CBD Oil 101 Guide: What it Is and What it Does (+ Highness Risks)

What is CBD Oil

In Australia, CBD Oil has become a prevalent natural remedy for a variety of health problems. You can use it as a general everyday aid for well-being, focus, energy, and mood. Most importantly, CBD works. Australians swear by it. Plus, it’s racked up countless positive stories, now backed by scientific evidence. But you’re probably asking: what is CBD oil? Understanding the answer to this question is an essential starting point, particularly now that CBD oil is entirely legal to buy in Australia.

Woman Holding CBD Oil

In 2021, low-dose formulations of the product were made legal for over-the-counter pharmacy purchases. You can also shop for it online or in certain retail stores, depending on your preferences. Many Australians need help navigating the complexities of CBD oil products despite their legality. You can easily confuse them with: 

  • Cannabis oil
  • Hemp seed oil
  • CB2 Oil

The formulations and types of CBD extracts available today are hard to understand.

CBD Oil in Australia

Our 101 guide here will bring you up to speed on the basics of CBD Oil. Get a foundational understanding of:

  • What CBD Oil is
  • How to get it in Australia
  • Where CBD oil comes from
  • What it does
  • Purposes that CBD oil is good for
  • Whether it gets you high

Let’s dive in and demystify this widely used but poorly understood health product.

CBD Drops

What is CBD Oil?

The hemp plant is the source of CBD oil, a gold-green liquid that’s rich in the cannabinoid called ‘cannabidiol’ or CBD for short.

Cannabinoids are a unique class of bioavailable (meaning useable by the body) chemical compounds that this plant naturally secretes.

The body (and brain) absorb these compounds via specialised receptors called ‘cannabinoid receptors’. These receptors exist in the nervous system, gut, organs, skin, and tissue. They’re part of the endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for unlocking the powerful health benefits of CBD (and other cannabinoids).

What's CBD Oil

One hundred and thirteen of these compounds have been identified in hemp. But most aren’t helpful (i.e., they do not interact with the endocannabinoid system).

CBD is, however. It has clinically proven to have powerful abilities to improve overall wellbeing in several essential ways. CBD can:

  • Soothe anxiety and calm stress
  • Lower inflammation around the body
  • Support sleep health
  • Block pain (to some extent)
  • Mitigate arthritis
  • Prevent seizures (it’s used in anti-seizure medications)
  • Help with immune regulation and autoimmune problems

Additionally, many find it helps them maintain a more grounded, concentrated, upbeat mental state.

CBD Oil being made

These effects sound too good to be true. The scientific evidence has established CBD’s credibility and authenticity.

It even works for particular (mammalian) pets like dogs, cats, and horses in similar ways. Although it’s from hemp, CBD oil isn’t psychoactive or intoxicating. Let’s compare it to cannabis and hemp seed oil to see why this is.

Differences Between CBD, Cannabis and Hemp Seed Oil

Although CBD oil contains the cannabinoid CBD, it doesn’t get you high. CBD differs from THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) – the other primary cannabinoid from cannabis that’s psychotropic and psychoactive.

In contrast to CBD, the THC cannabinoid strongly activates CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain, stimulating euphoric effects and changes in consciousness. CBD doesn’t do this. It doesn’t work on CB1 cannabinoid receptors directly and is more active in the body (versus the brain).

Australian CBD Oil Range

Their content of CBD and THC is the difference between CBD, cannabis and hemp seed oil. Even though they’re all sourced from cannabis, they have entirely distinct cannabinoid makeup.

  • CBD Oil contains CBD but no THC.
  • Cannabis oil contains THC (and often CBD).
  • Hemp seed oil doesn’t contain any cannabinoids at all.

Keep these differences in mind when you shop for CBD oil in Australia. Confusing these different extracts of hemp is common but could mean you waste money. With this in mind, let’s review how you can obtain CBD oil in Australia today.

How Do You Get CBD Oil in Australia?

