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Does CBD Get You High?

Does CBD get you high? The short answer is no. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating compound found in the cannabis plant that does not produce the psychoactive effects commonly associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

In this article, we will delve deeper into the differences between CBD and THC, their chemical structures, effects on the brain, legal status, and usage. We will also explore how CBD interacts with the body, examine its ability to influence THC's psychoactive effects and debunk common myths surrounding this incredible cannabinoid.

Finally, we will provide guidance on choosing the right high-quality CBD products for your needs. By understanding the distinctions between CBD and THC, as well as the various ways they interact with our bodies, you can make informed decisions about incorporating these compounds into your wellness routine.

Understanding the Differences Between CBD and THC

In this section, we will explore the key differences between CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), two primary compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant. We will discuss their chemical structures, effects on the brain, and legal status and usage. By understanding these distinctions, we can better comprehend why CBD does not produce a "high" similar to that of THC.

Understanding CBD's Chemical Structure and Its Effects on the Brain

Cannabidiol (CBD) distinguishes itself by not producing any intoxicating effects. Unlike its cousin, THC, CBD does not initiate a euphoric "high", making it an attractive compound for numerous studies.

Chemically, CBD is a 21-carbon molecule, which makes it slightly different from THC, which is a 21-carbon molecule but has a closed ring structure. In contrast, CBD has an open ring structure with two additional oxygen atoms. This minor difference in molecular structure significantly influences how each compound interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our bodies.

The ECS consists of a network of cannabinoid receptors, mainly CB1 and CB2, spread throughout our bodies, including the brain. THC binds directly with the CB1 receptors in the brain, leading to psychoactive effects. Conversely, CBD doesn't directly bind with either CB1 or CB2 receptors. Instead, it influences the ECS indirectly and modulates several non-cannabinoid receptors and ion channels.

Specifically, CBD seems to inhibit the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), an enzyme that breaks down and reduces the amount of endocannabinoid, anandamide, in our brain. By inhibiting FAAH, CBD allows anandamide to persist longer, raising the endocannabinoid tone in the body and reducing any endocannabinoid deficiency.

Furthermore, CBD is also known to amplify the release of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that decreases neuronal excitability, promoting calmness and relaxation.

THC's Chemical Structure and Its Impact on the Brain

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the main psychoactive component found in the cannabis plant. Its chemical structure is quite similar to CBD with a crucial difference - THC possesses a cyclic ring, allowing it to bind directly with CB1 receptors in the brain. This interaction results in the euphoric and intoxicating effects, or the "high," synonymous with cannabis consumption.

When THC binds with CB1 receptors, it inhibits the release of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This inhibition triggers nearby neurons to release a higher level of dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to feelings of pleasure and reward. The resultant surge of dopamine is responsible for the euphoria and positive feelings associated with cannabis use.

However, THC's interaction with the brain doesn't stop there. It has been observed to alter the connectivity of the brain and potentially affect the volume of specific brain regions involved in executive functions like learning, memory, and impulse control, signifying the profound impact it can have on users.


Legal Status and Usage of CBD in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the CBD legal framework is meticulous. Unlike THC and other controlled cannabinoids, CBD itself is not considered a controlled substance. This means CBD can be legally produced, sold, and possessed in the UK, provided it completely lacks all controlled cannabinoids, including THC and CBN (cannabinol).

Regulations mandate that approved nonprescription CBD products must be free from controlled cannabinoids, not just restricted to trace amounts. This ensures that consumers can enjoy the potential benefits of CBD without exposure to substances that could have psychoactive effects or present other regulatory concerns.

Adding to the regulations surrounding CBD in the UK is the classification of hemp-derived CBD products as 'Novel Foods' by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), including CBD oils. A novel food is defined as food or food ingredients that were not widely consumed in the EU before May 1997. The FSA confirmed the novel food status of CBD in January 2019.

Any company intending to sell CBD for ingestion or use in food and drink must have its products evaluated and authorised as safe under the Novel Foods Regulation. The deadline for companies to submit a valid novel food application was March 31, 2021, and only those products linked to a validated application are permitted to remain on the market. The FSA enforced this regulation to ensure all CBD-infused food products (including CBD oils) meet stringent food safety standards, protecting consumer health and interests.

In the United Kingdom, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is listed as a Class B controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. This classification places strict limitations on activities related to THC, including possession, distribution, and cultivation. Regardless of the type of cannabis from which it's derived - marijuana or hemp - any cannabis plant or CBD product containing any quantity of THC falls under these restrictions.

