Marijuana Leaf

Cannabis Guide: What Does CBD Feel Like?

With cannabis products slowly making their way into the homes of North Americans to treat various ailments and promote relaxation, you may be wondering about the health benefits and the psychoactive effects of CBD. It is first important to note that there are major differences between using THC and CBD. Generally, people tend to think of CBD as “non-psychoactive,” meaning it does not cause the classic euphoric “high” of its cannabinoid cousin, THC. However, CBD is not without its own potential benefits to our well-being.

So, what does CBD feel like?

In a small study, a single oral dose of 600mg of CBD was as well-tolerated as the placebo 1 Acute effects of a single, oral dose of d9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) administration in healthy volunteers. Martin-Santos, R., a Crippa, J., Batalla, A., Bhattacharyya, S., Atakan, Z., Borgwardt, S., … & Zuardi, A. W. (2012). Acute effects of a single, oral dose of d9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) administration in healthy volunteers. Current pharmaceutical design, 18(32), 4966-4979. Martin-Santos, R., a Crippa, J., Batalla, A., Bhattacharyya, S., Atakan, Z., Borgwardt, S., … & Zuardi, A. W. . CBD did not cause the same behavioral nor uncomfortable effects associated with just 10mg of oral THC such as elevated heart rate, feelings of panic and anxiety, sedation, and intoxication. Repeated studies and expert analysis dispel the myth that CBD, even in high doses, can make you feel high 2 Even High Doses of Oral Cannabidiol Do Not Cause THC-Like Effects in Humans: Comment on Merrick et al. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research 2016 Grotenhermen, F., Russo, E., & Zuardi, A. W. (2017). Even High Doses of Oral Cannabidiol Do Not Cause THC-Like Effects in Humans: Comment on Merrick et al. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research 2016; 1 (1): 102–112; DOI: 10.1089/can. 2015.0004. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 2(1), 1-4. Grotenhermen, F., Russo, E., & Zuardi, A. W. . An otherwise healthy person may say taking CBD feels like nothing – and that’s likely true. Though, others seeking an additional, potentially useful way to feel better may find improvement using CBD 3 Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders. Campos, A. C., Moreira, F. A., Gomes, F. V., Del Bel, E. A., & Guimaraes, F. S. (2012). Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 367(1607), 3364-3378 Campos, A. C., Moreira, F. A., Gomes, F. V., Del Bel, E. A., & Guimaraes, F. S. .

How Does CBD Interact with Our Body and Brain?

Let’s put this into perspective: CBD should be thought of as “non-intoxicating,” rather than “non-psychotropic.” Accumulated evidence demonstrates that, to a limited extent, CBD may positively influence issues with anxiety, trouble sleeping, psychotic symptoms, and depression. Larger, randomized controlled clinical studies are required to further determine and characterize these effects, but so far, the information collected is promising.

In our brain and spinal cord, CB1 receptors are found in abundance. Yet CBD does not directly act on them. Instead, it changes the effect that direct agents, like THC, have on CB (cannabinoid) receptors. Further pre-clinical biochemical investigation shows that CBD’s potential alleviating effects stem from its interaction with various receptors like 5HT1A (serotonin) and BDNF. This may explain some anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects. The observed antipsychotic effects of CBD in small human studies likely relates to activation of TRVP1 receptors. Many other receptors have also been identified to interact with CBD, and further clinical investigation into its possible effects on psychiatric disorders are necessary and underway.

Dosage: How Does CBD Make You Feel?

We know now that a single dose of CBD by itself, no matter how large, cannot cause euphoria or affect your cognition 1, 2 Acute effects of a single, oral dose of d9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) administration in healthy volunteers. Martin-Santos, R., a Crippa, J., Batalla, A., Bhattacharyya, S., Atakan, Z., Borgwardt, S., … & Zuardi, A. W. (2012). Acute effects of a single, oral dose of d9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) administration in healthy volunteers. Current pharmaceutical design, 18(32), 4966-4979. Martin-Santos, R., a Crippa, J., Batalla, A., Bhattacharyya, S., Atakan, Z., Borgwardt, S., … & Zuardi, A. W. . Since CBD does not directly activate CB receptors, this likely explains why there is no “high” for the consumer 5 An Introduction to the Biochemistry & Pharmacology of Medical Cannabis. DOH DCRx. (2015). An Introduction to the Biochemistry & Pharmacology of Medical Cannabis. [PowerPoint Slides]. Retrieved from: https://dchealth.dc.gov/dcrx DOH DCRx. .  CBD is generally considered safe and well-tolerated even across a wide dose range 4 Translational investigation of the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD): toward a new age. Crippa, J. A., Guimarães, F. S., Campos, A. C., & Zuardi, A. W. (2018). Translational investigation of the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD): toward a new age. Frontiers in immunology, 9, 2009. Crippa, J. A., Guimarães, F. S., Campos, A. C., & Zuardi, A. W. . The WHO echoes this finding in their latest CBD report, and also found no evidence of abuse or dependence potential for CBD 8 Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid‐terpenoid entourage effects. Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid‐terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1344-1364. Russo, E. B. . The WHO in this case is the World Health Organization and not the band responsible for every CSI theme song.

