Is CBD Becoming Popular in Europe?

In the early 2010s, the rest of the United States turned to Colorado as an example of the potential success of cannabinoid commerce. Similarly, Europe is now looking to the United States as an example of how to mainstream cannabinoids into the everyday lives of shoppers.

There’s no reason to overstate the situation, and on the contrary, honesty helps the most: European CBD is not the sister of the American market that many hoped it would be by now. Where some see delays, though, others will envision persistent opportunities.

Just because European CBD hasn’t grown the way we expected doesn’t mean it isn’t growing. Where there’s growth, there’s an opportunity — learn the best approaches to the still-hesitant European market in this guide.

Overview of European CBD

Despite being host to many distinct cultures, Europe has politically aligned with the United States since the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after the events of World War II. As a result, most political movements that gain steam in the USA echo across the Atlantic — albeit, often in miniature.

The UK was one of the first major European powers to accept CBD. Once Germany, considered by most to be the de facto head of the European Economic Area (EEA), also gave the green light to hemp-derived cannabinoids, it wasn’t long before the entire EEA began accepting CBD products with less than 0.2% THC — with a few exceptions, of course.

Some EEA nations, including Scandinavian countries Norway and Sweden, do not allow CBD products across their borders that contain any detectable traces of THC. Such complexities are simply to be expected from the immensely multifaceted European market, which spans dozens of cultures and biomes while crisscrossing a fractal patchwork of perpetually revised national names and borders.

History of CBD in Europe

European CBD remained in a gray area for a number of years after its (somewhat) official acceptance in the United States in 2014. The first CBD products became available in the UK sometime circa 2016, but they were often sold outside of existing regulatory capacities amidst a seeming disinterest among domestic law-enforcement agencies.

The UK is the most USA-aligned nation in Europe, which it demonstrated during the Brexit movement of 2016. As CBD became popular in the UK, the phenomenon began spreading into nearby EU nations, prompting the attention of France, Germany, and other major economic powers.

By 2018, the UK had approved medical CBD for a handful of conditions, simultaneously giving an indirect nod to the CBD general market. Products containing less than 0.2% THC generally were now given a pass as the nation sought to establish more-comprehensive cannabinoid legislation.

That legislation has still yet to materialize, but the EU has moved on ahead without the UK. Bulgaria was the first EU nation¹ to officially allow general-market CBD commerce in 2019, and most other EU countries rapidly followed suit.

The current situation

Do not mistake the current stance of laissez faire acceptance of CBD in Europe for a definitive ruling on the matter. Though it likely would not admit it frankly, the EU is almost certainly waiting for the US to say anything truly definitive on the subject of CBD, an event the whole world has been eagerly anticipating for nigh-on a decade.

In the meantime, the most likely possibility is that the European Commission has simply deemed CBD too complicated to either fully regulate or fully ban. Individual member nations appear to be doing fine with the current situation even if it remains somewhat undetermined. There is not currently considerable impetus to change anything — until the US makes the first move, that is.

The latest Prohibition Partners data

As bureaucrats debate in the background, average Europeans are cautiously exploring the international, massively diverse CBD market that has suddenly emerged in EEA countries. Put simply, Europeans haven’t yet incorporated CBD into their daily habits as fully as Americans, but all evidence indicates that they’re well on their way:

– Major impediments to CBD industry growth have disappeared
– Europeans are producing CBD products that rival American quality
– Average people know what CBD is and are open to trying it
– Perspectives on cannabinoids continue to evolve throughout Europe

To add some solidity to our statements, we’ll look at the latest data from cannabis market analyst Prohibition Partners. Just published in January 2023, a report² shows that Europeans are certainly exploring the cannabinoid even if it might be some time before CBD adoption levels equalize between American and European markets.

The Prohibition Partners report focused on one specific metric of CBD use: Frequency among existing users. Put another way, Prohibition Partners wanted to know how often European CBD users use CBD. Here’s what they found out:

– 16.4% use CBD once or more per day
– 12% use CBD twice or more per week
– 11.5% use CBD at least once per week
– 12.4% use CBD at least once per month
– 14.4% use CBD every few weeks

– 33.2% only use CBD infrequently

Comparison to the American market

There are no exact, direct comparison sets of data to use when judging the differences between American and European CBD use patterns. In 2020, however, New Frontier Data released a report³ that provides roughly comparable results, but in regards to American CBD users:

– 21% use CBD once or more per day
– 19% use CBD at least once per week
– 17% use CBD at least once per month
– 18% use CBD every few weeks
– 25% only use CBD infrequently

At a glance, more American CBD users enjoy the cannabinoid on a daily basis in the United States, and fewer use CBD infrequently. The Prohibition Partners splits respondents into six cohorts while the New Frontier report only has five, so the results are not directly comparable.

It’s also worth noting that the European data provided by Prohibition Partners is three years newer than Frontier’s American results. If recent trends are any consideration, it’s almost a certainty that CBD has reached considerably greater acceptance in the United States over the last three years.

What CBD use frequency means

In big-picture terms, how does CBD use frequency translate into overall sales and market growth? Put as simply as possible, the more CBD people use, the more they will buy. CBD use frequency is, therefore, one of the key drivers supporting overall CBD market growth, which is, in turn, the primary determiner of profit capacity.

How frequently a single CBD user repurchases the cannabinoid has little impact on the future of a region’s cannabinoid industry. If all CBD users in a given region repurchase cannabinoid products at a considerably greater rate, however, growth of the CBD industry in that region will swell rapidly.

Making CBD an integral product

The goal, then, is to help European CBD customers catch up to American use frequency. Inherent cultural differences may make exact equity in this regard impossible, but there are certainly effective methods for gently encouraging Europeans to use CBD more often:

Express the benefits

Despite their origination in Eurasia, cannabis and cannabinoids are often seen as an American phenomenon in Europe. Predominantly culturally conservative throughout America’s mid-century transformation, Europeans have traditionally held a skeptical view toward cannabis.

Today, individuals marketing CBD in both regions might find Europeans at once more skeptical and less educated regarding CBD. That’s a reflection of the relative lack of prevalence of CBD in Europe combined with a culture that still largely views anything that comes out of cannabis as a drug.

It is very important, as a result, to express all the benefits of CBD to Europeans with the utmost clarity — especially the cannabinoid’s lack of intoxicating properties.

Explain superiority over competing products

As once was (and, in some ways, still is) the case in the United States, many Europeans simply don’t understand why they should use CBD instead of ibuprofen, melatonin, or other non-prescription products they rely on daily. Europeans are even more enthusiastic about natural and organic products than Americans, though, making it imperative to point out how CBD is an all-natural, plant-derived substance that interacts with your system gently and mildly.

Stress affordability

CBD has something unavoidable going against it in Europe — socialized medicine. In many European countries, pharmaceutical medications are free to the consumer (or nearly so) while CBD products are usually only purchasable out of pocket.

Europeans must, therefore, be convinced that CBD is superior enough to their existing medical and relaxation solutions to be worthy of the increased cost. As long as it is done delicately, you can even use CBD’s outlier status to your advantage by pointing out that it simply is not available through government-subsidized means of acquisition.

Normalize European CBD

Perhaps, in the end, much of the reticence Europeans have shown towards CBD comes from a feeling of lack of ownership. CBD is a seemingly American phenomenon, and they aren’t sure if they should partake.

The brands that succeed in Europe will be those that make CBD European. When it comes to CBD, Europeans don’t want the unfamiliar and the different. They want safety, affordability, and reliability.