There are a few methods of purchasing CBD oil in Australia today. Your choice will depend on the type of extract you need, your budget, and your preferences.

CBD Extraction

While legal, there are still a few rules on the strengths and formulations of the product that providers can sell. In particular:

  • Low-dose CBD oil is sold in pharmacies over the counter and in many retail stores (including e-commerce CBD shops online). This type of product must contain under 150mg of CBD per day and can only contain 30 mL of oil per dropper bottle.
  • High-strength CBD oil requires a prescription from a GP to buy. Any extract with more than 150mg of daily dose equivalent or in a larger size than 30mL has to follow this rule.
  • CBD oil with THC can only be prescribed by a GP. This oil type is regulated as a ‘cannabis medication’. Control of access to it in Australia is very stringent. 

For most individuals, low-dose CBD oil is suitable. Mild health issues don’t require high doses (or ‘strengths’) of CBD. This also applies to using it as a general well-being booster. They mainly apply to severe problems (e.g., advanced arthritis or chronic pain).

Pouring CBD into Bottle

As such, we recommend a low-strength product for regular usage unless you have a severe health issue (in which case, speak to your GP). So, how can you purchase these CBD oil types?

No Prescription (Low-Dose Products)

Obtaining low-dose CBD oil is straightforward. Find an extract that meets your budget and needs, then look for a store that sells it. Remember that you must supply a valid Australian ID to purchase these products. Once you’ve identified what you want, it’s a good idea to confirm with a particular store they have stock.

Pure CBD Drops

You can then shop for it in:

  • Pharmacies by requesting your CBD oil from the prescription counter.
  • Retail (e.g. cannabis dispensaries) via shopping at stores licensed to sell CBD oil.
  • Online stores in Australia commonly offer low-dose CBD products that ship domestically.

Of these options, pharmacies have the most reliable quality assurance. CBD products they stock are tightly regulated. As such, you’ll get very high-quality, pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil. But this quality and assurance comes at a cost. Shopping in pharmacies is far more costly than in other types of stores.

For this reason, online CBD shops in Australia tend to be the most popular now. They provide the most value, cost-savings and convenience through direct shipping. Do additional research if you use this purchase channel. Many e-commerce CBD providers sell mislabelled or diluted products. Extra caution is needed to find a reputable online store. But the money and time you can save by doing so is often well worth it.

What if you need a more potent extract? Here’s how to buy high-dose CBD oil.

Prescription (High-Dose or Containing THC)

High-strength CBD oil is prescription-only due to being a Schedule 4 substance under regulation. Similarly, this rule applies to any oil that has THC concentrations above 0.3% (the legal limit for standard CBD oil). 

Getting these products means you need to speak to a GP.

Cannabis Oil
How to Get Prescribed

Are you looking to get a CBD oil prescription in Australia? Here are the steps you’ll need to take:

  • Speak to a Cannabis Medication Licensed Doctor: only doctors licensed to prescribe cannabis medications as part of Australia’s ‘Special Access Scheme’ (for medical cannabis) can prescribe high-strength CBD oil. To get prescribed, you’ll need to find one. Alternatively, seek out a telehealth cannabis doctor in Australia to do so.
  • Initial Consult: Book a time to consult with the doctor you found. You’ll complete a patient entry assessment and pay an initial consult fee to get your eligibility reviewed.
  • Condition Review: in Australia, only certain health conditions are eligible to be treated with prescription cannabis medicines like high-strength CBD oil. The prescribing doctor will seek to understand your condition in detail and gauge whether it’s part of the pre-approved condition list. If not, they may not be able to prescribe. 
  • Getting Approved: After being assessed, the doctor must approve your medication under the Special Access Scheme. To prevent misuse, prescriptions are each added to a restricted medication register for high-strength CBD extracts. You’ll need to wait for this approval before getting your registered script.
  • Follow-Up for Prescription: After you’re approved, you must have a follow-up session with the prescribing doctor for your prescription. At this point, they can provide you with the script for your CBD oil.

