You may know it doesn’t get you high, but how does CBD make you feel?
Photography by James Carrusca McCowan for Herb
For years, I was a concentrate-loving, daily herbivore. But, perhaps due to age or simply a change of interest, I found myself consuming cannabis more sparingly and opting for very different products. The newest go-to in my household stash? Cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD products, like Elixinol CBD extract, are available in local stores and online as tinctures and oil infusions. These infusions can be taken like a dietary supplement, enjoyed by consumers in low to moderate doses either regularly or as-needed. But how does CBD make you feel, really? The subtle effects of the cannabinoid may surprise you.
Unlike its more famous relative, THC, CBD does not produce intoxication. That doesn’t mean, however, that the compound won’t have affected your mind. The experience that CBD provides is far more subtle. While high-THC cannabis products can hit like a shot of whiskey, CBD works its magic in almost unnoticeable ways. Rather than feeling an immediate euphoria or sense of happiness, you may notice an absence of negative feelings and emotions after trying CBD.
Where there was once anxiety, the cannabinoid inspires calm. Where there was tension, CBD cultivates a sense of ease.
After taking a look at the science, it’s no surprise that CBD inspires very different effects on the human body from its intoxicating sibling. The latter produces a psychotropic effect by hijacking the landing sites for neurotransmitters that the body produces naturally. CBD, on the other hand, boosts circulation of these neurotransmitters.
The resulting experience is less pronounced than THC, but that certainly isn’t a bad thing. The effects of THC are often so strong that they provoke anxiety. CBD avoids these side effects, offering consumers an improved sense of well-being and bliss.
There’s even evidence to suggest that the non-intoxicating cannabinoid can reduce the psychoactive effects of THC. After consuming a little too much THC, placing a product like Elixinol’s CBD extract under the tongue may help ease anxiety, paranoia, and overall feelings of intoxication.
One of the most prominent effects of CBD concerns anxiety. Anxiety itself can be a tricky emotion, often sneaking up on you and influencing behavior without your knowledge. Yet sometimes, it is the absence of anxiety that makes you realize that it has been there all along. For many, CBD may offer a few moments of peace during times of stress and unease.
In fact, a growing body of evidence suggests that CBD is a potent anxiolytic. This is, perhaps, partly due to how the cannabis compound works in the body. The neurotransmitters targeted by cannabis compounds called endocannabinoids are naturally abundant in the brain. These neurotransmitters are prominent in regions of the brain associated with fear and memory. Theory has it that, by preventing the break-down of these endocannabinoids, CBD produces a calming effect.
“I find using CBD, particularly oils or capsules, really helps take the edge off of my anxiety and return me to my pre-agitated state,” says Dan, an impassioned cannabis lover and editor at Herb.
While there is much research left to do, this is, in fact, how CBD makes you feel: calm, contented, and free of agitation. In an early proof-of-concept, clinical trial, high doses of CBD were found to be effective enough at relieving agitation that they reduced psychotic symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia.
While psychosis is undoubtedly an extreme case, the same calming properties of CBD are often beloved by consumers with more generalized anxiety and daily stresses. “CBD has been the most effective method of relieving my anxiety,” says Robin, an HR representative at a growing company.
“I have regular anxiety that manifests as a tightness in my chest and panic attacks that feel like being trapped in a turtleneck in the summer – to put it lightly. When I feel the tightness in my chest starting, I’ll take some CBD. Within 30 minutes the tight grip of overwhelming anxiety releases my chest and I can breathe a little easier. Within an hour I feel like myself again. CBD has relieved my anxiety in ways that meditation, breathing techniques, and prescription pills never did. I wish I had found it earlier, but I’m glad I have it now.”
The absence of anxiety and irritability is not the only way that CBD influences your body and mind. Early research suggests that the cannabis compound may also lift the mood. Simply stated, CBD can make you feel, well, just plain good. Trials have found that the cannabis compound produces rapid anti-depressant effects, engaging serotonin receptors much like common antidepressant drugs.