Understanding and respecting the European market

It is a distinctly American mistake to assume that cultural values in Europe and America are the same. On the whole, Europeans are proud of their often-ancient cultures and aren’t keen to be lectured on the art of life by those from relatively newer societies, such as the United States.

When the benefits of CBD are expressed to Europeans, it should be done so in the same way you would tell a friend who has been away about recent developments at home. Friendliness goes a long way, but assuming too much will turn a friendly Euro encounter into unexpected culture shock.

As an example of how to set the proper mood, keep in mind that the Cannabis sativa plant itself originated in Eurasia. People of the Old World have been cultivating and preparing cannabis in extracts for uncounted millennia.

Just because contemporary Americans have learned how to isolate and industrialize cannabinoids does not make cannabis any less a plant of European heritage. Today’s Europeans might simply be reminded that many great powers must break away from their points of origin to reach full fruition — powers, perhaps, even as great as cannabis and its priceless cask of cannabinoids.


1. Hasse, J. (2019, May 23). This EU Country Has Become The First To Allow Free Sale Of CBD. Forbes.

2. The European CBD Report: Health & Wellness | Reports | Prohibition Partners. (2023, February 10). Prohibition Partners.

3. New Frontier. (n.d.). 2020 U.S. CBD Report.

Oral CBD vs. Topical CBD: Which Administration Method is Best for You?

There are many ways to take CBD. Two administration methods, though, have become more popular than all the rest: oral ingestion and topical application.

This pair of approaches to using CBD are vastly different, but they’re also more similar than they might seem at first. In this guide, we’ll uncover the differences between oral and topical CBD administration, examining everything from product types to proper dosage and safety.

CBD usage methods: An overview

– CBD (cannabidiol) is a lipid compound unique to Cannabis sativa
– On its own, CBD-rich hemp flower extract offers little absorption either orally or topically
– Orally, CBD extract is usually accompanied by a carrier oil
– Topically, CBD extract is mixed into either oil-based or water-based formulations
– Other methods of ingesting exist, but oral and topical administration remain the most common
– Oral CBD administration offers diffused, body-wide benefits
– Topical CBD administration offers pinpoint effects in a target area
– The two administration methods are often used in tandem since they cover different ground
– There does not appear to be any scientific reason to not use oral and topical CBD together

Oral CBD

Most substances are taken orally. In this way, CBD is no different.

What sometimes takes shoppers by surprise, though, is the sheer number of ways you can take CBD orally. From tinctures to gummies to capsules, the options sometimes seem endless.

Taken orally, the effects of CBD aren’t as strong in specific areas. Instead, CBD disperses through your body, offering subtler but systemic effects. As internally ingested substances, the bulk of CBD safety concerns center around oral CBD products.


The three main categories of orally ingested CBD products are tinctures (oils/drops), capsules (soft gels), and edibles (gummies, cookies, etc.). CBD can also be infused into tablets, mints, or even chewing gum, but these product categories are not as popular.

There is vast product variation within the oral CBD market. You’ll find the same to be true, though, of the topical CBD industry.


Oral CBD products have excellent overall effectiveness but low effectiveness at specific pain points. Despite being filtered out by the digestive system, CBD is relatively effective at uptaking into your bloodstream. Effects are dispersed relatively equally throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems.

Activation time

Orally ingested CBD generally takes around 30 minutes to reach peak effectiveness. Activation can be accelerated somewhat by allowing oral CBD products to remain in the mouth prior to swallowing, called sublingual administration.

Effect duration

The effects of orally ingested CBD last for around 2-3 hours, which is somewhat dependent on the dose. Oral CBD rarely provides effects lasting more than four hours regardless of the dosage used.

Area of effect

CBD affects most areas of the body roughly equally when ingested orally. As with all substances, though, increased blood flow leads to higher deposits of CBD in organs like the brain, heart, and liver. The effects of oral CBD might be felt stronger mentally, therefore, than they are physically.

Product quality

While it’s a priority in all CBD products, safety and quality are an even greater concern in internal CBD products. Oral ingestion can make incredible demands of the body — in the case of toxic substances or contaminants, the body is forced to contend with something that can harm it. Establishing safety with lab reports and proper production procedures is tantamount for oral CBD products.


In studies¹, oral CBD has been determined to remain safe in doses of 1500mg per day or more. It appears that oral CBD is at least comparable in safety to many alternative treatments and may, in fact, boast a higher safety profile.

Oral CBD can present safety concerns when used in conjunction with other substances². Cannabinoids do not cause negative interactions among themselves, but CBD can interfere with drugs accompanied by “grapefruit warnings” — consult with a doctor before using CBD if you are currently using any medications.

Topical CBD

CBD is unusually popular as a topical ingredient. Prior to the advent of topical CBD products, in fact, administering natural substances via the skin wasn’t seen as being so widely viable. CBD has helped refocus the entire natural health industry on topicals, and it has become the star ingredient of many products that previously featured alternative substances.

It’s now common to find CBD right alongside arnica, capsaicin, menthol, and other ingredients that have been the staples of the natural topical industry since its inception. In many cases, CBD has displaced products featuring these suddenly antiquated ingredients, incentivizing brands to adopt the ingredient out of self-defense.


Topical CBD products can generally be divided into oil-based and water-based formulations. Water-based CBD topicals offer better absorption times and rates, but they are finicky to formulate and can be susceptible to fungal contamination.

Oil-based topicals, on the other hand, are naturally antimicrobial and are comparatively simple to develop. Adding CBD to oil-based topical blends is generally a straightforward process that does not require all the delicate balancing and testing necessary with water-based CBD topicals.

Examples of water-based CBD topicals are:

– Lotions
– Creams
– Serums

Examples of oil-based CBD topicals are:

– Balms
– Salves
– Rubs


A well-formulated CBD topical can be highly effective in the area of administration. CBD topicals do not have widespread effects, however, even when effective transdermal absorption is achieved. Effects remain localized, which can be recognized as a highly useful benefit when viewed reasonably.

Activation time

Water-based CBD topicals generally activate within 1-5 minutes. Oil-based CBD topicals take longer to activate, and they have reduced overall activation. They generally reach peak effectiveness after around 10-15 minutes.

Effect duration

CBD topicals have widely varying durations of effectivity. If allowed to remain on the skin, oil-based topicals can sometimes offer effects that last 6-12 hours. Water-based CBD topicals, however, generally fully absorb and dissipate within 3-5 hours or so.

Area of effect

CBD topicals are very different from oral CBD products in that they only affect a limited, specific area.

Product quality

In CBD topicals, quality is mainly a determiner of effectiveness rather than a defense against contamination. CBD topicals are just as prone to contamination as oral CBD products, but contaminants generally exert less toxicity topically since they are not internally ingested. A topical containing CBD will not be effective, though, unless it is formulated expertly — usually entailing an extensive R&D process unless existing expertise is utilized.


CBD inherently presents reduced safety concerns when applied topically versus internally. In topicals, though, CBD is rarely alone as an active ingredient — be aware of potential allergies to substances included in tandem with CBD in topical formulations.

Oral vs. topical CBD

To better understand the differences between oral and topical CBD formulations, let’s compare them side by side:


Under conventional considerations, oral CBD products would naturally be considered the most potent. Topical CBD may offer greater experienced potency, however, for some purposes due to its area-specific effects. The general absorption rate of oral CBD has been established scientifically, but the rate of absorption of topical CBD has not³, making the two categories difficult to compare based on the data alone.

