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How does Cannabidiol (CBD) make you feel? What are the effects?

CBD seems to be on everyone’s minds. With the recent legalization of industrial hemp products in December of 2018 across the United States, hemp-derived CBD popularity as an organic dietary supplement has grown.

Despite this, many still do not understand “what does CBD do“. Some are concerned that because CBD comes from Hemp, that it will cause the user to become intoxicated. There are others who just want to know what they’re getting themselves into before they try it.

So, let’s alleviate those worries and answer those questions.

What even is CBD?

CBD is shorthand for Cannabidiol. It is a compound found in plants that part of the Cannabis family, the famous members of this family being Marijuana and Hemp. You’ve more than likely heard of another compound found in these plants, Tetrahydrocannabinol (you probably know it better as THC). THC is the compound that creates the intoxication that is more commonly associated with Cannabis. CBD does not have that same effect.

Most of the plants in the Cannabis family have CBD in them, but the compound is most often extracted from Hemp than Marijuana. The concentrations of CBD differ between these two plants. Marijuana tends to be richer in THC and not as much in CBD. Hemp, on the other hand, tends to have more CBD than THC.   Hemp, by definition, must have less than 0.3% THC. Most CBD products are made using Hemp since oil extracted from it is going to have much lower THC concentrations than CBD oil taken from Marijuana (this is also because Marijuana is not legal in all states, while Hemp is). Products made from hemp-derived CBD are federally legal, which is why you will see these products for sale in a large number of stores.

As mentioned before, CBD has risen in popularity as an option for things like anxiety and as pain management aid. This is because CBD oil is easily made into tablets, edibles, and lotions, among other things. This provides people with a variety of options for use. What do those tablets, edibles, and lotions do to help people without causing intoxication?


How does CBD work?

The human body has what’s called the Endocannabinoid system, which regulates many of the body’s functions that include pain perception and cognitive functions.  This system consists of what is referred to as Cannabinoid receptors; the most common of the receptors are called CB1 and CB2. The receptors are found throughout the body and have an effect on things like memory, appetite, mood, and pain.

THC creates a high by directly binding with the CB1 receptor, creating a change in the cognitive functions the receptors are in charge of.  The effects of THC will depend on the location of the CB1 receptor in the brain. This explains why certain brain functions may be impaired (e.g., memory) or may be enhanced, which often happens with appetite. CBD, on the other hand, does not directly bind with the receptors but does interact with them. It also interacts with about 70 other receptors and enzymes in the body. These receptors may affect many brain functions that include increasing serotonin and dopamine production. In this way, CBD does not cause intoxication, but it does promote a sense of well-being through positive interaction through specific receptors.  

Now that we’ve laid out that CBD doesn’t intoxicate you, what does it actually feel like?


How does CBD make people feel?

All human beings are unique. Not everyone reacts to the same things in the same way. CBD is no different. You and a friend may try the products derived from the same hemp strain at the same concentration, and you may still have very different experiences. However, there is a general consensus as to how CBD usually feels.

Most who use CBD report that it usually gives them a sense of calm. CBD helps them relax, and as a result, it may help with sleep. Others claim that the feeling of calm they get provides them with focus, clearing their mind, so that they may get things done. With the boost in serotonin that CBD may provide, some report that it makes them feel more positive, that it puts them into a better mood.

Many CBD users and experts say that the feeling of CBD, when used in reasonable amounts, is not overpowering. Many reports that the calm feeling that CBD gives them is a gentle one. It is not overwhelming or intense, as the effect of THC may be.

CBD comes in several different forms and concentrations. These differences may mean a distinct feeling. Some CBD formulations are reported to be better as a sleep aid, while others may work to better support joint health and flexibility. There are CBD users who have even reported that how you use the compound (as in, taking it orally or using a CBD lotion) makes a difference. Those who use CBD lotion may find relief from muscle soreness, but they do not necessarily seem to feel the same uplifting mental effects as those to take it orally might. Those who take tinctures also report noticing the effects much faster than those who use edibles.

Whether you use Full-Spectrum, Broad-Spectrum, or CBD isolate will also cause different feelings. Full-spectrum is CBD oil that keeps all of the other compounds that came with the CBD at the time of extraction, including THC and terpenes (which give Cannabis plants their smell and flavor). This is CBD oil in its simplest form since these compounds all come straight from the plant. Other versions of CBD require more processing. Full-spectrum CBD oil may not be a legal option for you, depending on your state’s Cannabis laws, and whether your job involves drug testing for controlled substances since this version tends to have slightly higher concentrations of THC.

Broad-Spectrum CBD is similar to Full-Spectrum. It also includes most of the compounds that are extracted with CBD. However, the main difference is that Broad-Spectrum filters out the THC. This form allows the benefits and effects of the other compounds without the worry of THC intoxication or testing positive for THC. It is essentially the middle ground between Full-Spectrum and CBD isolate. 

CBD isolate is exactly as it sounds, isolated, no other compound exists with it. The CBD chemical compound that has been isolated from everything else in the extraction process. It is the most processed version of the compound. This kind of CBD product is not as likely to be as strong as the other. Full-Spectrum and Broad-Spectrum may provide what is often called the “entourage effect.” This means that the other compounds found in Full-Spectrum and Broad-Spectrum may help increase the effects of CBD. The compounds build on each other, potentially making each stronger than it would be on its own.

Most CBD oils do contain a little bit of THC. However, they usually have too little THC to actually intoxicate you (most are legally not allowed to contain over 0.3%). At the same time, in states where marijuana is legal, it is possible to find CBD products with enough THC to cause a high. Of course, those CBD products will give you a much different feeling than any other. This feeling will lean closer to the one that THC would provide, being much more intense than CBD on its own.

There are multiple factors that affect how CBD makes someone feel. Many of them have more to do with the product and how it’s made (as described above), there are factors that are more to do with the person taking it. Things like genetics or how much you weigh may change the feeling of CBD, even making it feel like nothing. Those who deal with these differences may need to take more or less CBD than most people to get the gentle, relaxed feeling they’re going for. There are some medications that may also change the effects. Even your diet and lifestyle might change things.


What are the side effects?

Like with most things, there are some people who do experience negative side effects with CBD. These effects are generally things like fatigue, mild nausea, and dry mouth. While they are side effects that aren’t all that pleasant, they are not very serious either. These are also usually experienced by people who take CBD at very high concentrations, though they may not be experienced by everyone. Most report side effects fading and even going away entirely after reducing the concentration and/or frequency at which they take CBD.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before you start using CBD products. If you are taking other medication, it could dull the intended effect of the medication or cause unwanted, unexpected side effects. Be cautious in your dosing. If you notice any major, worrying side effects, stop your dosage, and talk to your doctor.


What does all of this mean?

To sum all of this up: CBD will not make you high or cause any real impairment or intoxication. However, it may have a relaxing effect and/or possibly even put you in a good mood. Users report a gentle feeling of calm without any real change in cognitive abilities.

So, if you are worried or just curious about what your CBD product may make you feel, you may go ahead and relax before the CBD even gets a chance to try and do it for you.