There are, however, specific exceptions to these stringent laws for certain medical situations. Following a revision to the law in November 2018, cannabis-derived medicinal products, potentially containing THC, can be prescribed by specialist doctors under very specific and controlled circumstances.

CBD vs THC Feeling

In this section, we will explore the differences between CBD and THC in terms of their psychoactive effects, physical sensations, and cognitive impact. By understanding these distinctions, we can better comprehend how each compound interacts with our bodies and affects our overall well-being.

Psychoactive Effects: Distinguishing Between THC and CBD

THC, the most abundant compound in cannabis, is renowned for its potent psychoactive properties, giving users the characteristic "high" commonly associated with cannabis consumption. As one regular cannabis user described, "When I use products high in THC, I feel a sense of euphoria and a heightened sensory awareness. The world seems brighter and more interesting."

THC's psychoactive effects stem from its ability to bind directly to the CB1 receptors in the brain, influencing functions such as pain perception, mood, and sleep, among others. The result can be feelings of relaxation, heightened mood, and altered perceptions.

CBD, on the other hand, impacts the mind quite differently. While CBD does influence brain function, it does not produce an intoxicating or disorienting effect. CBD does not bind directly to CB1 or CB2 receptors like THC. Instead, it modifies the ability of these receptors to bind to cannabinoids, including THC. Therefore, CBD can often moderate the effects of THC. Users often report a more subtle, calming experience with CBD. As one user said, "When I take CBD, I don't feel 'high'. Instead, I feel relaxed, calm, and focused."


Physical Sensations and Well-being: Comparing CBD and THC

THC and CBD elicit distinct physical sensations and influence overall well-being due to their unique interactions with the body's endocannabinoid system. THC, as the predominant compound in cannabis, is known for its psychoactive properties that can often result in various physical sensations. One user explains, "When I consume THC, my muscles feel relaxed and tension melts away. It's like a soothing massage for my body." Another user shares, "THC provides a warming sensation that permeates through my joints, relieving any discomfort or stiffness."

On the other hand, CBD elicits a similar yet milder set of physical sensations. Users often report specific feelings within their bodies that contribute to their overall well-being. One individual describes, "CBD creates a subtle cooling sensation on my skin, leaving it feeling refreshed and rejuvenated." Another user adds, "I notice a gentle tingling sensation in my muscles after using CBD as if they're being gently stimulated and revitalised."

Comparing the physical effects of CBD and THC, it's clear that THC is associated with relaxation and relief from muscle tension, while CBD offers a gentle, soothing experience for the body. The distinct physical sensations produced by CBD contribute to the overall well-being felt by regular consumers.

Cognitive Impact and Mental State: Distinguishing THC from CBD

The cognitive effects and the influence on mental state by THC and CBD also contrast markedly. With THC, some users may experience short-term cognitive difficulties, such as issues with verbal learning, working memory, and emotional processing. A regular THC user told us, "Sometimes when I've consumed a lot of THC, I find it hard to remember things or struggle with complex thoughts."

In contrast, CBD is thought to limit the effects of overstimulation by THC. As one cannabis user observed, "I find that when I use a strain high in CBD, I don't have the same memory issues as when I use a high-THC strain."

These distinctions in psychoactive effects, physical sensations, and cognitive impact are crucial when considering the use of these compounds, highlighting the importance of understanding the nuanced differences between THC and CBD.

CBD's Interaction with the Body

This section delves into the complex interactions between cannabidiol (CBD) and the human body. By examining CBD's connection with cannabinoid receptors and its influence on the nervous system, we can gain valuable insights into its functioning and potential uses.

CBD's Connection with Cannabinoid Receptors

As introduced earlier in this article, our bodies host an intricate cell-signalling network known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS plays a key role in regulating a wide array of physiological processes, including mood, pain perception, and immune response. Two types of receptors primarily constitute the ECS: CB1 and CB2 receptors. Both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD interact with these receptors, but the nature and outcomes of these interactions vary significantly.

The Interplay Between CBD and CB1 Receptors

CB1 receptors have a significant presence in the brain and central nervous system. While THC binds directly to these receptors, causing the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis use, CBD's relationship with CB1 receptors is markedly different. CBD doesn't strongly bind to CB1 receptors but acts as a non-competitive negative allosteric modulator. This means it changes the receptor's shape, reducing the efficacy and potency of THC and other cannabinoids that bind to CB1 receptors. This nuanced interaction explains why CBD might limit overstimulation from some of THC's intoxicating effects.