Product variation

Oral CBD is divided into a wider range of categories covering a greater breadth of product sub-types — tinctures, gummies, capsules, etcetera. Topical CBD exhibits variation, though, in the dichotomy between oil-based and water-based formulations. Albeit in different ways, the two categories are roughly equally variated.


The application methods used for oral and topical CBD are too different to be directly compared. Furthermore, these two product types are not even used for the same purposes: Oral CBD is designed to offer a systemic effect while topical CBD is designed to offer its effects locally.


Dosage considerations for oral and topical CBD are very different. With oral CBD, daily doses between 50-200mg are considered to be normal. Safe doses of topical CBD have not been established, but topical CBD is usually offered in lower doses overall. An average dose of CBD cream might contain as little as 5mg CBD while oral CBD is usually ingested in doses of at least 20mg.

Oral CBD & topical CBD pros and cons

As we start wrapping up, let’s summarize our previous findings in a simplified list of pros and cons:

Oral CBD pros

– System-wide effects
– Well-tolerated in most users
– Relatively fast onset when sublingually administered
– Many different product types

Oral CBD cons

– Not excellent for targeting specific areas
– CBD tinctures can be messy
– Oral CBD always takes at least a little while to kick in

Topical CBD pros

– Excellent localized effects
– Water-based and oil-based topicals to choose from
– Very rapid onset, especially with water-based formulations
– Less risk of drug interaction

Topical CBD cons

– No system-wide effects
– Vast differences between products require shopper education
– Some CBD topical formulations are simply poorly made

Topical vs. oral CBD: The bottom line

When putting together a product line, it’s most important to recognize that oral and topical CBD products usually complement each other. The two product types are not mutually exclusive and, in fact, fill each other’s gaps in many significant ways.

Oral CBD products, for instance, make up for the lack of body-wide effects which is one of the major detractors of topical CBD. On the flip side, topical CBD products provide greater CBD uptake in specific areas, much to the relief of shoppers who did not experience the desired results with oral CBD alone.

The synergy between oral and topical CBD products mirrors the synergy found in the cannabis plant itself. Cannabinoids and other components of Cannabis sativa appear nearly designed to interact positively with each other — a theme of cooperation that expresses itself unexpectedly in many corners of the cannabis world.

Comprehensive cannabinoid product lines feature the full complement of product types a shopper is likely to desire. A single cannabinoid product cannot do it all on its own. Combined, though, oral and topical CBD products can provide for nearly all of the needs of an average cannabinoid shopper.

Users of CBD simply ask themselves: Do I want to experience CBD in a particular place, throughout my body, or both? More often than not, the answer ends up being “both.”


1. Larsen, C. P., & Shahinas, J. (2020d). Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials. Journal of Clinical Medicine Research, 12(3), 129–141.

2. Balachandran, P., ElSohly, M. A., & Hill, K. D. (2021b). Cannabidiol Interactions with Medications, Illicit Substances, and Alcohol: a Comprehensive Review. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 36(7), 2074–2084.

3. Millar, S. A., Stone, N., Yates, A. S., & O’Sullivan, S. E. (2018). A Systematic Review on the Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol in Humans. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 9.

CBD for Pets vs. Humans: Differences in Products and Dosages

Just like humans, most pets are equipped with endogenous systems designed to handle cannabinoids. That doesn’t mean, though, that CBD products for pets and humans are exactly the same.

In most cases, there’s no danger in using a CBD product that isn’t explicitly designed for your species. Man and beast alike, though, both benefit from using the products that are best for them. In this guide, learn the differences between CBD products made for pets and humans, and find out how to correctly determine CBD dosage in any animal.

CBD use in mammals

As a class of animals, all mammals are equipped with endocannabinoid systems. This is an endogenous system of neuroreceptors and signaling compounds that mainly processes body-generated, cannabinoid-like substances like anandamide¹.

When mammals ingest cannabinoids, their endocannabinoid systems are activated, leading to a relatively typical response across species. Of course, peculiarities of biology vary between mammals, leading to commensurately varied responses. Overall, though, all mammals are equipped with roughly similar systems for handling cannabinoids, usually making it acceptable to share these unique cannabis compounds with pets.

CBD use in humans

The safety² and basic usage parameters³ of CBD in humans are now reasonably well understood. Scientists have been gathering evidence regarding the usefulness of CBD in humans for more than 70 years, and this research has accelerated massively in the era of the online CBD industry.

Put simply, most people can tolerate reasonable doses of CBD reasonably well. Initial research indicates that CBD remains well-tolerated in excess of 1500mg per day, which is the average dose contained in an entire CBD tincture product.

Overall, CBD usage in humans does not appear to pose any considerable danger, and it may offer impressive benefits. Our understanding of the usefulness of CBD in humans has helped us better understand how this substance might also be of use in other animals.

CBD use in pets

Noting the effectiveness they experienced when using CBD, owners began giving CBD to their pets. Almost immediately, hundreds of pet owners took to social media and product review pages to rave about the incredible results they’d witnessed in their animals.

Dogs with anxiety could now be left alone, remaining relaxed when their owners returned home. Neurotic cats would finally leave heat spots alone. Some pets even seemingly defied serious illnesses, securing markedly improved quality of life.

Not all pets react to CBD the same, however, and all pets handle CBD at least a little bit differently than humans.

CBD use in non-mammal animals

Cannabis researchers have concluded that some form of an endocannabinoid system exists in every animal on earth except insects and protozoa⁴. This means birds, lizards, and even fish have endocannabinoid systems that might be impacted by CBD usage. The overall physiology of non-mammal animals is so different, however, that it would be prudent to consult with a veterinarian before going any further.

Types of CBD products for humans

The human-oriented face of the CBD industry has recently consolidated into a handful of popular product types. Alongside tinctures and capsules, which have always enjoyed roughly the same degree of relative popularity, CBD shoppers have welcomed edibles like gummies and topicals like lotions or salves. We’ll discuss each of the major types of CBD products used with humans below:


Also known as CBD oils, CBD tinctures are the original products — they’re what made CBD popular, and they still serve as the backbone of the modern hemp industry. Shoppers love the simplicity of ingredients and pinpoint dosing offered by tinctures.


CBD topicals have primarily become popular among two groups of customers — people managing chronic pain and those focused on preserving beauty or preventing aging. Over the last decade, chronic pain sufferers have looked on with guarded hope as thousands of testimonials to the pain-fighting efficacy of CBD appeared online.

More recently, the apparent antioxidant benefits of CBD have attracted the attention of beauty-focused individuals as well. CBD facial serums and moisturizers have proliferated particularly well, and while sometimes admittedly overpriced, cannabinoid-infused cosmetic products appear to have genuine benefits.


In recent years, CBD edibles like gummies have shot ahead to become some of the most popular online cannabinoid products. It’s unclear why it took so long for this product category to reach its full potential, but whatever the case may be, shoppers now flock to the delicious convenience of CBD gummies and similar edibles, which cover up the taste of hemp oil while also making every dose of cannabinoids into a sweet treat.


CBD capsules remain popular even though gummies now also present a viable alternative to tinctures. For some, the advantages of CBD capsules remain unassailed: The ingredients are as simple as possible, there are no spikes in blood sugar to worry about, and taking CBD is just as easy as taking any other daily pill. Cannabinoid capsules are nothing fancy, but that’s precisely the point.


