What Does CBD Feel Like? Benefits, Side Effects, & More
Date 3rd Mar 2021
Understandably, you may feel some apprehension about trying a trending health item like CBD, with its turbulent legal history — but you want to know what the buzz is all about. After all, CBD must have some impressive effects if it's on the trajectory to become a 1.8 billion dollar industry in the United States by 2022 .
Why are people turning towards CBD to support their well-being? What does it feel like? And are there dangerous side-effects to know of?
We'll break down everything you need to know about what CBD feels like, so you can choose the right CBD product and potency to suit your desired results.
Does CBD Get You High?
Cannabinol (CBD) is one of the main cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant — both hemp and marijuana varieties. The compound CBD itself does not produce intoxicating effects. However, its counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), concentrated in marijuana strains, does have psychoactive effects.
Legal CBD oil products sold throughout the United States are harvested from industrial hemp crops that contain no more than 0.3% THC. This trace amount of THC is similar to the alcohol content you might find from kombucha.
Yes, it contains THC, but it's not enough to get you high.
The Endocannabinoid System: Why THC Gets You High And CBD Doesn't
CBD doesn't produce intoxicating effects due to its particular its interactions with our endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS was named after the plant that led to its discovery, cannabis. This system's job is to maintain homeostasis (balance) of our internal environment despite the fluctuations we experience in our external environment.
In this system, the receptors and transmitters act like "read" receipts to some of our vital systems, including those that control our digestion, sleep-wake cycle, and stress, helping to keep all these systems performing optimally in balance.
Two of the main receptors in the ECS are the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
While CBD and THC have a very similar molecular structure, they differ in one key feature that makes THC yields intoxicating effects and CBD not. THC happens to be the same shape as an internally produced cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) called anandamide. Anandamide stems from the Sanskrit word, ananda meaning "bliss or joy."
The CB1 receptors are particularly rich in the central nervous system (CNS) and is most sensitive to anandamide and THC molecules . CB2 receptors are found in immune tissues and play a significant role in the inflammatory response .
One of the tasks assigned to the CB1 receptor is to regulate the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. When the body ingests THC, the receptor believes it to be the "bliss" molecule. It opens the gates to release hormones that produce euphoric effects that may also alter our memory processing and motor control.
On the other hand, CBD doesn't have the best molecular shape for unlocking the CB1 or CB2 receptors' actions, so it's not directly pushing the same buttons that release the flood of hormones that alter your state of mind.
Rather, CBD may help with an endocannabinoid deficiency, boosting internally produced cannabinoids to help maintain the body's homeostasis system . CBD also helps slow the breakdown of internally produced cannabinoids, such as anandamide, so that it's able to remain in your system for much longer, making it an effective breakdown inhibitor. CBD can also improve anandamide's ability to bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CBD has other interactions with certain receptors that help to produce a calming effect, which we'll get into shortly.
Hemp Extract Types
CBD and THC are only two of over a hundred cannabinoids detected in cannabis. These compounds are produced in the plant's resin concentrated on the buds, stems, and leaves, which are then harvested and refined to produce different extracts.
The effect you feel from taking CBD oil can depend on which extract type you're taking.
Full spectrum CBD extracts contain the hemp plant's original cannabinoid and terpene profile. This means that you're not only getting CBD, but you also get traces of THC, CBG, CBC, and CBN, along with beneficial terpenes.
This extract type is the strongest and will deliver the most balanced and natural effects of CBD compared to the next two extract types we'll discuss.
In herbal medicine, there's a concept called synergy. Synergy takes all the plant's natural compounds into account to produce greater effects that one compound can do independently.
The minor cannabinoids may not produce strong enough effects on their own in trace amounts, but they help to improve the effects of CBD. This is called the entourage effect.
You can think of the minor cannabinoids and trace terpenes as backup vocals to the show's main star, CBD. While CBD is the main attraction, the backup vocals help CBD produce a richer sound, improving its overall performance.
On the opposite side of extract types, we have CBD isolate.
Isolate extracts undergo additional processing steps to completely remove all traces of other cannabinoids, terpenes, waxes, and fatty acids. What you're left with is a crystal powder that's up to 99.9% pure CBD.
CBD isolate is most helpful for those looking for a CBD oil that's guaranteed free from THC, either due to sensitivities or legal reasons.
CBD oil made from isolate won't be as potent as its full spectrum counterpart. It's also been reported to more likely produce unwanted side-effects, as it doesn't have the help of the other cannabinoids to round-out its effects.
