What Does CBD Feel Like? - Public Goods Blog

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What Does CBD Feel Like?

CBD has become a bit of a buzzword among wellness enthusiasts and healthcare professionals alike.

hand holding bottle of cbd oil with dropper removed

Cannabis is no longer restricted to tapestry-laden basements or shag-carpeted VW buses. It’s quickly becoming a respectable industry with scientists recognizing verifiable health benefits of this unique chemical compound known as CBD.

With so much hype sweeping across North America, you may be wondering, “Well, how does CBD make you feel?” We understand why you might be cautious about a compound derived from the cannabis plant. After all, we’re not all teenagers anymore. Some of us might not want to feel high.

Fortunately, cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound in hemp and marijuana plants that, on its own, does not make you feel high. Instead, CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabis compound that offers anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and anti-anxiety effects, as well as other beneficial properties.

If you’re interested but wary of trying CBD oil, let’s replace your fears with facts about how CBD feels. That way you can make a well-informed decision.

Does CBD Oil Make You Feel High?

Let’s make this crystal clear: hemp-derived CBD oil will not make you feel high or produce an intoxicating effect. In fact, it’s one of over 100 non-psychoactive (or non-intoxicating) chemical compounds found in cannabis. Instead of getting you stoned, CBD feels relaxing and calming without producing any mind-altering effects.

You may be surprised to learn that your body produces cannabinoids on its own. The human body has an endocannabinoid system responsible for creating and receiving cannabinoids. This system uses two receptors: the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

The psychoactive ingredient in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC. This intoxicating compound alters normal brain communication by affecting neurotransmitters directly. This influence affects the pleasure, memory, concentration, movement, sensory and time perception centers of the brain by attaching to the CB1 receptor.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, on the other hand, does not act on your receptors in the same way. Evidence indicates that CBD does not attach directly to these receptors at all. Instead, it works through the endocannabinoid system indirectly to relax your body and reduce pain and inflammation.

Put simply, CBD does not affect the brain the way THC does. It does not make you feel high, disoriented or forgetful.

Benefits of CBD Oil

bottle of cbd oil with dropper in medicine cabinet

CBD oil has many benefits, without the negative side effects of the THC high.

CBD is used for:

  • pain relief
  • reducing anxiety and depression
  • relieving nausea and vomiting
  • fighting acne
  • reducing spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis
  • treating epilepsy
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing inflammation

If you suffer from one or more of these diagnoses, talk to your doctor to see if CBD oil is right for you.

How Does CBD Make You Feel? It Depends on the Product Type

Ultimately, the way CBD will make you feel depends on the type of extraction you choose. You can also obtain CBD with minimal THC, other cannabis compounds, or completely isolated from other cannabinoids.

Each form of CBD has pros and cons. We’ll go over your options below.

Hemp-Derived vs. Marijuana-Derived CBD

The two classifications for the plant that produces CBD are hemp and marijuana.


Hemp is typically grown industrially for its fiber. It’s a hardy plant that can be used to make rope, paper and even clothing. Hemp contains CBD, but U.S. law requires that it contains no more than 0.3% THC. Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 states. Keep in mind that products branded as “hemp oil” are not the same as CBD oil, and typically don’t contain any CBD at all.


Marijuana, on the other hand, is grown primarily for its intoxicating ingredient, THC. While some strains contain CBD, they typically have a high THC content as well. Therefore, unlike hemp-derived CBD oil products, marijuana-derived CBD oil products could make you feel intoxicated.

Marijuana-derived CBD oil remains illegal at the federal level. In most states with medical or recreational cannabis legalization, you can legally purchase CBD with more than 0.3% THC if you have a medical marijuana card or you’re 21+, respectively.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has an excellent map of state laws regarding the legalization of marijuana.

Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum

Both full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD are derived from the hemp plant. The main difference between these two types of CBD is the THC content.

Full Spectrum

Full spectrum CBD contains a range of cannabinoids, terpenes and, legally speaking, can have up to 0.3% THC. Broad spectrum starts as a full spectrum extract, but undergoes an extra process to remove the intoxicating compound.

So why would you want that negligible amount of THC? After all, 0.3% is not enough to get you high.

Experts now believe that CBD works best when combined with hemp’s other natural compounds: terpenes, flavonoids and other compounds. A 2005 study revealed that patients experienced more relief from pain and anxiety from full spectrum CBD than isolated CBD.