CBD's Relationship with CB2 Receptors

Unlike CB1 receptors, CB2 receptors are primarily located in the immune system and peripheral tissues. CBD, much like with CB1, has a low binding affinity for CB2 receptors. However, it still influences their activity indirectly by modulating the signalling pathways associated with these receptors. CBD interacts with other molecular targets in the vicinity of these receptors. Through this interaction, CBD can induce a cascade of biochemical reactions that ultimately affect the functioning of CB2 receptors.


CBD's Influence on the Nervous System

CBD is known to interact extensively with the nervous system. Its influence spans several aspects of the system, making it a subject of great interest among researchers. This interaction is evident in how CBD potentially modulates the release of various neurotransmitters, affecting an individual's overall nervous system response.

CBD's Interaction with Neurotransmitters

CBD also affects the brain's chemical landscape by influencing the levels and activity of various neurotransmitters. For instance, it appears to increase the availability of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Moreover, CBD might affect how the brain's chemical receptors respond to serotonin, a neurotransmitter pivotal to mood regulation.

The Role of CBD in Counteracting THC's Psychoactive Effects

One area of interest is the role of CBD in counteracting the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component in cannabis. While CBD does not directly counteract THC, it modulates the activity of the CB1 receptor, which can limit overstimulation from THC. In this section, we will explore the endocannabinoid system, receptor interactions, and the entourage effect in cannabis strains.

The Endocannabinoid System and Receptor Interactions

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signalling system that plays a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis within the body. It consists of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes that regulate various physiological processes, including mood, appetite, pain sensation, and immune function. The two primary endocannabinoid receptors are CB1, predominantly found in the central nervous system, and CB2, mainly located in the peripheral nervous system and immune cells.

Both THC and CBD interact with these receptors, albeit in different ways. THC binds directly to CB1 receptors, producing the characteristic "high" associated with cannabis use. In contrast, CBD has little binding affinity for either CB1 or CB2 receptors but can act as a negative allosteric modulator of the CB1 receptor. This means that CBD can reduce the efficacy and potency of THC, potentially mitigating some of its psychoactive effects.

The Entourage Effect in Cannabis Strains

The entourage effect is a theory suggesting that the various compounds found in cannabis plants, such as cannabinoids and terpenes, work synergistically to produce a more significant effect than any single compound alone. This means that the overall impact of a cannabis strain is greater than the sum of its individual components.

For example, CBD has been shown to modulate the psychoactive effects of THC, potentially reducing anxiety and other adverse side effects associated with high-THC strains. Additionally, terpenes, which are responsible for the distinct aroma and flavour profiles of different cannabis strains, may also contribute to the entourage effect by enhancing the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids.

One noteworthy example is beta-caryophyllene, a terpene that exhibits unique properties by binding to CB2 receptors, technically classifying it as a cannabinoid itself. This interaction showcases how terpenes can directly influence the functioning of the endocannabinoid system.

Another terpene of interest is myrcene, which has been found to interact with CB1 receptors. It is often associated with the "mango rumor," suggesting that consuming mangoes, which are rich in myrcene, before using cannabis can intensify the psychoactive effects. Myrcene is also the most prevalent terpene found in hemp varieties, further emphasising its significance.

Considering the entourage effect, the terpene profile becomes a vital consideration when selecting a cannabis strain or CBD product. The presence of specific terpenes can enhance the overall experience and therapeutic benefits. Thus, understanding the composition of terpenes in conjunction with cannabinoids allows individuals to make more informed decisions about the cannabis products they choose.

By ensuring the presence of terpenes, one can harness the potential of the entourage effect, enhancing the desired effects and optimizing the therapeutic potential of CBD products. It underscores the importance of a comprehensive approach that goes beyond solely focusing on cannabinoids, ultimately leading to a more personalized and tailored cannabis experience.

Debunking Common Myths About CBD

In this section, we will clarify several common misconceptions about CBD, including its relationship with marijuana, its psychoactive effects, and its perceived therapeutic efficacy. Through this exploration, we aim to provide a more nuanced understanding of CBD and its potential uses.

Differentiating Between CBD and Marijuana

Although CBD (cannabidiol) and marijuana both derive from cannabis plants, they are distinct entities with different characteristics and effects on the human body.

Understanding the Distinction: CBD is Not Marijuana

Confusion often arises when CBD and marijuana (or medical marijuana)are referred to interchangeably. CBD is a specific compound extracted from cannabis plants, whereas marijuana is a variety of cannabis known for its high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. THC is the psychoactive substance responsible for the mind-altering effects, or the "high," associated with marijuana use. CBD, by contrast, is often derived from hemp, a cannabis variety with lower THC content (typically less than 0.2%), and does not produce the same intoxicating effects as THC.