Not many companies offer a broad spectrum CBD oil option, but this is the best extract type if you're looking for diversity in cannabinoids and terpenes without THC.
Broad spectrum CBD oil contains a range of hemp phytonutrients alongside CBD but has THC completely removed. This is achieved either through a careful distillation process to isolate the THC compound, or it's done by taking isolate cannabinoids and combining them together.
With broad spectrum, you still get the benefits of the entourage effect. However, it may not be the same synergy level as full spectrum oils. Researchers suggest that THC and CBD have a synergistic relationship that improves their benefits when taken together.
If you absolutely need a CBD Oil Without THC, broad spectrum is the way to go.
What Does It Feel Like To Take CBD Oil?
The effects of CBD can feel different for everyone depending on the following factors:
Overall, users report subtle and gentle effects of CBD. The compound is widely known to promote a sense of calmness and relaxation, which many people find helpful for managing stress and getting a good night's sleep.
Of course, not all CBD products are made the same. Be sure to read up on the CBD oil's product description and label as some formulations include other ingredients that steer the benefits of CBD in a certain direction.
For example, you can find CBD oils for sleep aid combined with melatonin or valerian root to strengthen CBD's effects on the sleep-wake cycle.
And there are even some CBD oils marketed to give you an energy boost when combined with caffeine.
What Are The Side Effects Of Taking Too Much CBD?
While CBD is a safe and well-tolerated compound, you can have too much of a good thing.
Luckily, the adverse effects of taking too much CBD wears off as soon as it's out of your system (3–5 hours). However, it's still important to know the signs of ingesting too much CBD, so you know your limit and avoid unnecessary discomfort.
The Adverse Effects of Taking Too Much CBD Include:
If you're thinking about trying CBD for the first time, we recommend consulting with your healthcare professional to reduce the chances of negative interactions with medication. As a general rule of thumb, you always want to start on the lower end of dosing and work your way up so you don't over-do it.
Some people find it helpful to write down their doses and how they feel in a journal or the notes app on their phone and adjust their doses until the desired effects are reached.
Why Does CBD Make You Feel Good?
CBD is becoming very popular in natural wellness because of its gentle effects and long list of attributed benefits.
In this section, we'll jump into some of the mechanisms CBD works that help you feel better.
1. CBD May Increase GABA Activity
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) is an internally produced amino acid that behaves as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It's best known as the brake-pedal to a stimulated central nervous system, slowing down the fight-or-flight response in the body we associate with stress.
CBD is known to improve GABA's ability to bind to GABA-A receptors, producing a sense of calm in an overactive brain .
2. CBD Directly Interacts With Vanilloid Receptors
The vanilloid receptor (TRPV1) belongs to a class of receptors called "trip receptors" that influence our pain perception and inflammation.
The TRP receptor family is responsive to mechanical, thermal, chemical (i.e., acid, lipids) from our environment. For example, the pain from hot peppers triggers a response from the vanilloid receptors . CBD has been shown to bind to the vanilloid receptor, helping to mediate the perception of discomfort we experience from our external environment.
3. CBD Activates Serotonin Receptors
At high doses, CBD has been shown to activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor . Serotonin is a key hormone that affects our sense of well-being and happiness.
Through this pathway, CBD can improve our response to stress by managing discomfort, reduce the feeling of overwhelm, and irritability.
4. CBD May Reduce Stress Hormone Levels
Potential threats from our external environment activate our stress response.
The hypothalamus flags the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. This hormone curbs the functions of other systems such as the immune and digestion to direct energy towards preparing the body to either fight or flee — otherwise known as the fight-or-flight response.
While the stress response is designed to protect us, it's only meant to be a temporary response. Extended stress can lead to many health problems.
CBD has been shown to interact with cortisol levels in the bloodstream, helping alleviate prolonged stress symptoms .
The Takeaway: What Does CBD Feel Like?
Cannabinol is one of the main compounds produced in the cannabis plant that does not produce intoxicating effects. It's best known for its calming and relaxing benefits. Its popularity is steadily increasing as more research is uncovered about this unassuming compound.
CBD has impressive effects on certain pathways that affect our mood, perception of pain, and stress levels, making this compound beneficial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
People can experience CBD differently depending on the extract type, genetics, lifestyle, and various other factors.
Luckily, CBD is well tolerated, and adverse effects only last for as long as it remains active in your system. To avoid any adverse reactions to CBD, check in with your healthcare professional, start with lower doses, and slowly build your way up.
If you're interested in learning more about CBD and the humble hemp plant's nutritional benefits, be sure to read up on our blog for more information.