Go to a pharmacy that sells CBD products to get your script filled and obtain your oil. After this, you’ll be required to have ongoing regular check-ins with the prescribing doctor to monitor your progress, side effects, and continued eligibility. These check-ins are mandatory to maintain your prescription and medically approved status.

Now that you know what CBD oil is and how to get it in Australia, let’s take a step back and examine where it comes from.

Where is CBD Oil From?

CBD Tincture in Australia

Although all CBD oil comes from the cannabis sativa plant (i.e. hemp), different types of oil are extracted from distinct varieties of this plant. 

These distinctive varieties are each grown and cultivated differently to contain varying quantities of cannabinoids (especially CBD and THC).

Lady with CBD Dropper

In particular:

  • Low-dose CBD oil comes from industrial hemp varieties of cannabis
  • High-strength CBD oil is sourced from high-CBD hemp strains
  • CBD oil with THC comes from medical cannabis varieties in Australia

How do these differ exactly?

  • Industrial hemp contains less than 0.3% THC and low to mid-range concentrations of CBD. It is also farmed widely for commercial applications that favour the plant’s fibres and seeds (for example, in manufacturing hemp clothes).
  • High-CBD hemp strains have minimal amounts of THC but are bred for potent, medical-grade CBD oil. This breeding and selection process produced plants with high quantities of CBD, making it ideal for more potent extracts.
  • Medical cannabis is the most strictly controlled type of cannabis variety in Australia and can only be farmed with specialist licensing. Depending on the strain, these plants contain THC and varying levels of CBD.

Despite the divergences in the varieties of cannabis that different CBD oil types come from, there are shared methods in how each is made. A multi-stage process is required to extract any of them. It involves:

  • Drying harvested hemp, then separating its stalks, leaves and buds
  • Processing and crushing the buds into a resin
  • Separating pure CBD extract from this resin via extraction using supercritical CO2 or solvents like ethanol

The extract is then mixed with a carrier oil like MCT or olive oil, which helps to disperse it (avoiding uneven doses) and improve digestive absorption. Absorbing the oil delivers CBD molecules into the body. But what does it do?

What Does CBD Oil Do?

After ingesting CBD oil, your body absorbs it into the blood. Molecules of CBD then activate your cannabinoid receptors. CBD binds with these receptors in the brain, body, and nervous system, where it takes effect. On activation, these receptors stimulate the endocannabinoid system to release endogenous cannabinoids (or ‘endocannabinoids’), which are the fundamental mechanism by which CBD provides its health benefits.

CBD oil for skin

Body

Endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-AG work in the body to balance and regulate various metabolic processes. For instance, they can:

  • Help with gastrointestinal regulation and digestive issues
  • Improve immune regulation to calm inflammation
  • Alter nervous system signalling to block pain
  • Lower blood pressure through cardiovascular system modulation
  • Soothe irritable, inflamed or dry skin via normalising skin enzymes and hormones

Similarly, these compounds work wonders for mental health. Various brain regions have been shown to respond positively to endocannabinoid activity.

Premium CBD oil in Australia

Brain

Endocannabinoids improve the regulation of cognitive processes by interacting with neurotransmitter receptors like serotonin, GABA and glycine. In turn, this enables them to:

  • Mitigate mood and depression problems
  • Calm anxiousness or nerves
  • Block stress and prevent sensitivity to stressors
  • Suppress sensations of pain
  • Prevent epilepsy
  • Enhance focus and concentration
  • Reduce ADHD symptoms

Each of these effects has clinical evidence supporting it. However, individuals tend to vary in their responsiveness to CBD and the benefits they see. CBD is also not a cure for any illness or health condition. You should view CBD oil as a complementary, supportive aid for other treatment options. It’s best applied in conjunction with them. Don’t treat it as a ‘magic fix’.

This extract’s incredible variety of valuable effects on the body and brain make it great for many purposes. What are the popular reasons that people in Australia use CBD oil? Let’s take a look.