Interestingly, CBD is shown to have essentially the opposite feeling effects of THC 9, 10 Action of cannabidiol on the anxiety and other effects produced by Δ 9-THC in normal subjects. Zuardi, A. W., Shirakawa, I., Finkelfarb, E., & Karniol, I. G. (1982). Action of cannabidiol on the anxiety and other effects produced by Δ 9-THC in normal subjects. Psychopharmacology, 76(3), 245-250. Zuardi, A. W., Shirakawa, I., Finkelfarb, E., & Karniol, I. G . When combined, CBD overall tends to reduce the psychological anxiety of THC 11 THC: CBD spray and MS spasticity symptoms: data from latest studies. Rekand, T. (2014). THC: CBD spray and MS spasticity symptoms: data from latest studies. European neurology, 71(Suppl. 1), 4-9. Rekand, T. . Nevertheless, these results are a bit mixed, and the ratio doses vary. Follow-up studies done over 12 months on the 1:1 THC:CBD oral spray Sativex® (GW Pharmaceuticals) have shown neither decline in cognitive function nor negative mood impact 12 Epidiolex GW Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (2018). Epidiolex [package insert]. GW Pharmaceuticals, Inc. .

Long-term, conclusive studies exclusively on CBD and mood are yet to be done. Currently there is no evidence to support CBD as a mood stabilizer for mood disorders. It is also not yet known how CBD may affect persons who are pregnant or with specific conditions. To date, the FDA has only approved CBD in the form of Epidiolex® (GW Pharmaceuticals) as an anti-seizure medication for rare childhood seizure disorders. A small percentage (<10%) of those study patients reported CBD causing irritability and agitation 13 Medical cannabis adverse effects & drug interactions. Fugh-Berman, A., Wood, S., Kogan, M., Abrams, D., Mathre, M. L., Robie, A., … & Kasimu-Graham, J. (2019). Medical cannabis adverse effects & drug interactions. Government of the District of Columbia: Department of Health. Fugh-Berman, A., Wood, S., Kogan, M., Abrams, D., Mathre, M. L., Robie, A., … & Kasimu-Graham, J. .

CBD Tolerance & Individual Differences

While taking CBD does not cause a “high” that builds a psychological tolerance over time, our bodies may process various CBD dosages and routes differently. CBD may elevate levels of important drugs like blood thinners, antidepressants, seizure medications, and many others due to its interaction with families of significant liver enzymes 14 Hepatotoxicity of a cannabidiol-rich cannabis extract in the mouse model. Ewing, L. E., Skinner, C. M., Quick, C. M., Kennon-McGill, S., McGill, M. R., Walker, L. A., … & Koturbash, I. (2019). Hepatotoxicity of a cannabidiol-rich cannabis extract in the mouse model. Molecules, 24(9), 1694. Ewing, L. E., Skinner, C. M., Quick, C. M., Kennon-McGill, S., McGill, M. R., Walker, L. A., … & Koturbash, I. . In the U.S. FDA trials for Epidiolex and in mouse models, high dose CBD (2.5-20 mg/kg) caused high liver enzymes in a small portion of subjects, likely indicating liver damage 13, 15 Medical cannabis adverse effects & drug interactions. Fugh-Berman, A., Wood, S., Kogan, M., Abrams, D., Mathre, M. L., Robie, A., … & Kasimu-Graham, J. (2019). Medical cannabis adverse effects & drug interactions. Government of the District of Columbia: Department of Health. Fugh-Berman, A., Wood, S., Kogan, M., Abrams, D., Mathre, M. L., Robie, A., … & Kasimu-Graham, J. . However, this damage was reversible in two-thirds of Epidiolex patients with dose reduction or cessation if necessary 13 Medical cannabis adverse effects & drug interactions. Fugh-Berman, A., Wood, S., Kogan, M., Abrams, D., Mathre, M. L., Robie, A., … & Kasimu-Graham, J. (2019). Medical cannabis adverse effects & drug interactions. Government of the District of Columbia: Department of Health. Fugh-Berman, A., Wood, S., Kogan, M., Abrams, D., Mathre, M. L., Robie, A., … & Kasimu-Graham, J. .

