A solvent is a substance, usually a liquid, that may dissolve another material to form a solution.

Solvent Extraction

Solvent extraction is a method of deriving cannabinoids and other compounds from plant matter using a fluid that has the ability to dissolve another substance, like alcohol or butane.

Steam Distillation

Steam Distillation is a process where cannabidiol and other compounds are separated from raw plant matter using saturated steam.


A strain is a varietal of the cannabis plant. Thousands of cannabis varietals have been created through the interbreeding landrace strains, subtly different types of cannabis plants that emerged naturally in different parts of the world due to differences in environmental factors.


Delivered under the tongue. Tinctures often come with a recommendation to hold the liquid under the tongue for 30-60 seconds. This allows for faster absorption and bypasses First Pass Metabolism.

Sustainable agriculture

Sustainable agriculture involves cultivating crops like hemp in a way that is continuous and not degradative to the environment.


Terpenes are aromatic compounds responsible for the scent and flavor of many plants and herbs, including cannabis. Many terpenes have been found to have health benefits.


THCa is the acidic form of tetrahydrocannabinol. It is THC that has not yet been decarboxylated, or exposed to the heat necessary to activate its psychotropic effects.


Tetrahydrocannabinol, known commonly as THC, is a naturally-occurring and psychoactive cannabinoid in a cannabis plant.

Third-party testing

Third-party testing is a quality control process in which an independent lab tests a product to verify if it meets the certain standards. Third-party testing is used to verify if CBD is the quality and potency advertised.

USDA-certified Organic

Any crop with the USDA-certified Organic label has been grown and handled to meet organic agriculture standards, such as without the use of genetically modified organisms or pesticides. Here is the full list of USDA-certified organic standards.


Inhalation of vaporized substances, usually with an electronic vaporizer or e-cigarette-type device.


Substances can be fat-soluble or water-soluble. Any substance that dissolves in water is water soluble.

Alexa Peters
Alexa Peters
Cannabis Writer
Alexa Peters is a Seattle-based freelance writer and editor with a specialty in arts &amp; culture, wellness, and lifestyle journalism, as well as content writing. My cannabis and CBD-focused work has appeared in Leafly, CannabisMD, Healthline, Green Valley Nation, and many other publications.

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