Does CBD Get You High?
There’s a new kid on the block: CBD. You’ve seen signs around town exclaiming that it’s available. As far as you can tell, some derivative of cannabis. There are gummy worms made of it. The people buying it seem like “getting high” people. So, does CBD get you high? Is that the secret? Well, in a word, “no.” It does not. And we’ll explain why.
How Does THC Cause a High?
Perhaps you’re looking for a little pick-me-up (or calm-me-down) and want that in a supplement. But more likely, if you’re asking if CBD gets you high, you’re looking for a non-intoxicating pain remedy. You may want to use it at work; you may not like a “high” feeling; you may not want certain people thinking you’re getting stoned.
For whatever reason, to understand how and why CBD doesn’t cause a “high,” one must see how THC—the psychoactive part of marijuana—does cause a high. First, let’s spell out that THC is delta-9-tetraydrocannabinoid, a particular compound in many cannabis plants. Its receptor in the human brain is the CB1 or Cannabinoid Type 1 receptor. These receptors are largely responsible for pleasure and rewards. The reward system lights up when someone gives us a big compliment, we eat a slice of pizza from our favorite pizza place, we have sex, etc. In fact, there’s a degree to which is gets a lot of activity when we are scared, as in while riding a roller coaster, which is why someone would do that in the first place.
The long and the short of it is that because THC has a very real impact on our pleasure and reward centers, it produces a “high.”
Why Does CBD NOT Cause a High?
Both THC and CBD are Cannabinoids, chemicals that work with, not just our reward system, but the rest of the Endocannabinoid system too, which includes a lot of regulatory functions. This is how the two are “cousins,” if you will. But there is no THC in CBD—CBD is extracted from Cannabis plants that have a THC concentration of less than 0.3% (also known as hemp).
Well, CB1 is the receptor for THC, and CBD has its own receptor, predictably named CB2. In short, the work of CB2 receptors isn’t psychoactive. It doesn’t take place in the pre-frontal cortex and therefore doesn’t involve higher-level decision-making functions.
So What Does CBD Do In the Body?
OK, CBD doesn’t get you high. What happens when it begins to course through one’s system and finds those CB2 receptors? Well, one main benefit CBD has for us it that’s an anti-inflammatory. An inflammation is, by definition, an imbalance, something that throws us out of homeostasis. CBD helps restore balance, in part by promoting the natural cannabinoids produced in our bodies. This is so important because inflammation is a prominent figure in conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, sciatica, and some headaches.
Naturally, CBD is to be associated with the ECS and its CB2 receptors. However, it also has the ability to bind with other receptors. And that is one of the biggest things about CBD. For one, it has the ability to bind with opioid receptors. Now, when a relatively-mild substance like CBD finds some bonds with opioid receptors, it doesn’t do anything nearly as dramatic as heroin does. But, without being addictive and while being much less dangerous, CBD does something that Fentanyl and other opioids do—it relieves pain. So, it is more medicinal than recreational, with pain relief rather than psychoactive action. Many people use it to ease themselves off of prescription opioids, and find it to be valuable in that role.
A second type of receptor that CBD is now increasingly-known to bind with is serotonin receptors. Serotonin helps people experience sensations of positivity, hope, less anxiety, etc. For this reason, CBD is becoming associated with anti-depressant properties, though it’s an area still under study.
Therefore, we can see that CBD generally makes people feel good—but because it isn’t binding with CB1 it doesn’t cause a high. This should be a relief to folks who are afraid of being impaired while at work, while driving, etc. A “high” can fairly be described as a matter of various brain cells being interfered with or thrown somewhat out of balance, just in a way that happens to produce euphoria. What CBD does involves bringing things into a balance, so pleasant sensations one feels are due to the brain and central nervous system being brought much closer to their correct functioning.
CBD and Relaxation
As we continue to explore how CBD makes a person feel, another benefit to a lot of people is relaxation or a lack of stress. This is where we have to continue to remember that CBD works with a natural part of our systems, the ECS, which gives us the incredible and indispensable benefit of homeostasis. We have fight-or-flight impulses in our brain to help us recognize danger and get revved up enough to spring into action. In a world with very little in the way of wild animals coming after us or other attacks, a mild form of this response being triggered is experienced as stress.
In short, CBD makes sure that our stress chemicals aren’t cranked up too high When a person takes a moderate to large amount of CBD throughout the day, he or she will probably feel “mellow” or relaxed. Ideally, this won’t come with drowsiness. While people often take CBD for insomnia, that doesn’t make it a sedative—it’s not a knock-out pill, but an anti-stressor. Stress is essentially the main cause of insomnia, so CBD helps a person who can’t get to sleep by relieving stress. Actual mileage will vary, but people generally enjoy relaxation from CBD without also feeling drowsy or sleepy.
Therefore, it is true that after taking CBD, people will feel, in addition to pain relief, some pleasant sensations. However, it’s not a “high” that can be confused with impairment.