While such high levels may not be necessary nor practical for the average cannabis plant consumers to achieve of feel the effects they desire, you should always tell your doctor before considering a CBD regimen. They know your medical history and may decide to adjust medication dosages or routinely monitor your liver enzymes. Never abruptly stop or decrease your own medication dose without speaking to your healthcare provider first. Variables like history, height, weight, biological gender, prescriptions, CBD dose, and liver enzyme activity means that CBD dosing is not an exact science for everyone.

As with consuming THC, CBD should also be dosed in a manner that is “slow and low”– and gradually built up over time if needed, ideally under supervision of your physician. Since there has yet to be established CBD dosing guidelines, a reasonable dose to start would be about 0.1-0.5 mg/kg, meaning an average person of 80kg (176 lbs) should start with a low dose between 8-40mg, and go from there until desired effects are achieved. The most common side effects of CBD include drowsiness, reduced appetite, diarrhea, and high liver enzymes 13 Medical cannabis adverse effects & drug interactions. Fugh-Berman, A., Wood, S., Kogan, M., Abrams, D., Mathre, M. L., Robie, A., … & Kasimu-Graham, J. (2019). Medical cannabis adverse effects & drug interactions. Government of the District of Columbia: Department of Health. Fugh-Berman, A., Wood, S., Kogan, M., Abrams, D., Mathre, M. L., Robie, A., … & Kasimu-Graham, J. . Here, “slow and low” does not refer to the Beastie Boys song.

Smoking weed

How Long Does it Take CBD to Work?

Generally, CBD takes effect within a few weeks – but there is some evidence it can also work within hours. The exact answer can’t be known and depends on what your goal of taking it is, in addition to physical and dosing variables. In a couple of small public speaking studies, CBD in doses of 300mg and 600mg given 90 mins before stress was able to reduce situational social anxiety 16 17 Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naive social phobia patients. Bergamaschi, M. M., Queiroz, R. H. C., Chagas, M. H. N., De Oliveira, D. C. G., De Martinis, B. S., Kapczinski, F., … & Martín-Santos, R. (2011). Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naive social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology, 36(6), 1219-1226 Bergamaschi, M. M., Queiroz, R. H. C., Chagas, M. H. N., De Oliveira, D. C. G., De Martinis, B. S., Kapczinski, F., … & Martín-Santos, R. . These data are limited and somewhat contradictory since the former study did not find beneficial effects with 600mg of CBD. Therefore, larger investigations are needed to determine proper dosing and indications.

When it comes to depression, previous data is very limited, but a new mouse model study found CBD produced rapid antidepressant effects within 30 mins at doses of 7-30mg/kg 17, 18 The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: The current state of evidence and recommendations for research. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: The current state of evidence and recommendations for research. National Academies Press. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. . Of course, it is still too early to prove anything conclusive in humans, and you should never stop taking antidepressants on your own without speaking to your provider first.

In a large case series of patients with anxiety and sleep issues, subjective improvement in these categories was observed after the first month, and sustained until the end of the 3rd month 19 Cannabidiol: from an inactive cannabinoid to a drug with wide spectrum of action. Zuardi, A. W. (2008). Cannabidiol: from an inactive cannabinoid to a drug with wide spectrum of action. Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, 30(3), 271-280. Zuardi, A. W. . Note that this was not a well-controlled clinical trial – there was no placebo group for comparison and the people involved knew they were taking CBD (an “open-label” study), leaving room for bias. Epidiolex patients also saw improvements in seizures within 4 weeks 13 Medical cannabis adverse effects & drug interactions. Fugh-Berman, A., Wood, S., Kogan, M., Abrams, D., Mathre, M. L., Robie, A., … & Kasimu-Graham, J. (2019). Medical cannabis adverse effects & drug interactions. Government of the District of Columbia: Department of Health. Fugh-Berman, A., Wood, S., Kogan, M., Abrams, D., Mathre, M. L., Robie, A., … & Kasimu-Graham, J. . If you are new to CBD, taking small-moderate doses regularly over several weeks may be useful for your wellness.

Several factors influence how CBD will make you feel. Whether you take CBD gummies or try lollipops, it’s important to check with a healthcare professional before upping your dosage.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does CBD feel like?

A healthy consumer would likely say, “Nothing!”. Data shows CBD is non-intoxicating and has generally opposite effects of THC. CBD is of special research interest for multiple conditions including psychiatric afflictions – but has yet to be confirmed.

 

What are some common medical reasons for taking CBD?

So far, the only approved clinical indications for taking CBD are the rare childhood seizure disorders called Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndrome. Other individuals may take CBD as a potentially alleviating and anecdotally beneficial compound to improve their subjective wellbeing – notwithstanding only having promising, yet pre-clinical data at this time.

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