Does CBD Get You High?
Popularly used by medicine men and women, shamans and even artists, queens and emperors throughout the ages, cannabis is well known for its intoxicating effects when consumed. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for this “high” is well known, but more recently, THC’s cousin cannabidiol (CBD) has been receiving a lot of attention too.
The reason for this is that there is as a growing body of evidence is showing that CBD has a wide range of therapeutic effects. Everyone from children with epilepsy, to the elderly suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and everyone in between seem to be using it right now, leading many people to want to find out more.
One of the first questions we’re asked is “Will CBD get me high?”
CBD is psychoactive but not intoxicating
Before we into the nitty-gritty, it’s important to clarify a few terms first…
As you dive into the CBD subject, you’ll see a lot of information about CBD being non-psychoactive. However, technically speaking, this is not entirely true.
A psychoactive substance is anything that changes brain function, resulting in changes in mood, perception, cognition, and/or behavior. And although this sounds very similar to intoxication, the subtle difference is that all intoxicating substances are psychoactive, but not all psychoactive substances are intoxicating.
Think of it as the difference between coffee and alcohol. Coffee is psychoactive in the sense that it causes changes in mood, perception, cognition and behaviour - you feel alert, refreshed and energized. Alcohol on the other hand also causes those changes, but in a way that - although pleasurable - can cause functional impairments. And CBD and THC are the same - CBD is the coffee while THC is the alcohol.
So, Why The Difference?
Because both CBD and THC are found in the cannabis plant and THC get’s you high, a lot of people still think that these two cannabinoids work the same way and that CBD can get you high too. However, as mentioned, CBD and THC are two very different types of cannabinoids, each having a different interaction and impact on the body, the brain and the receptors in something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS)..
Without getting too technical, simply put, THC activates the CB1 receptors in the brain areas associated with euphoria, relaxation, anxiety, and memory. In contrast CBD is a CB1 antagonist, meaning that CBD actually modulates and/or blocks any intoxicating impact caused by the CB1 receptors.
So not only does CBD not get you high, it actually stops compounds such as THC from getting you too high too. This is why medical cannabis patients who do not want to experience impairment are advised to also take a good dose of CBD to inhibit the negative effects of THC.
So even though we’ve established that CBD won’t make you feel high, it is still has powerful psychoactive effects. It is also these effects account for CBD’s therapeutic benefits, helping relieve the symptoms of a wide variety of psychiatric, mood and anxiety disorders in a similar way that anti-psychotics and anti-depressant do. So if you want to take a dose of CBD before work, it could be a helpful tool to implement when you perform and keep calm through the day, but without the dry mouth and paranoia that comes with a regular “high".