There are two primary ways that people inhale CBD: vaping and smoking. Vaping is when you vaporize cannabinoids before inhalation with a device such as a vape cartridge or disposable vape pen. Smoking is a more-familiar practice that involves fully incinerating cannabinoid-bearing plant material prior to inhalation. Noting that both methods of using cannabinoids are currently untested.

Types of CBD products for pets

Now that we’ve covered the primary ways humans use CBD, it’s time to turn to the methods chosen for their pets;


Just as is the case with humans, tinctures are the most popular CBD product given to pets. This approach might seem like quite the undertaking, but owners have developed a variety of ways to give pets tinctures orally:

  • Simply holding the mouth and facilitating swallowing
  • Adding the tincture to food
  • Allowing it to absorb into a treat
  • Dosing the dog while asleep


Pets are like humans in that some conditions are best treated topically. In the case of heat spots, for instance, some owners apply CBD lotions or salves directly to the affected area. Of course, applying CBD topicals becomes much more difficult in situations where fur is still present.


Humans have edibles, pets have treats. CBD-infused dog treats are all the rage among owners these days, and CBD treats for cats are also catching on. Chances are that if there’s a pet, there’s a CBD product that has been designed with its species in mind.

Infused toys

If you look hard enough, you’ll come across CBD-infused chew toys for dogs sold online. These products are invariably of questionable quality and safety, though, and serve more of a novelty function rather than providing any genuine value. It is advised to consult with a veterinarian prior to giving this product to your pet.

CBD dosage in humans

Giving CBD to humans and pets isn’t exactly the same. Below, we’ll start by taking a look at proper dosing considerations in humans and then move on to pets.

Average dosing by weight

There is no universally determined ideal daily dose of CBD by weight. It has been suggested, though, that a daily range of 1-50mg/kg (milligrams-per-kilograms) of CBD is acceptable with an ideal daily range sitting somewhere closer to the 1-3mg/kg mark.

For context, an average adult male weighs around 60kg and a female weighs around 50kg. As a result, an ideal daily dose of CBD in males may range anywhere from 60-180mg while an ideal dose in women would be 50-150mg. Keep in mind that it appears this recommendation can normally be exceeded by at least ten times without noticing any significant deleterious effects.

Special considerations

When determining ideal CBD dosing in humans, conflicts with other substances and medications must be kept in mind. While not usually dangerous, CBD competes for enzymes used to metabolize many common drugs — usually drugs that come with a “grapefruit warning.”

If using drugs that conflict with CBD, lower doses may be recommended, or it may be recommended that CBD not be used at all. Human users of CBD should seek medical consultation before and while using the cannabinoid.

CBD dosage in pets

CBD dosing in pets is more difficult to determine specifically given the vast differences between domesticated animal species. We can discuss generally, though, the considerations that should be taken when determining CBD dosing in animals.

Average dosing by weight

Very little research has been conducted into ideal CBD dosing in animals, but one study⁵ in dogs and cats concluded that daily doses of 2mg/kg might be appropriate. Given the smaller size of most pets compared to humans, the overall daily dose will be much smaller.

At 2mg/kg, for instance, the average cat (4kg) would only need 8mg CBD per day. A small dog (10kg) would need 20mg, a medium dog (20kg) would need 40mg, and a large dog (30kg+) would need 60mg or more daily.

Special considerations

The physiology of each pet kept by humans is different. Products or usage recommendations that hold true for one pet should not be assumed to also be true for a pet of a different species or even of a different breed.

It is highly recommended that owners consult with a trusted veterinarian before choosing a CBD product or establishing a dosage schedule for their pets. Professional assistance may be even more useful in this regard than it is when determining accurate CBD dosing in humans.

Pet & human CBD: More similar than different

For the average, skeptical consumer, two questions come to mind when confronted with the idea of giving CBD to their pets. One, is this just a fad or gimmick? And two, how do I know that giving my pet CBD is safe?

It’s a fundamental truth that human biology differs from animal biology. Even given the massive differences in the way these genes are expressed, though, there’s hardly any difference between the genetic codes of most animals on Earth.

The fact that we all have endocannabinoid systems should make us feel closer to our furry, feathery, and even scaly friends. Human beings may have been the ones to discover CBD, but it’s pertinent that we extend the potential benefits of this compound to our fellow animals, now that the knowledge about its effects is widely available.


1. Scherma, M., Masia, P., Satta, V., Fratta, W., Fadda, P., & Tanda, G. (2019). Brain activity of anandamide: a rewarding bliss? Acta Pharmacologica Sinica, 40(3), 309–323.

2. Larsen, C. P., & Shahinas, J. (2020b). Dosage, Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol Administration in Adults: A Systematic Review of Human Trials. Journal of Clinical Medicine Research, 12(3), 129–141.

3. Argueta, D. A., Ventura, C. M., Kiven, S. B., Sagi, V., & Gupta, K. (2020). A Balanced Approach for Cannabidiol Use in Chronic Pain. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 11.

4. Silver, R. M. (2019). The Endocannabinoid System of Animals. Animals, 9(9), 686.

5. Deabold, K. A., Schwark, W. S., Wolf, L. A., & Wakshlag, J. J. (2019). Single-Dose Pharmacokinetics and Preliminary Safety Assessment with Use of CBD-Rich Hemp Nutraceutical in Healthy Dogs and Cats. Animals, 9(10), 832.

How to Build A Cannabinoid Pet Brand in 2023

When CBD pet products first appeared on the market, brands faced heavy skepticism as they attempted to explain why CBD is useful for pets. Over the last decade, however, pet CBD products have sporadically gained popularity, sometimes boasting massive 1,000% year-over-year gains.

These days, the CBD pet industry is valued at over half a billion dollars, making it one of the largest and fastest-growing CBD product subcategories. As 2023 unfolds, new opportunities and challenges will appear for brands that are active in the pet CBD space.

Leveraging the latest data from Statista, we can identify the subset of consumers that are most likely to buy CBD pet products and also understand what their ideal CBD pet products look like. From there, it’s just a matter of adapting to the times to offer a pet product line that offers maximum value with minimum drawbacks.

In this guide, we’ll examine the incredible growth the CBD pet category has experienced recently, and we’ll help you understand where and how these products are gaining traction. By the end, you’ll know exactly what 2023’s consumers want in hemp products for pets and how to offer it.

Who buys CBD products?

Whenever it’s time to determine how to market a certain type of product, there are a few steps a brand should take. The first step is finding out who already buys that product. In the case of CBD pet products, the answers are easy to find thanks to a March 2021 shopper survey¹ published on Statista.

This survey of more than 1,500 respondents sought to determine where people who buy CBD pet products live. Categories of communities included major cities, suburbs, and small towns.

Even though pet ownership is relatively evenly distributed geographically, the Statista survey found that a disproportionate number of CBD pet product purchasers lived in cities. Due to the confluence of a variety of factors, it appears that urbanites are far more likely to buy CBD pet products than residents of small towns and suburbs.

Pet health as a cosmopolitan concern

These statistical results make sense. City-dwellers are often more affluent and socially plugged in, allowing pricier trends like CBD to catch on more easily. 

While rural shoppers might also be open to buying CBD products for their pets, they lack the opportunities for exposure to CBD pet products that urbanites enjoy. One way to counter this trend would be to specifically target rural communities in educational social media campaigns accompanying CBD pet product launches.

