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What Does CBD Oil Feel Like?

By now, you’ve surely heard about CBD oil - from friends, family members, coworkers, strangers’ conversations waiting in line at the grocery store, and the internet (of course the internet, especially social media). So what is it? Does it work? How does it work? How does cannabidiol make you feel?

In today’s article, we’ll take a look into what CBD is, what it does, and how it feels.

If you were to ask a random person on the street if they knew what marijuana is and what’s the main compound in it, most people would be able to tell you. THC, the psychoactive component of the marijuana plant, is well-known to those who’ve tried it as well as those who, well, haven’t. Since THC is an active compound in the cannabis plant, having those psychoactive properties, users can experience a euphoric feeling or “high” feeling if ingested or inhaled.

So I’m sure you’re wondering, is cannabidiol from the cannabis plant too? What does it feel like to have CBD? What will it do to my body? First and foremost, cannabidiol is not a psychoactive compound (unlike THC). Thus, it will not get you “high” or provide you any mind-altering effects. 

Beginning users typically have the same rounds of questions, the most commonly asked is: “how exactly does it feel when you take CBD?”

Cannabidiol has become increasingly available across the United States as well as worldwide in several applications. As the stigma and views around the cannabis plant continue to change and evolve, more and more studies are being done involving cannabis. People are becoming increasingly curious about endocannabinoid products, it’s no wonder that word is spreading like wildfire. 

Instead of experiencing that euphoric feeling, pure CBD oil provides non-psychoactive effects, no “high” included. More so, many people report feeling nothing at all, quite frankly. Users describe cannabidiol as providing comfort and relaxation, feeling clear-minded. 

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) was first established after the finding of cellular membrane receptors responsible for the psychoactivity in Cannabis and their protein receptors. Established in the mid-1990s, this discovery indicated a whole new signaling system, comprised of cannabinoid receptors, enzymes, and protein receptors. 

Researchers are still trying to fully understand the endocannabinoid system. However, thus far, researchers do know that the ECS does play a role in regulating processes and functions within the body. 

Even if you don’t use cannabis, the ECS exists and is active in your body. Everyday. 

Think of the ECS as being comprised of three parts: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. The endocannabinoid receptors can be found throughout your body. Endocannabinoids bind to these receptors, signaling the ECS, taking action. 

Also called endogenous cannabinoids, endocannabinoids are molecules made by your body every day. Very similar to cannabinoids, endocannabinoids are produced in your body (endo, meaning within).

Two important endocannabinoids that have been identified by experts are:

  1. 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG)
  2. Anandamide (AEA)

These two endocannabinoids keep your internal processes and functions running smoothly. Your body produces these as needed - it’s difficult to know which levels are needed for each endocannabinoid. * Side note, more research needed, please*. 

Diving further, there are two main endocannabinoid receptors: 1) CB1 and 2) CB2. CB1 receptors are mostly (& mainly) found in the central nervous system in the brain. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are mostly found in the peripheral nervous system, including the lymphatic system. 

Endocannabinoids are free to bind to either receptor. Depending on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid it binds to will determine the effects that will follow. 

For instance, if endocannabinoids target CB2 receptors within the lymphatic system, within immune cells, they may notify your body that you’re experiencing inflammation. If CB1 receptors are targeted by endocannabinoids in the nervous system, they may notify your body that you’re experiencing pain.

Once endocannabinoids have done what they need to do, enzymes break them down. Two main enzymes that are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids are monoacylglycerol acid lipase and fatty acid amide hydrolase. Monoacylglycerol acid lipase typically breaks down the 2-AG endocannabinoid. And as you guessed it, fatty acid amide hydrolase breaks down the AEA endocannabinoid. 

H2: How Does the ECS Work?

The ECS is complicated and a lot is still unknown about this magical system. Experts still haven’t quite yet determined exactly how it all works or its potential functions. 

Research studies have linked the ECS to a whole slew of processes and functions within the body such as:

  • Muscle formation
  • LIver function
  • Reproductive system function
  • Sleep
  • Motor control
  • Mood
  • Learning and memory
  • Chronic pain
  • Metabolism
  • Appetite and digestion
  • Inflammation and other immune system responses
  • Skin health
  • Stress
  • Nerve function

These functions and processes listed above all contribute to our homeostasis, referring to our internal environment controller. For instance, pain from an injury may offset the body’s homeostasis. However, the ECS can kick in and help your body return to its ideal functions and operations. 

Is there still work to be done in scientific research? Absolutely! The research that has been done in regards to the ECS is holding promise though, stay tuned. 

How Does THC and CBD Differ?

As briefly mentioned above, THC causes a euphoric feeling, and CBD, well, doesn’t. But how, you ask? Each of these cannabinoids interacts with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) differently in our bodies. Our ECS is a key player in numerous and important physiological functions. For instance, the ECS helps regulate appetite, pain, inflammation, sleep, and mood. Receptors within the ECS are found predominantly in the central nervous system and the lymphatic system. These two systems are influenced by the all-natural cannabinoids in the body. 