What is it Good For?

You can use CBD oil for many helpful outcomes.

What's in CBD oil?

Some of the health purposes that it’s good for are:

  • Everyday wellbeing: Many in Australia use CBD oil to improve their mental energy, mood, and focus. Even among healthy individuals, it’s a great addition to a daily repertoire for feeling and performing better due to its balanced vitality-enhancing effects.
  • Recovery and performance: Athletes favour CBD oil to assist with sports recovery, sleep, and exercise performance. It’s excellent at soothing muscle aches, strains, or inflammation from working out. Plus, its sleep advantages are a recognised way for athletes to boost performance over time.
  • Sleep: Another widespread use of the extract is getting better, deeper sleep. Taking advantage of its calming, stress-alleviating powers at night is ideal for preventing insomnia. CBD also has proven advantages for balancing circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycles.
  • Anxiety and Depression: studies have shown CBD functions as an antidepressant by improving mood. But it also offers anxiolytic properties, soothing the mind and preventing racing thoughts. This makes it well-suited as an aid for relaxation and better mental health.
  • Pain Management: CBD suppresses some types of pain, such as neuropathic pain, by lowering the perception of pain in the nervous system. 
  • Preventing Seizures: CBD can prevent seizures caused by epilepsy in the brain. CBD-based medications (e.g., Epidiolex) are already being used to treat syndromes that trigger seizures in both children and adults. This is the outcome of CBD’s neuroprotective effects. It works to prevent the misfiring and dysregulation of brain neurons.
  • Inflammation: CBD supports normalised immune function and reduces inflammatory activity. These anti-inflammatory powers mitigate inflammatory conditions like IBS, colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Even though it’s excellent for many health issues and day-to-day wellbeing, a common concern is the belief that CBD oil gets you ‘high’ due to being extracted from cannabis. But is this true?

Will CBD Oil Get Me High?

There’s no way that CBD oil can get you ‘high’ due to this extract containing no THC. THC is a cannabinoid that stimulates intoxicating mental effects and gets you ‘stoned’ or high.

Blonde Holding Up CBD Product

Standard CBD oil products in Australia must have less than 0.3% THC, which isn’t enough to cause any change in perception (it’s a tiny amount).

If you’re still worried about THC risks, you can choose CBD isolate oil. This oil type is designed to have 0% THC and high purity. If you’re drug tested (e.g., as part of your job) or are a driver in Australia (due to roadside drug screens), this option is perfect for added peace of mind. 

But pure CBD oil on its own will essentially have the opposite effect of feeling intoxicated and high. Most people report feelings of peace, clarity, focus and calm after taking it.

Conclusion

Let’s recap what we covered to wrap up this 101 guide on CBD oil and what it is. CBD oil is a liquid that contains the cannabidiol cannabinoid. It differs from cannabis oil (which includes THC) and hemp seed oil (which contains no cannabinoids) even though these are also extracts of hemp. As it’s free of THC, CBD oil doesn’t overly stimulate the brain or cause a ‘high’. Instead, its effects throughout the body and brain are restorative.

What is CBD Oil Takeaways

Through the endocannabinoid system, CBD helps improve mental wellbeing, reduce anxiety, and aid mood. Its effects extend into the body, where it can reduce inflammation, lower pain, and support immunity. These balanced effects make CBD oil suitable for various health purposes, from relieving specific conditions to supporting regular energy and mood. You can now get this fantastic product from participating pharmacies or stores online and in person around Australia. Remember that high-strength extracts or those that contain THC need a prescription to purchase.