Addressing Misunderstandings About CBD's Psychoactive Nature

It's important to note that while hemp-derived CBD is a psychoactive compound—meaning it can affect the mind—it does not have intoxicating effects like THC. Clinical studies suggest that CBD may have calming effects, possibly reducing anxiety and promoting sleep, but it does not induce a euphoric high as seen with marijuana consumption. Thus, CBD-infused products are not synonymous with the mind-altering experiences typical of recreational marijuana or medical marijuana.

Addressing Other Common Misconceptions about CBD

Misunderstandings about hemp-derived CBD extend beyond its relationship with marijuana and its psychoactive properties. Let's address some of the most common misconceptions.

Dispelling the "CBD is a Miracle Cure" Myth

CBD has gained a reputation as a "miracle cure" for various health issues, from pain management to stress relief, primarily due to anecdotal evidence of potential health benefits. However, it's essential to view these claims with a critical eye. While initial studies and anecdotal accounts suggest various potential health benefits, comprehensive scientific evidence supporting these claims still requires further study.

It's crucial to understand that CBD is not a panacea for all health issues, and more rigorous research is necessary to ascertain its therapeutic potential and appropriate dosage guidelines fully. Even though the World Health Organization has recognised that CBD exhibits no effects indicative of abuse or dependence potential, this does not equate to it being a universal solution for all health concerns.


CBD Safety and Side Effects

Despite the growing popularity of hemp-derived CBD products, questions remain about their safety and potential side effects.

Safety of CBD Use

The general consensus among researchers is that CBD is relatively safe for most people when used appropriately. However, like any substance, it can have side effects, and these can vary based on factors such as individual body chemistry, the quantity taken, and the duration of use.

Possible Side Effects of CBD

Common side effects CBD users report include fatigue, dry mouth, dizziness, and changes in appetite or weight. However, these effects are typically mild and temporary. It's also worth noting that CBD can interact with certain medications, potentially altering their effectiveness. As such, it's always advisable to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any CBD regimen.

Choosing the Right CBD Product for Your Needs

When it comes to incorporating CBD into your daily routine, selecting the right product is crucial. This section will provide you with valuable information on understanding CBD-to-THC ratios, the chemical structure and effects of THC on the brain, and tips for selecting high-quality CBD products. By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose the best CBD product for your needs.

Appreciating the Absence of THC in CBD Products

It's crucial to understand that in the UK, all legally available CBD supplements should be entirely free from THC and all other controlled cannabinoids.

When choosing a CBD product in the UK, the absence of THC and controlled cannabinoids is not just a preference but a regulatory requirement. These stipulations are in place to ensure the product does not have any potential intoxicating effects associated with THC. All CBD products available for purchase as food supplements in the UK must adhere to these regulations to ensure consumer safety and CBD legal compliance.

However, what you find on UK shelves doesn't always reflect the latest legislation. Consequently, it's important to take the time to view labels and third-party lab results to determine that any product you purchase is legal and fully compliant.

Tips for Selecting High-Quality CBD Products

To ensure you're choosing a high-quality CBD product, consider the following tips:

1. Third-Party Lab Results: Reputable CBD brands will provide a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) from an independent lab, revealing levels of cannabinoids, terpenes, and the absence of contaminants like heavy metals and microbial or fungal impurities.

2. Type of CBD: Understand the difference between CBD isolate, broad-spectrum CBD, and full-spectrum CBD to determine which type best suits your needs.

3. Amount of CBD: Check the product label for the total amount of CBD in milligrams (mg) and the serving size to ensure proper dosing.

4. Other Ingredients: Be aware of any added ingredients, such as flavourings, chemicals, or allergens, that may not be suitable for your needs.

5. Product Labelling: Choose CBD products with clear and accurate labelling, including information on the type of CBD, amount of CBD, and third-party verification.

By considering these factors, you can confidently select a high-quality CBD product that aligns with your needs and preferences.

Will CBD Get You High: The Bottom-Line

To answer the question, 'Does CBD get you high?' knowing the differences between CBD and THC is crucial. These two compounds may have a similar chemical makeup, but they have very different effects on our bodies. CBD doesn't get you 'high', which is why it's often chosen by those looking for natural wellness products.

In the UK, THC is controlled by law, but CBD is allowed if it doesn't contain THC or any other controlled substances. So it's vital to understand these rules when it comes to these substances.

When choosing CBD products, focusing on quality and whether the product follows UK regulations is essential. With a good understanding of CBD and THC, people can decide which products are right for them.