Referred to as the “entourage effect,” it is believed that the full spectrum of cannabinoids found in the hemp plant encourage the desired results better than CBD alone.

Sarah Polansky, founder and developer of the CBD oil brand Prismatic Plants, takes a strong stance in favor of full spectrum CBD oil.

“Always, always, always [choose] full spectrum extracts when looking for a health-positive CBD product,” she advised. “Beyond just cannabinoids, full spectrum means that the hundreds of other beneficial compounds in cannabis like terpenes and phenolics haven’t been removed.”

Broad Spectrum

However, some people don’t want any THC in their CBD oil at all. That’s where broad spectrum CBD comes in.

Broad spectrum CBD contains terpenes, flavonoids, and other non-intoxicating compounds from the cannabis plant. With broad spectrum CBD, you can experience the entourage effect without the risk of consuming THC.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate starts as a CBD oil and is refined into a fine, white powder. All other the terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids are removed.

CBD isolate is decreasing in popularity as the benefits of the entourage effect are further supported with scientific evidence. It’s still used by people who want to be sure they’re getting nothing but CBD.

Forms of CBD

No matter which type of CBD you choose, there’s a product to suit your needs.


bottle of hanf garten cbd oil, hanf gartern cbd packaging, house plants

The most common form, of course, is CBD oil or tincture. CBD oil comes in an amber or blue glass bottle with a dropper. Take anywhere from a few drops to a dropperful and place the oil under your tongue. Leave it there for 30 to 90 seconds. You should feel its effects within minutes.


apply cbd to skin with dropper

CBD can also be used topically. You can find CBD-infused lotions, creams and soaps.


cbd bottle with dropped, hemp seeds, cbd oil in glass cup

You can even find CBD-infused beverages. However, adding CBD to a beverage is not as simple as placing CBD oil in water. It needs to undergo a special infusing process to become effective. Make sure your CBD beverage is from a company that has perfected the art.

What Are the Negative Side Effects of CBD?

As with any supplement, CBD is not without its side effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, some users may experience:

  • dry mouth
  • diarrhea
  • reduced appetite
  • drowsiness and fatigue

In regard to drowsiness and fatigue, Polansky noted that “CBD is not a sedative, however it does create a sense of relaxation by counteracting the amount of stress-hormones our bodies produce (like cortisol), which gives us that feeling of go-go-go — also known as the fight-or-flight response.”

She added that, over time, our bodies adjust to this feeling. Instead of feeling fatigued, you may experience a sense of balance.

CBD can also interact with other medications you’re taking, such as blood thinners, calcium channel blockers, steroids, antihistamines, benzodiazepines, antiarrhythmics, antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-epileptics, beta blockers, NSAIDs and more.

CBD is processed by the same enzymes in the liver as the drugs listed above. For the same reason, excessive consumption of alcohol should be avoided when using CBD.

If you’re taking medication, consult with your doctor before trying CBD.

Impurities and Dosage Irregularities in CBD Products

Another cause for concern is the unreliability of the purity and dosage of CBD in products. A recent study of 84 CBD products bought online showed that more than a quarter of the products contained less CBD than labeled. In addition, THC was found in 18 products.

Some CBD producers go above and beyond to prove their purity by testing every batch. You can find data regarding the percentage of CBD, THC and other cannabis-derived compounds on their websites. Always be sure to fully research your producer.

Is CBD Safe?

Yes. While more research is needed to understand the full effects of CBD, it’s widely regarded as safe to consume. Polansky advocates for the safety of CBD.

“We have yet to have years of conclusive human studies to point to in order to answer this question with absolute certainty, but the prominent studies done to date really show no negative side effects for CBD (especially full spectrum CBD),” she argued.

Compared to THC, and even many over-the-counter medicines, CBD has far fewer side effects. While each individual’s needs are unique, CBD is an extremely safe option.

Feel Good With CBD

CBD relaxes your body by reducing cortisol levels, pain and inflammation, all without making you feel high.

If you’re new to CBD, Polansky recommended starting with a low dose of 5 drops of 10 mg/ml CBD oil. Place the drops under your tongue for 1 minute, then wait 30 minutes to see how you feel. Repeat as needed.

This regimen will allow you to gradually build up to 30 drops (1 ml), which is a common dose.

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