The mood-lifting properties of CBD are a topic of interest for researchers studying the plant. A growing body of anecdotal evidence also supports the supplement’s mood-boosting properties—my anecdote included. While CBD certainly is not a cure for a serious case of the blues, the supplement is one of my favorite tools for helping me clear my head and change the tune of my thoughts. While CBD is not euphoric like THC, the clear-headed and contented experience it provides have offered me a simple way to shift my frame of mind in times of need.
As a word of caution, however, those receiving treatment for clinical depression should consult their medical care provider before supplementing with CBD. A care provider will be able to monitor symptoms for signs of relapse and discuss proper dosage control for CBD products. For general stress and kicking back after a long day, however, CBD supplementation just might be worth a try.
CBD, at least in the standard doses, is considered relaxing but not a sedative. If you’re hyped up and stressed out, the cannabinoid might help you unwind. It is unlikely, however, to make you feel sleepy or overly sedated when consumed in moderation. In fact, it may even promote feelings of mental alertness. The relaxed yet clear-headed properties of CBD make it an excellent choice for both daytime and nighttime consumption.
Though CBD itself is not tranquilizing, many consumers find that it is relaxing enough to improve sleep, Dan says. “I never feel high at the time, or like I’m drowsy,” he shares. “I just feel able to relax my mind and stay asleep. In the morning I never feel groggy or slower like some THC strains often leave me feeling.”
For those that need a little help unwinding before bed, sublingual oils like Elixinol can be placed under the tongue or mixed in with some tea about 30 minutes before you’re ready to hit the hay. If daytime relief from anxiety and grogginess is more your style, CBD oil can also be mixed with coffee for a smooth yet energized experience.
Evidence suggests that CBD acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, reducing pain goes hand-in-hand with inflammation. While more research is needed to determine just how effective CBD is with more advanced medical conditions, many consumers find that the cannabinoid is helpful the for mild to moderate aches and pains that occur in daily life. The dreadful symptoms of the menstrual cycle are among them.
“I’ve tried everything to relieve the painful symptoms that come with PMS each month,” says Robin. “Over-the-counter pain relievers, herbal teas, hot water bottles, birth control pills, you name it. Nothing ever worked for me. That all changed this year when I started using topical CBD balms.” During menstruation, uterine tissue becomes inflamed and intense muscle contractions can wreak havoc on organs throughout the region.
“Within minutes [of trying CBD], I began to feel relief and with continued use throughout my usual week of horror, my pain subsided completely. No pain reliever has ever given me relief so quickly. A layer of balm provides me with relief for a few hours. Before CBD, my PMS symptoms would force me to take time off work or stop living my normal life. I’m able to go about my day now without worry and don’t have the grogginess from pain relief pills.”
While relief from anxiety, stress, and general aches and pains are all common reasons why consumers pick up CBD, there are a few things to keep in mind before you buy. First, everyone responds differently to CBD. The general effects mentioned here are common, but they are not guaranteed. While CBD may be a potent stress-reducer for some consumers, it is important to make note of how the supplement affects your individual health.
Secondly, the felt effects of CBD are mild in low to moderate doses. In high doses, however, consumers are more likely to experience noticeable differences with CBD. Higher doses of the supplement are more likely to cause sedation, for example. They may also produce more noticeable cognitive effects, such as a more profound sense of tranquility.
Last but not least, not all CBD oils are created equal. It is always recommended to buy your CBD oil from a reputable brand, like Elixinol. Elixinol’s CBD oil has been third-party laboratory tested and is made from organic hemp plants. Each product contains less than 0.3 percent THC, ensuring that there is little risk of intoxication with their products. From oils to tinctures, capsules, and topicals, Elixinol offers a wide variety of safe CBD products from which to choose. While CBD oils and products are great for fighting stress and shifting your attitude on a bad day, remember to always work with a doctor if you have serious medical concerns.