There’s also the well-understood fact that people who live in cities are just more likely to closely follow trends. While attempting to widen the market for CBD pet products beyond major cities, it’s also important to avoid alienating your urban residents.

What do pet owners want in CBD products?

Even before CBD became a subject patient felt comfortable discussing with their own physicians, veterinarians had already begun opening up to the potential benefits that CBD treats and oils might be able to offer to cats, dogs, and other pets. It should come as no surprise then, that it’s still common for pet owners to discuss CBD with their vets before giving the cannabinoid to their pets for the first time.

According to the results of another Statista survey² (conducted in cooperation with Brightfield Group), pet owners have a common set of concerns they frequently bring up in the vet’s office. Chief among these concerns appears to be the safety of CBD, which was the most popular topic for pet owners to bring up with their vets when considering the cannabinoid for their pets.

Owners also wanted to know how likely CBD was to help their pets, and they sought clarity from their vets regarding proper CBD dosage for animals. Another hot topic was the different types of CBD products that are available and how well they work for certain types of animals.


CBD is widely represented as safe, but it’s clear that pet owners want to confirm this with their vets before proceeding. One way to help pet owners feel comfortable with your products before they resort to taking them to their vet’s office is providing abundant safety information on the product’s label and online.


When consulting their veterinarians, pet owners want to make sure CBD will work. As long as you don’t overdo it, this is your call to make sure your CBD pet products contain a reasonable, effective dose of CBD. Even for a cat or dog, a dose of less than 5mg CBD might fail to deliver the desired effects.


Even though they ask their veterinarians about this topic commonly, there aren’t many clear answers regarding the proper dosage of CBD for animals. One of the best ways to account for the current lack of hard research regarding effective dosage of CBD in animals is to provide products that are potent but easy to break into smaller portions. An example is a 10mg CBD dog biscuit that features indentations allowing the pet owner to break it into four smaller 2.5mg portions.

Product Type

There’s no wrong answer when it comes to which CBD product type is best for pets. CBD-infused pet treats and CBD tinctures designed for pets are the most popular options to be sure, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only CBD pet product categories worthy of your consideration.

Some pets might prefer for CBD oil to be added to their food, but others might like CBD treats best. There may be even more pet-favorite CBD product types that simply haven’t been explored properly yet.

Is pet CBD popular?

There’s a reason brands and investors are leaning so heavily into the pet side of the CBD industry. While CBD products designed for humans continue to gain impressive popularity year-over-year, pet CBD has exhibited the greatest breakthrough success in recent years, sometimes boasting nearly unbelievable gains.

According to a Statista survey³ published in November 2022, for instance, sales of pet CBD products in the United States grew tenfold between 2018 and 2019. What began as a market only worth a few million dollars in 2017 was estimated to appreciate to over $500 million in 2021, which is a remarkable rate of growth even for the CBD industry.

10x year-over-year category growth

How was it possible for CBD pet products to display such rapid, voluminous growth? The ten-times increase that CBD pet products displayed between 2018 and 2019 might be partially attributed to the breakout success that sometimes occurs when a previously unknown product type enters the mainstream.

CBD pet products haven’t displayed such prodigious year-over-year growth again, but the category continues to outpace many other types of CBD products, indicating that the CBD pet market is far from tapped.

$560 million in 2021

At just over half a billion dollars, it’s not as if CBD pet products contribute massively to the overall CBD economy. Still, that’s not a figure brands should ignore if they’re seeking ways to diversify and reach a wider subset of shoppers. As the CBD industry grows, CBD pet products will grow along with it. 

Guide to selling pet CBD in 2023

Now that you’re aware of the potential waiting to be fulfilled within the CBD pet industry, let’s shift to some practical tips you can use to formulate winning pet CBD products in 2023 and beyond. Below, we’ll list out six specific steps you can take to optimize or launch your line of CBD pet products:

1. Focus on urban priorities

It’s a bald fact that half of CBD pet product purchasers live in big cities. While it would be a mistake to generalize too broadly, it’s common sense that urbanites tend to be more experimentative with new health and wellness trends.

Right now, people everywhere are rightly concerned about the toxins present in the food they eat and the supplements they take. Given that pets are often considered to be just as important as people in today’s city societies, it’s natural that informed urbanites want the products they give their cats and dogs to be just as safe and pure as the products they themselves consume.

If your pet products still contain any ingredients that previously passed muster because they were intended for the animal instead of human consumption, now is a great time to observe the priorities of your target audience and adapt your products accordingly. Urban pet CBD shoppers aren’t afraid to pay a little bit more for products they’re sure are safe.

2. Showcase safety

You can relate to shoppers that your products are safe in a variety of ways, starting with clear and effective labeling. Stick with an easy-to-read theme, and use small icons and symbols that shoppers already associate with desired attributes like “organic” and “non-GMO.”

Today’s educated urban consumers want to be able to research products they’re considering buying on the internet. Make sure the online information accompanying your product is thorough, professional, and easy to find.

Lab reports can help relate to shoppers that your products are potent and toxin-free, but some of the most-educated CBD consumers now know enough to ask where the CBD extract in their products came from as well. That’s when it can be useful to be able to tell extra-inquisitive customers that you sourced your CBD from a professional, certified lab.

3. Respect the importance of dosage

Recent statistical data show that pet CBD shoppers are concerned with giving the right dose of CBD to their cats and dogs. As it is in humans, CBD appears to be quite safe in other mammals, but still, it can’t be helped that shoppers want to know exactly how much CBD they’re giving their pets.

They also want to be sure the amount of CBD they’re giving their pets isn’t harmful, which is where gentle education regarding the interspecies safety of CBD as a compound can come in. It’s important to accommodate this trend primarily, however, by making it easy for pet owners to use your products to give their pets exact doses of CBD.

4. Differentiate within a growing category

Over the last few years, pet CBD underwent the massive, ballooning growth that has occurred at one time or another in every other CBD product subcategory. Now that the market is approaching saturation, however, it’s important to anticipate a more-competitive future environment in which proper diversification will be necessary to ensure that your CBD pet products stand out.

Simply focusing on organic purity, for instance, can be enough to make your product noticeable to shoppers — and in a genuine way that imparts real value.

5. Demand professional formulation

Achieving optimum quality with CBD products isn’t easy. Hemp extract is inherently a tricky substance to work with, and shoppers increasingly demand higher and higher standards of safety and purity.

If you attempt to make CBD pet products in your own facilities, you won’t be able to compete with larger operators that have the resources to invest in better equipment and advanced processes. Since purchasing CBD from a bulk producer is often less expensive than making it yourself, the choice here is clear.

There’s a massive disparity even between large-scale CBD producers, though. Make sure to choose a producer that proactively seeks out all available certifications and properly prioritizes transparency.

6. Anticipate massive growth

Lastly, don’t forget that pet CBD remains one of the fastest-growing CBD subcategories, and it will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. There are still plenty of pet owners who would buy CBD if they were educated on its benefits and came across the right product.

When formulating your CBD pet line, focus on the universal appeal that’s necessary to allow a product to become popular. Even though it’s taking hold in the cities first, pet CBD is gradually becoming mainstream. The products that survive the test of time will be those that seamlessly blend the priorities of urbanites with the universally accessible benefits that will be demanded of the future’s pet CBD.

