One product of the cannabis plant, CBD, has become a big thing among wellness enthusiasts and healthcare professionals alike.
Cannabis is no longer largely the province of dealers hiding in the shadows, celebrity suppliers, or a “friend who knows a guy.” It’s quickly become the centerpiece of a respectable industry, not only because of the sweeping trend of marijuana legalization across America, but also because science recognizes more and more verifiable health benefits of the unique chemical compound known as CBD.
With so much hype surrounding it, you may be wondering, “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 get high.
Fortunately, cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in both hemp and marijuana plants that, on its own, does not produce psychoactive effects. Instead, CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabis compound that offers anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving and anti-anxiety effects, and has other beneficial properties as well.
If you’re interested but wary of trying CBD oil, let’s allay your fears with some 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: unlike pot, hemp-derived CBD oil will not make you feel high or produce intoxicating effects. In fact, it’s one of over 100 non-psychoactive (or non-intoxicating) chemical compounds found in both types of cannabis plants, marijuana and hemp. Instead of getting you stoned, CBD makes you feel relaxed and calm without producing any mind-altering effects.
You may be surprised to learn that your body produces substances very similar to cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids, on its own. And the human body has a complete endocannabinoid system responsible for creating and receiving cannabinoids, messengers that coordinate reactions in the body and maintain its homeostasis, or balance. This system uses two receptors: the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
The psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana 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 CBD 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, reduce pain and inflammation, and provide a general feeling of well-being.
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
CBD oil has many benefits, without the high (or side effects) of the cannabis sativa or cannabis indica weed that you’d buy in a dispensary. Those are derived from the marijuana plant. The CBD you purchase online or at a local store is extracted from industrial hemp plants.
CBD is used for:
- pain relief, especially severe or chronic pain
- 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. It’s most commonly used for pain because it can lessen or interrupt pain signals sent from the CB1 receptors to the brain, and for depression, because it apparently helps to increase the brain’s serotonin levels.
How Does CBD Make You Feel? It Depends on the Product Type
CBD has different effects on different people, but the way CBD will make you feel largely depends on the product you choose. For example, you can buy CBD products which contain a miniscule amount of THC plus other naturally-occurring compounds, CBD with only the THC removed, or pure CBD. The type of plant from which the cannabidiol is sourced also makes a big difference.
Each form of CBD has pros and cons. We’ll go over your options below.
Hemp-Derived vs. Marijuana-Derived CBD
The cannabis plant produces CBD. But there are two types of cannabis, 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 technically legal in all 50 states, although a few states have stricter local laws.
Marijuana, on the other hand, is grown primarily for its intoxicating ingredient, THC. All pot strains contain some level of CBD, but are primarily known for their high THC content. So unlike hemp-derived CBD oil products, marijuana-derived CBD oil may 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 usually legally purchase this CBD derived from pot – which contains much 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
One of the biggest choices you’ll have to make when buying cannabidiol products is between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD. The main difference is the amount of THC they contain.
Full-spectrum CBD contains a range of cannabinoids, terpenes and no more than 0.3% THC content. Broad-spectrum starts as a full-spectrum extract, but it undergoes an extra process to remove the psychoactive THC.
Why would you want that negligible amount of THC, if 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 cannabinoids. A 2005 study revealed that patients experienced more relief from pain and anxiety from full-spectrum CBD than isolated CBD.
The benefit of hemp components working together is referred to as the “entourage effect.” Scientists believe that the full-spectrum of compounds in the hemp plant work to boost the effectiveness of CBD, delivering more positive effects than CBD by itself.
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.”
However, some people don’t want any THC in their CBD oil at all. That’s where broad-spectrum CBD comes in.
Even though the THC has been removed after extraction, broad-spectrum CBD contains all of the terpenes, flavonoids, and other non-intoxicating compounds from the cannabis plant. With broad-spectrum CBD, you can experience most of the entourage effect’s benefit without the risk of consuming THC.
CBD isolate starts as CBD oil and is refined into a fine, white powder. All other 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 – and don’t want THC to show up on a drug test.
Forms of CBD
No matter which type of CBD you choose, there’s a product to suit your needs.
The most common form is CBD oil or tincture. CBD oil comes in an amber or blue glass bottle with a dropper. You simply drop the oil under your tongue, and leave it there for 30 to 90 seconds until it’s absorbed. You should feel its effects within minutes.
These are easier to administer than CBD oil, since the oil is contained in an easy-to-swallow caplet or capsule. The cannabidiol takes longer to work, though, since the container has to be digested first.
Many producers offer CBD oil blended with vape juice, allowing you to inhale the cannabidiol with a larger vaporizer or a smaller vape pen. The CBD hits the lungs and is absorbed almost immediately, for quick action.
CBD can also be used topically. You can find CBD-infused pain patches, lotions, creams, soaps and similar products; many are even sold in mainstream department and cosmetic stores.
Edibles and Beverages
There’s a wide range of marijuana-infused edibles, but most CBD edibles take the form of gummies or other candies.
You can also find CBD-infused beverages, but properly adding CBD to a beverage is not as simple as placing CBD oil in water. A special infusing process is required, so make sure your CBD beverage is from a company that has perfected the art. You can certainly mix cannabidiol with water or juice on your own, but it won’t be as effective.
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
- 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.
That’s because CBD and most of those medications are processed by the same enzymes in the liver. For the same reason, excessive consumption of alcohol should be avoided when using CBD.
If you’re taking medication or suffering from a serious medical condition, consult with your doctor before trying CBD.
Impurities and Dosage Irregularities in CBD Products
Another cause for concern might be the unreliability of the purity and dosage of CBD in some products, which are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 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, more THC than the allowable amount was found in 18 products.
Some CBD producers go above and beyond to prove their purity, by having a third-party lab test every batch. You can find data regarding the percentage of CBD, THC and other cannabis-derived compounds on their websites, in a document called a certificate of analysis (COA) supplied with every product. 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 use 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 argues.
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 recommends starting with a low dose of 5 drops, or 10 mg/ml, of CBD oil. Place the drops under your tongue for about one 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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