Two major cannabinoids that interact with the ECS - tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. When these cannabinoids are consumed, they provide different effects on the body. THC creates mind-altering effects for users because of its direct binding to the CB1 and CB2 receptors within the ECS. The CB1 and CB2 receptors are primarily found in the brain (within the central nervous system). When THC activates these receptors, users may experience a “high” feeling - thanks to the psychoactive effects of the compound.

On the flip side, cannabidiol does not bind directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors to activate the ECS. However, cannabidiol does interact indirectly with the CB1 and CB2 receptors and influences them in other ways. CBD typically influences these receptors indirectly through the upregulation of compounds, such as anandamide, interacting with ECS receptors. Due to the fact that cannabidiol does not bind directly with the receptors, it does not cause users to be “high” or “stoned”. Quite the contrary, CBD oil has demonstrated to counteract the mind-altering effects produced by THC, thus, cannabidiol can be considered an “anti-marijuana”. 

While the details of how THC and CBD interact with the ECS are still under construction, research is suggesting that each compound reacts differently and may provide different support to ailments. 

Do Different Types of CBD Affect How You Feel?

Here’s where people may get confused. You search ‘CBD Oil’ online, and bam, hundreds of results come up with pages and pages to explore. It might be difficult to tell the difference from one CBD product to another. But, do note, not all cannabidiol will make you feel the same. More so, the effects may actually differ drastically from one CBD product to another, depending on where it’s derived from. 

CBD Isolate

Cannabidiol isolate is a powder or crystalline solid that is 99% pure CBD. Through the extraction process, the active compounds of cannabis can be removed. Following this extraction, a refinement process continues to strip away all other phytocannabinoids, including any THC. Thus, leaving cannabidiol in its pure, powdered form. 

Broad-Spectrum CBD

CBD that is described as broad-spectrum has been extracted from the cannabis plant with all including compounds besides THC. Broad-spectrum includes essential oils, terpenes, and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. 

Also, since there is no THC present, taking broad-spectrum CBD oil should not show up on a drug test. However, more research is needed to be done. 

Full-Spectrum CBD 

Not to get confused with broad-spectrum CBD, full-spectrum CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant with all other compounds included: terpenes, cannabinoids, essential oils, and THC. Since THC is present, this contribution from the plant may cause psychoactive effects. Full-spectrum does not go through the additional extraction process that broad-spectrum does, hence, full-spectrum contains THC.

Hemp vs Marijuana Derived CBD

There are two main family members of the cannabis plant - marijuana and hemp. There’s a sneaky little difference between these two plants, deriving in their chemical makeup, leading to two very different and contrasting effects. 

Marijuana plants have thick foliage and flowers, typically grown with higher levels of THC (and less CBD). Marijuana-derived cannabidiol typically contains much higher levels of THC than hemp-derived CBD products. Marijuana-derived cannabidiol products are legally available in medical marijuana states but are still illegal on the federal level. 

On the other hand, hemp plants are grown for their seeds and fibers, being skinny and lean in foliage. Hemp-derived products are considered legal under federal law, as long as the plant contains less than 0.3% THC. Thus, hemp-derived CBD will have little to no THC present, preventing users from feeling any “high” from this cannabinoid.

Although some users may want to avoid this intoxicating feeling commonly associated with THC, it’s important to note that CBD and THC, together, have demonstrated a synergistic relationship. Taking in tandem, THC and CBD have been commonly referred to as having an “entourage effect”. When Cannabidiol is ingested alongside THC, people tend to experience less anxiety and paranoia associated with high levels of THC. 

When it comes to the potential effects of CBD oil products, we’re not only looking at marijuana-derived and hemp-derived products but also additional cannabinoid compounds and ingredients (or a lack of). The combination and ingredients within your products may play a significant role in your cannabis experience. Thus, there are some major differences between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. More on this in a minute.  

How CBD Feels: Final Thoughts

It depends. Like we discussed above, cannabidiol products can look similar to one another. It’s important to research whether or not the cannabidiol products are marijuana-derived or hemp-derived. You may experience different feelings or effects of CBD products, depending on where it was derived from as well as the spectrum of the cannabidiol. Again, the effects of CBD products depending, the type and quality of the product, the dosage taken, as well as individual-specific characteristics.

-- Written by Kirsten Thornhill

Human Physiologist | Content Writer | Lifestyle Medicine Advocate
Kirsten Thornhill was born and raised in a small town in Northern California. She graduated with her Bachelors from CSU Stanislaus in Turlock, CA in Kinesiology Exercise Physiology and her Masters from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA in Kinesiology Exercise Physiology. Kirsten is very passionate about human physiology and the metabolic and nutritional adaptations that occur in athletes. She has specialized in teaching clinical and practical exercise and rehabilitation applications. She enjoys educating and informing people on the importance of lifetime movement, holistic and lifestyle medicine, and health research and development. Her passion for alternative medicine enables her to strive when promoting health and education.

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