Summary: Cannabinoid pet products in 2023

While 2019 may have been the year that pet CBD broke through to the surface, 2023 could prove to be the year that the CBD pet product phenomenon becomes fully mainstream. Purchases of pet CBD products may be slanted toward cities for now, but people everywhere are talking about CBD with their vets, and the pet CBD submarket gets closer to an inevitable $1 billion valuation every day.

To make sure your pet CBD products are successful in 2023 and the years beyond, position yourself as an assistant in the ambassadorship urbanites always display toward rural residents. Trends that start in the cities inevitably make their way into the countryside, so it’s only a matter of time before rural owners start giving their pets CBD in greater numbers.

Even though organic product purity isn’t as much of a concern for rural shoppers, they’ll accept the same products that have been presented to urbanites due to the naturally downstream position of rural culture from city culture. Wherever they live, what everyone appreciates is clear, informative product labeling. If rural shoppers are provided with everything they need to know about CBD pet products, they won’t be so concerned if the subtler attributes of a particular product differ from their exact preferences.

It’s a scientific fact that nearly all animals have endocannabinoid systems, meaning they’re biochemically compatible with the benefits cannabinoids like CBD have to offer. Never forget as well that the endocannabinoid system encompasses much more than just CBD — not even hardly explored yet is the wide world of potential lying in wait for CBN, CBG, and CBDV pet products.


  1. 1. Statista. (2021, October 19). Breakdown of U.S. pet owners who used pet CBD products in 2021, by residential area.
  2. 2. Statista. (2021b, October 19). Topics pet CBD users discuss with vets in the United States in 2021.
  3. 3. Statista. (2022d, November 16). CBD pet product market size in the U.S. 2017-2021.

Which CBD Consumption Method is Best for You?

One of the first things shoppers notice is that there are lots of different ways to use CBD. Unlike familiar off-the-shelf drugs, which often times come in only one form, CBD is available in a seemingly endless myriad of forms, all with their own benefits and detractors.

Sorting through the various CBD administration methods is essential for producers and consumers alike. Knowledge regarding the various approaches to CBD consumption makes it possible for producers to make high-quality products, and it helps shoppers make educated product choices.

In this guide, we’ll compare and contrast the different ways you can use CBD to determine which option is ideal for your circumstances. By the end, you’ll be well-versed on the unique pros and cons of each major CBD administration method.

How to consume cannabinoids: An overview

– Cannabinoids like CBD are usually consumed orally in tinctures or gummies

– Restricted cannabinoids like THC are usually consumed in flower, but that’s changing

– CBD topicals are also remarkably popular, but for different purposes than internals

– Some methods of administering CBD kick in faster than others… and some last longer than others

– The way you use CBD can also have an impact on effects and drug testing

– In total, there are dozens of ways to use CBD

– Only a few methods are in common usage, though

What types of cannabinoid products are there?

To understand how to use cannabinoid products, it’s first essential to understand the differences between the various types of cannabinoid products that are available. Here’s a brief overview of the five major types:

Tinctures (oils)

The first type of CBD product to become popular, tinctures are orally administered and usually consist of just CBD extract combined with a carrier oil. Certain flavoring ingredients are also acceptable, but be on the lookout for cutting agents and other unnecessary ingredients¹. Shoppers like the convenience and pinpoint dosage control offered by CBD tinctures.


Gummies and related edibles have recently shot ahead to become some of the most popular CBD products on the market. There is a massive disparity in quality and effectiveness between the various CBD gummy products available online and in stores. Most consumers prefer gummy products that fulfill their primary task of masking the taste of hemp oil without resorting to unhealthy or low-quality ingredients.


Capsules remain very popular among CBD users, primarily fueled by this product type’s special brand of no-nonsense effectiveness. People are used to taking pills, so adding a CBD pill into the mix doesn’t fundamentally alter their daily routines. What capsules lack in pizazz they make up for in reliability and a pointed lack of frills.


If capsules are austere, topicals are ostentatious. Often packed with ingredients designed to merely emit a pleasant aroma, CBD topicals can be tricky to formulate — especially when water-based. Shoppers with chronic pain concerns swear by the effectiveness of CBD lotions and balms, though, and those with beauty in mind are commonly impressed by the apparently protective properties of facial CBD topicals like serums and moisturizers.


Challenging in numerous ways, inhaled CBD products like flower and vapes are nonetheless proliferating across the internet and on the shelves of brick-and-mortar retailers. Offering the fastest effects, inhaled CBD nonetheless peters out quickly. CBD flower and vapes are also subject to unique legal and regulatory concerns², curtailing the expansion of this industry sub-segment.


There are many other types of CBD products as well — from nasal sprays to suppositories. These products make up very tiny segments of the overall CBD market, though. For the most part, the industry remains roughly divided between tinctures, gummies, capsules, and topicals.

How can you consume each cannabinoid product?

Now, we’ll look deeper into each method used to consume the cannabinoid products we just explored:

Oral ingestion

The majority of cannabinoid product types are orally ingested. After all, the three most popular cannabinoid products are all ingested using this route — tinctures, gummies, and capsules.

This ingestion method offers long-lasting effects at relatively low efficiency. All substances that are orally ingested are filtered by the digestive tract, reducing their potency considerably. Nonetheless, the convenience of use and duration of effects of oral ingestion rank it highest among cannabinoid consumption options. 

Sublingual administration

Sublingual administration is a variation of oral administration involving the application of substances under the tongue. In the case of CBD, this administration method mostly applies to tinctures and gummies, which can be held in the mouth prior to swallowing.

Oral administration can be boosted with sublingual administration, which allows a small portion of the CBD contained in a tincture or gummy to absorb under the tongue. Sublingual administration is most effective with tinctures but applies in any situation involving CBD being held in the mouth.

Topical administration

CBD can also be applied topically, and the most common types of CBD topicals are water-based pain lotions, oil-based balms, and CBD beauty products. When formulated correctly, CBD topicals can penetrate the skin, delivering effects deep into underlying muscular tissue.

Topical administration, however, does not provide any systemic benefit — the effects are experienced locally instead of dispersed throughout the body. Also, contamination can be an issue with topicals given the plenitude of ingredients used and the constant threat of mold in water-based formulations.


CBD vapes and flower are inhaled, offering near-instant effects but posing the greatest risk. CBD can also be insufflated in the form of an inhaler, but CBD inhalers are very uncommon.

When inhaled, the effects of CBD come on fast and intensely. However, they only last around 30-60 minutes. Also, the overall safety of inhaling cannabinoid smoke or vapor remains unknown.


Technically, CBD can be consumed via practically any conceivable administration method — suppositories, eyedrops, eardrops, lip balms, adhesive patches, etcetera. Only a few of the available methods have been widely adopted, though, speaking to the inherent strengths and weaknesses of hemp extract as an ingredient.

Cannabinoid administration methods compared

To sum up our findings so far, we’ll point out the most important pros and cons of the four major methods of CBD consumption we’ve discussed:

Oral ingestion pros

– Simple and familiar

– Many different options

– Sweet gummies, pinpoint tinctures, convenient capsules

– Long-lasting effects

Oral ingestion cons

– Slow activation time

– Product selection can be overwhelming

– Reduced potency due to digestive filtration

Sublingual administration pros

– Applies to most orally ingested CBD products

– Increases efficacy

– Increases activation time

Sublingual administration cons

– Still slower effects than some ingestion methods

– Most of the consumed cannabinoids are still processed by the liver

Topical administration pros

– Potent effects in localized places

– Beloved by shoppers with chronic pain

– High-quality cosmetics also available

– Vast selection

Topical administration cons

– Topicals do not provide body-wide effects

– They have no impact on mood, sleepiness, etc.