References

  1. Grinspoon, P. (2018). Cannabidiol (CBD): What we know and what we don’t. [online] Harvard Health Blog. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476.
  2. seoteam (2021). Guide To Obtaining A CBD Prescription in Australia. [online] Cann I Help. Available at: https://cannihelp.com.au/guide-to-obtaining-a-cbd-prescription-in-australia/
  3. CBD For Life. (2023). Where Does CBD Come From? [online] Available at: https://cbdforlife.us/blogs/news/where-does-cbd-come-from
  4. BBC Good Food. (n.d.). What is CBD oil and is it safe? [online] Available at: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/what-cbd-oil-and-it-safe.
  5. Black, L. (2022). Can CBD Get You High? Effects and Duration. [online] GoodRx. Available at: https://www.goodrx.com/classes/cannabinoids/does-cbd-get-you-high.
  6. Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). (2023). Guidance for the use of medicinal cannabis in Australia: Patient information. [online] Available at: https://www.tga.gov.au/resources/resource/guidance/guidance-use-medicinal-cannabis-australia-patient-information.

FAQs

What’s in CBD Oil?

The main ingredient of CBD oil is the cannabidiol (CBD) cannabinoid from hemp. However, CBD oil doesn’t contain only this cannabinoid. It typically has a blend of other phytocompounds (plant nutrients) sourced from the hemp plant. These include cannabis terpenes, antioxidative compounds, vitamins, essential minerals, healthy fats (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and cannflavins (a flavonoid). In addition, the extract containing these nutrients is combined with an inert ‘carrier’ oil, such as almond oil, which improves flavour, digestion and dosing.

Is CBD Oil a Drug?

Drugs alter your mental state and can cause addiction, neither of which are characteristics of CBD oil. It’s not a drug or intoxicating substance which can change your consciousness. This is due to cannabidiol (CBD) not being psychotropic or psychoactive, making it safe to use without the risk of mental harm. But this only applies to pure CBD oil products that don’t contain THC in them.

Is CBD Oil the same as hemp oil?

Hemp oil and CBD oil are different due to their cannabinoid concentrations. Hemp seeds contain no cannabinoids and are used to produce hemp oil. This is distinct from CBD oil extracted from hemp buds and leaves. Each of these hemp plant parts contains cannabinoids like cannabidiol, the active ingredient of CBD oil. Hemp and CBD oil have different uses due to these compositional differences.

Is CBD from marijuana?

Marijuana is a form of cannabis sativa that is abundant in both THC and CBD. Most CBD isn’t from this type of plant, however. Primarily, it’s drawn from industrial hemp varieties. These plants are non-psychoactive, containing meagre amounts of THC. These are not the same as marijuana, which is grown chiefly for medical cannabis products (controlled medicines in Australia).

What is the main use of CBD Oil?

The primary use of CBD oil is for reducing anxiety and promoting calmness. This is the most popular reason people in Australia take it, but not the only one. People also widely consume it to lower pain or inflammation, counteract insomnia, accelerate exercise recovery, or strengthen their mental state.

Does CBD Oil really work?

Scientific evidence on the efficacy of CBD oil is extensive. Clinical studies and wide-scale medical trials have been conducted to determine CBD’s health effects and therapeutic applications. These have led to its approval as a medication in Australia and broader legalisation in low-strength formulations. In modern medicine, it’s even incorporated into medications for relieving conditions like epilepsy (seizures) and chronic nerve pain.

Author

Steve Jacobs Author Headshot

Originally from Byron Bay (Australia), Steve Jacobs is a writer and expert on the world of hemp. His passion for hemp products developed from working with organic hemp cultivators and sustainable skincare brands in Byron. Inspired by these eco-friendly approaches to crafting superb products, Steve realised the opportunity at the intersection of aromatherapy, natural skincare and the magic of hemp. He founded Bondi Hemp to bring this dream to life, bringing rejuvenating hemp extracts, refreshing botanical hemp topicals and revitalising essential oils to everyday Aussies. True to his Byron roots, Steve infuses every drop of his responsibly produced hemp products with the rich terroir of the Byron Region, resulting in unsurpassed quality without harming the earth. Today, Steve continues to write and speak about hemp, skincare, and aromatherapy from his family’s home in Northern NSW.