No, CBD Won’t Get You High
With more and more public awareness of the health benefits of CBD, a lot of consumers jumping on this cannabinoid’s bandwagon want to know if CBD will get them high.
CBD, unlike THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), doesn’t get you stoned or affect your memory. There are various reasons as to why CBD doesn’t impact your mind and behavior.
CBD from Hemp and Marijuana: Getting the Facts Straight
CBD oil has no psychoactive properties, and CBD and THC are two separate cannabinoids. Why do consumers worry about the THC content in CBD oil? Research shows that CBD may become contaminated by THC during the harvesting process, depending on the plant source it comes from. Also, the source of CBD can be marijuana or hemp. While both these plants belong to the family of the Cannabis sativa strain, they are entirely different in terms of composition, extraction, agriculture and function. By definition, the industrial hemp plant is high in CBD but contains no more than 0.3% of THC as measured in its dry flowering parts. This amount of THC is negligible and doesn’t cause the “stoned” feeling that comes from consuming marijuana.
To ensure the product is free of THC and its mind-altering effects, most experts in the CBD industry prefer the hemp-derived CBD oil.
In fact, agencies like the global sports-governing agency World Anti-Doping Agency, or WADA, which regulates doping practices worldwide, has removed hemp-derived CBD from its 2018 list of banned substances, which means that athletes are now allowed to use CBD, given that it meets the qualifying criterion.
CBD Can’t Fit Into THC’s Cannabinoid Receptor Pocket
Receptors are protein molecules in the cell that have pockets for receiving chemicals from outside the cell. THC binds to a specific site on the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) in the brain, which contributes to its psychoactive effects.
However, CBD acts in a very different way — it doesn’t directly use the cannabinoid receptors to exert its effects. CBD binds quite weakly, if at all, to the CB1 receptors. Despite its negligible affinity to the CB1 receptors, CBD is shown to interact with these receptors only on purpose—i.e., to resist THC’s actions.
CBD Tames THC’s Effects
Even at lower doses, CBD has a knack for curbing THC’s effects. Not only can CBD nix the high caused by THC, but it can also offset the negative impact of THC on memory. Remember, CBD protects your nerve cells, including the memory cells, in comparison to THC.
Moreover, using products (like full spectrum) low in THC but high in CBD is still shown to halt the cognitive deficits associated with THC due to the entourage effect where CBD modifies or suppresses THC’s adverse effects.
CBD can suppress THC’s adverse effects by raising the anandamide levels, combating anxiety through the release of happiness chemicals, as well as by impeding the THC-binding to the CB1 receptor.
- CBD parks at a different location on the CB1 receptors
In contrast to the older results of CBD not interacting with the cannabinoid receptors, newer studies reveal that CBD doesn’t attach to the site on the CB1 receptor where THC lodges. Instead, it parks at a different site on the same receptor from where it can impede the THC-binding to the CB1 receptor without actually initiating any signal on its own. You can think of CBD as a hidden rival of THC that resides closer to it and modifies the shape of the receptor in such a way that it can no longer bind THC. This latter action of CBD enables it to tackle other brain and nerve disorders while avoiding the adverse effects associated with binding to the THC’s site on the receptor.
- Directly hampering anandamide’s breakdown
Anandamide is an endocannabinoid formed in your body. CBD can inhibit the enzyme that degrades anandamide, thus increasing the levels of the latter. Unlike CBD, anandamide has a potential to fit snugly into the exact same site on the CB1 receptor as that of THC. Anandamide then vies with THC for its position on the receptor pocket. Finally, anandamide wins while the THC loses its place on the cannabinoid receptor. As long as CBD and anandamide are there, THC can’t bind to its primary receptor site or alter your mind and thought patterns.
- Blocking the anandamide carrier proteins
CBD can also bind and block specific proteins from transporting anandamide to the cellular site where the enzyme responsible for its breakdown resides. Since these transport proteins are already occupied by cannabidiol, they can’t bind anandamide or carry it to its site of degradation. The end-result is raised anandamide levels, which then competes with THC in the similar fashion as mentioned above.
- CBD raises the happy brain chemicals
While CBD doesn’t get along well with the cannabinoid receptors, it can bind to other receptor molecules like the serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor type 1A (5-HT1A), and aid its actions. Serotonin is the popularly known “happiness-chemical” targeted by many pills that address depression and anxiety.
People often confuse the terms “happy” and “euphoric.” It is important to note that serotonin is a “happy” and not a “euphoric” brain chemical. A happy chemical will soothe your mind whereas a euphoric chemical can get you high.
CBD may counter psychotic episodes
An additional factor that supports CBD’s non-psychoactive traits is its promising potential for psychosis (schizophrenia). Experts say that CBD can be a promising new agent for people with psychosis. Getting high is a symptom of a psychotic episode. A compound that can get you stoned can never benefit psychosis.
Studies show that CBD may fight psychosis similar to the medications (in particular amisulpride) that are designed to address psychosis. A trial comparing CBD to the antipsychotic amisulpride showed that CBD was equally effective to the antipsychotic, yet had a better side-effect profile.
FDA gives the green light to a CBD formulation
Approval of a CBD formulation for treating epilepsy (recurrent fits) in children by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) further supports the safety and non-psychoactive traits of this cannabinoid.
CBD can’t get you stoned because it doesn’t use the CB1 receptor site of THC—the site that facilitates psychoactive properties. In contrast, CBD can calm your mind and nerves because of which, it is now being studied as add-on therapy in anxiety and psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. Moreover, using a high-quality hemp-derived CBD product further tackles your concern of getting high.
Joy Smith is Joy Organics co-founder and visionary. After her own life-changing experience with CBD, Joy started Joy Organics to create a line of sustainable and premium CBD products consumers could trust.