Inhalation pros

– Most potent effects

– Fastest activation time

– Many different methods available

Inhalation cons

– The safety of inhaling cannabinoids is unknown

– Distillates used in vapes are prone to solvent contamination

– Hemp flower is prone to pesticide contamination

What is the best cannabinoid administration method for me?

As you can see, there are considerable differences between the various types of cannabinoid products that are available. It is perhaps this feature more than all others that distinguishes the cannabinoid industry from others — you have a nearly endless number of ways to use CBD at your disposal, providing room for both freedom and confusion.

To make it easier for you to select the right type of cannabinoid product for your needs, we’ve come up with a simple questionnaire. Run through the list of questions, and by the end, an ideal product type may have revealed itself:

1. Which is most important in your product: potency, activation time, or flavor?

2. Is your product intended to target pain?

3. Will the product be orally ingested or topically applied?

4. If consumed using a different method, how will the product be consumed?

5. Do you want to mask the taste of hemp oil in your product?

6. Do you want your product to appeal to a younger or older crowd?

These are the types of questions a white label cannabinoid supplier will ask you when beginning a business relationship. Your answers will help you craft a line of cannabinoid products that suits both your goals and the needs of your intended customers.

Many methods, similar goals

This guide has made clear that there are many ways to use CBD. We’ve hardly touched on the full range of options at your disposal, but what all the different ways to use CBD have in common is that they’re designed to provide therapeutic purposes without causing intoxication.

CBD won’t get you high whether you vape it, eat it, or apply it in a topical. This cannabinoid is thoroughly non-intoxicating — that much is known. Just how much CBD might be able to help those in need, however, remains a mystery waiting to be solved.

CBD consumption methods FAQs

Here are a few pieces of the puzzle that might assist in the process of choosing a CBD consumption method:

1. What is the best way to use CBD?

Judging from the numbers alone, taking CBD orally would appear to be the best approach. The majority of CBD products are taken orally, after all, which is a situation that shoppers appear to support wholeheartedly.

Oral consumption isn’t the right choice for every single CBD user, however. Individuals with chronic pain in certain areas of the body, for instance, prefer the area-specific effects of CBD topicals. The needs of specific shopper archetypes must be taken into account when formulating effective CBD products.

2. What type of CBD should a beginner start with?

Those who are unfamiliar with CBD usually start with an orally ingested option like gummies, capsules, or a tincture. Tinctures are the most popular, but gummies might be more suitable for new users due to their palatable flavor. The only circumstance in which a topical might be suitable as a first product is if a shopper has issues with chronic pain in a specific area.

3. Should you take CBD on a full or empty stomach?

The contents of your stomach do not majorly impact the effectiveness of CBD. As with any substance, taking CBD on an empty stomach will result in increased effectiveness, but potentially at the cost of equally increased digestive discomfort. Take CBD on a full stomach if you’re concerned about a negative gastrointestinal reaction.

4. Are water-based or oil-based CBD topicals more effective?

Water-based CBD topicals absorb better, but oil-based topicals stay on the surface of your skin longer. Each CBD topical type may be more effective than the other depending on the circumstances.

5. Is smoking CBD safe?

The safety of smoking CBD in the form of hemp flower has not been established. Limited research³ indicates that higher concentrations of CBD may correlate with reduced harm when smoking cannabis flower, but more studies need to be conducted to derive conclusive results.


1. The Associated Press. (2019, September 16). Investigation finds illegal synthetic marijuana in vape and edible products sold as CBD. CNBC.

2. Kight, R. (2021, January 6). New Law Restricts Online Sales of Hemp and CBD Vapes |. Kight Law.

3. Gibson, L. P., Karoly, H. C., Ellingson, J. M., Klawitter, J., Sempio, C., Squeri, J., Bryan, A. D., Bidwell, L. C., & Hutchison, K. E. (2022). Effects of cannabidiol in cannabis flower: Implications for harm reduction. Addiction Biology, 27(1).

Terpenes vs. Cannabinoids | 2023 Guide

Even casual students of the plant quickly recognize that cannabis is incredibly complex. It is an unusual species among plants, boasting a multitude of peculiar qualities and including a tumultuous mix of both exclusive and widespread compounds.

Nature seems to have had something different in mind with the cannabis plant, and we’re just now beginning to understand how all its different components work together. Most worthy of study are observed interactions between cannabinoids and terpenes, which are only present together in Cannabis sativa.

While we’ll sometimes pit them against each other in this guide, our ultimate goal is to articulate how perfectly terpenes and cannabinoids go together. The chemical complexities of the cannabis plant can take some time to tease apart, but the reward is a fuller understanding of what makes our favorite products so effective.

Chemical composition of cannabis flower: Overview

Let’s begin by summarizing the most important points we will cover in the article:

– Unique within the plant kingdom Cannabis sativa plays host to both terpenes and cannabinoids

– Terpenes are also found abundantly in other sources in nature

– Cannabinoids are only found in cannabis and hemp

– Terpenes and cannabinoids bear many striking similarities

– They also appear to synergize together remarkably well

– Nature seems to have designed cannabinoids and terpenes to be used together

– The best cannabinoid products feature terpenes

– There are considerable variations in quality between terpene products, though

– Understanding the interaction between cannabinoids and terpenes is the key to unlocking the mysteries of cannabis

What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are unique lipid compounds only found in the Cannabis sativa plant. This claim has been disputed from time to time, and it is certainly true that certain cannabinoid mimicking (cannabimimetic) compounds are present in other members of the plant kingdom.

The exact chemical structures of cannabinoids like CBD or CBG, however, have never been found in any non-cannabis plants. These compounds are the primary reason cannabis has been such a fervent target of International research over the last century. Generally speaking, only cannabinoids in the THC family are intoxicating — all others lack notably intoxicating effects.

What do cannabinoids do?

Cannabinoids in the THC family and some others stimulate an endogenous signaling structure spread throughout the human body called the endocannabinoid system. This endocannabinoid system is primarily comprised of neural receptors dubbed CB1 and CB2.

CB1 receptors directly trigger a strong dopamine response, which is responsible for the habit forming properties of THC. Activation of this neuroreceptor also causes a profound and unique sense of intoxication that some researchers have likened to a hallucinogenic effect.

Activation of the CB2 receptor, on the other hand, mainly causes an anti-inflammatory response without any accompanying profound sense of intoxication. Many cannabinoids, in addition, do not activate either receptor, and some hinder the activation of conventional cannabinoid receptors.

CBD is an excellent example of a cannabinoid that does not have any notable activation response at CB1 or CB2 receptors. In the case of your brain’s intoxicating CB1 receptors, in fact, CBD appears to have an inhibitory function, potentially reducing the experienced effects of THC.

Are cannabinoids found in other plants?

No, cannabinoids are only found in cannabis. This is an educated judgment reached in full knowledge of the existence of cannabimimetic compounds present in certain other plants, such as flax and Boswellia serrata.

None of these compounds exactly mimic the structure of cannabinoids, so it can be truly said that Cannabis sativa is the only source of cannabinoid compounds in nature. In laboratory conditions, cannabinoids can be synthesized using non-cannabis materials, but the costs generally preclude such ventures from taking on commercial proportions.

Top 5 cannabinoids

Following are brief dossiers on the five most popular cannabinoids currently used in hemp products:

1. Cannabidiol (CBD): Renowned for its apparent anti-inflammatory and anxiety-relieving properties, CBD has become incredibly popular over the last decade, paving the way for further cannabinoids to enter the market.

2. Cannabigerol (CBG): The first cannabinoid to reach popular status after CBD was CBG, which is now being looked at for pain-relief, digestive, and antibacterial applications.

3. Cannabinol (CBN): A metabolite of THC, CBN nonetheless lacks notable intoxicating properties while seemingly helping some users get to sleep at night.

4. Cannabichromene (CBC): Researchers believe CBC may activate a critical neuroreceptor even more strongly than CBD, potentially making it a very powerful pain fighting tool.

5. Cannabidiolic acid (CBDa): The chemical precursor to CBD, CBDa may be capable of activating certain neural receptors more strongly than CBD, differentiating it from its decarboxylated form.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are so structurally similar to cannabinoids that they must be variations on the same core design. Where cannabinoids veer away from terpenes is in their aromatic properties — while both compound classes are known for their anti-inflammatory utility, cannabinoids do not have any notable aroma.

The aroma of terpenes, though, has been their main allure throughout history. They are the scents behind essential oils and the secret ingredients of the most delicately balanced perfumes. More recently, terpenes have become just as sought-after as cannabinoids for their pinpoint-targeted therapeutic benefits.

What do terpenes do?

Before we can coherently discuss the effects of terpenes, it must first be understood that there are at least 400 different terpenes¹. Just as is the case with cannabinoids, there are considerable differences between the effects of different terpenes. There are only a few dozen cannabinoids to contend with at most, though, making it relatively simple to map out their effects.

When it comes to terpenes, there are so many different effect profiles to collate that it becomes necessary to research each terpene individually to predict its effects. Limonene, for instance, is known for its stimulating effects, but linalool does the exact opposite. The most that can be said for terpenes on the whole is that they’re nearly all known to exert anti-inflammatory effects dispersed throughout the entire body.

Are terpenes found in other plants?

Another considerable difference between cannabinoids and terpenes is their presence in other plants. While cannabinoids are entirely unique to cannabis, terpenes are spread widely throughout nature. From the aroma of lavender to the zest of orange peel, terpenes are everywhere in the plant kingdom, and they’re the cornerstones of ancient remedies and modern therapies alike.

Botanists have long been enraptured by the sheer purity in which terpenes are presented in cannabis flower. Most plants contain a few different terpenes at most, and in relatively low concentrations.

Every strain of cannabis, however, contains a swirling matrix of dozens of different cannabinoids, encapsulated in virginal perfection within the trichome oil sacs that appear along the surface of cannabis buds during the flowering cycle. Cannabis is widely known for producing some of the most fragrant flowers in the botanical world, and these richly sophisticated aromas are entirely attributable to terpenes.

In the modern hemp market, cannabis-derived terpenes are widely understood to be higher-quality than terpenes derived from other plants. When mixed expertly, however, it can be difficult to tell the difference between botanical and cannabis-derived terpenes.

Top 5 terpenes

A full list of terpenes could fill an entire book, but here are the facts on five of the most abundant terpenes found in cannabis:

1. Myrcene: Responsible for the dankness in mangoes, myrcene has a distinctly herbaceous, hoppy aroma. It’s one of the most abundant cannabinoids in almost every strain of cannabis, and it’s believed to have antioxidant properties.

2. Caryophyllene: Known for its peppery aroma, caryophyllene is the zing in black pepper and the reason cannabis sometimes smells spicy. It’s one of the only terpenes known to act as a cannabinoid by activating the CB2 receptors².

3. Limonene: Limonene is the reason citrus fruits smell citrusy. It’s believed to have energizing properties, and like other terpenes, it appears to fight oxidative stress.

4. Linalool: The soothing aroma of lavender is courtesy of linalool. Scientists believe there may be genuine merit to the terpene’s sleep-inducing properties³.

5. Pinene: Pinene is what makes pine needles smell piney. In addition to exhibiting antioxidant properties, pinene might also help open your airways.

Using terpenes and cannabinoids in products

To craft a memorable cannabinoid product, it’s often now necessary to also incorporate terpenes. Doing so isn’t a simple task of tossing the two ingredient types together slipshod, though. Combining terpenes and cannabinoids is an art, and if it is mastered, the quality of the resulting products will speak for itself.

Special considerations

– Terpenes and cannabinoids combine excellently, but not when combined willy-nilly

– It’s best to replicate the combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes found in nature

– As a result, strain-specific terpene blends are the most desirable

– You can, however, mix terpenes at your discretion if you have a good grasp of their individual properties

– Human intervention could, theoretically, boost the synergy between terpenes and cannabinoids to heights unachievable in nature

– Mixing terpenes inexpertly runs the very real chance of subverting natural synergy and reducing a product’s overall effectiveness

The entourage effect

It has become abundantly clear to the scientific community that the entourage effect is only a shadow of its full self when terpenes are removed. A recent peer-reviewed study⁴ reflects the long-held views of Dr. Ethan Russo — namely, that terpenes are just as essential to the efficacy of the entourage effect as cannabinoids.

A product should not be claimed to offer the entourage effect unless it contains terpenes. Furthermore, a product with terpenes can only fully offer the entourage effect if the terpenes it contains are well-selected and high-quality.

Terpene quality

Once they have achieved their decarboxylated forms, cannabinoids are relatively chemically stable. The same cannot be said for terpenes, which decay rapidly in efficacy when exposed to oxidative stress.

Terpenes added to cannabinoid products, therefore, must be handled with utmost care during the extraction and distillation process. Manufacturers of terpenes should be able to provide assurance that their products are undamaged and offer full efficacy.

Strain-specific benefits

Just as the benefits of cannabinoids should be viewed in synergy, not individually, terpenes also appear to offer enhanced synergistic benefits when they are kept organized in certain ratios. When in doubt, keep terpenes in strain-specific ratios. You’ll at least be able to replicate the effects of a specific target strain that way.

Terpenes & cannabinoids: Synergy, not competition

Terpenes and cannabinoids are very different. But, just as can be the case in differences between people, it is these very differences that provide both types of compounds with their vast strength.

On its own, a cannabinoid (or even multiple cannabinoids) cannot achieve the full scope of the promised therapeutic power of cannabis. The same goes for terpenes, which lack pure power without cannabinoids. Combined together correctly within their own camps and then melded into one cohesive unit, however, the vast diversity of benefits between cannabinoids and terpenes achieves an indomitable strength.


1. Cannabis 101: What’s the Deal with Terpenes? (2021, May 20). Healthline.

2. Aly, E., Khajah, M. A., & Masocha, W. (2019). β-Caryophyllene, a CB2-Receptor-Selective Phytocannabinoid, Suppresses Mechanical Allodynia in a Mouse Model of Antiretroviral-Induced Neuropathic Pain. Molecules, 25(1), 106.

3. Xu, L., Li, X., Zhang, Y., Ding, M., Sun, B., Su, G., & Zhao, Y. (2021). The effects of linalool acupoint application therapy on sleep regulation. RSC Advances, 11(11), 5896–5902.

4. Ferber, S. G., Namdar, D., Hen-Shoval, D., Eger, G., Koltai, H., Shoval, G., Shbiro, L., & Weller, A. (2020). The “Entourage Effect”: Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders. Current Neuropharmacology, 18(2), 87–96.×17666190903103923


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