How Does CBD Make You Feel?

August 31, 2023
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How does CBD make you feel?

Cannabidiol (CBD) has exploded onto the cannabis scene in recent years, with CBD advocates emphasizing the non-intoxicating aspects of the cannabinoid in contrast with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is credited for the euphoric “high” typically associated with cannabis consumption. But if CBD isn’t intoxicating or doesn’t get you high, how does CBD make you feel?

In this post, we’ll explain exactly what CBD is, what people tend to use CBD for, and how CBD might make you feel. We’ll also give a brief overview of how to navigate the risks posed by an unregulated CBD market so that you’ll be equipped to find excellent, safe products for your own wellness goals.

CBD: A legal, non-intoxicating cannabinoid

The cannabis plant plays host to over 100 different cannabinoids, with CBD and THC being the most well-known.

Both CBD and THC work by interacting with your body’s unique endocannabinoid system, a complex internal network tasked with maintaining homeostasis by regulating physiological processes related to sleep, mood, appetite, and immune system responses.

The difference between the effects of CBD and those of THC is a result of differences between how each cannabinoid interacts with the endocannabinoid system.

While many cannabis breeders have focused on THC content since the days of total prohibition, a significant change to the United States’ approach to cannabis regulation under the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act shifted the legal market’s attention to cannabinoids derived from hemp, defined as a cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% delta-9 THC by dry weight.

CBD presents an alternative to THC-based cannabis products for individuals who don’t benefit from (or simply don’t like) the effects of THC but still recognize the wellness-enhancing potential of cannabis.

Despite not being considered intoxicating, CBD is still capable of producing noteworthy effects on a variety of factors that can impact your sense of well-being, such as your experience of chronic pain or your ability to handle anxiety-inducing social situations.

What do people use CBD for?

The current popularity of CBD resulted from a combination of the growing body of research supporting various uses for CBD and mass media hype, one 2021 study reports. Some of that media coverage has, unfortunately, “made it hard for most people to understand the true nature of CBD,” the study’s authors state.

The study, which relied on an online recruitment strategy and a self-report data gathering process involving almost 400 current and former CBD users, found “that CBD users take the drug to manage self-perceived anxiety, stress, sleep, and other symptoms, often in low doses, and these patterns vary by demographic characteristics.”

Those demographic differences tend to show up along the lines of biological sex and age. For example, male respondents were more likely to report CBD use for general well-being and for post-exercise recovery. Female respondents were more likely to use CBD for anxiety and insomnia (the study’s authors note that this data point might be “reflecting the higher prevalence of both symptoms amongst women”).

Interestingly, the authors reference an earlier study that “compared the subjective effects of 100 mg oral versus vaporised and smoked CBD and found that women reported experiencing more subjective effects of CBD than men.” The 2021 study’s authors suggest that this may explain why their female respondents were more likely to report using CBD for ongoing symptoms. It is worth noting that scientists have identified sex-based differences in how cannabis products affect people.

How does CBD make you feel?: Common effects

While there is plenty of published research explaining the wellness-related potential of CBD, the non-intoxicating nature of the cannabinoid makes it more difficult to pin down how your subjective experience of CBD might feel.

The references and results of a 2019 study examining the effects of acute THC and CBD consumption via vaporization may help clarify how you might expect CBD to feel.

In fact, the study’s findings cast a bit of doubt on the claim that CBD is entirely non-intoxicating when consumed in high doses (~400 mg). 

“Subjective intoxication with CBD manifested largely as a dissociated state, correlating with the depersonalisation and derealisation scores on the CADSS [Clinician Administered Dissociative States Scale], as well as the CADSS total score, but not the amnesia subscale,” the study’s authors state.

“Interestingly, independent observer ratings of intoxication in the high dose CBD condition did correlate with participant ratings of drowsiness immediately after drug administration, as well as participant ratings of changes in external perception and at trend level internal perception and CADSS total score. This suggests that observers’ ratings of intoxication may have been based on perceiving participants’ drowsiness and behaviours indicating that they were responding differently to their external environment and dissociating.”

The takeaway? CBD might be considered non-intoxicating in the same way diphenhydramine HCl, the active ingredient in the antihistamine Benadryl known for causing drowsiness, is non-intoxicating.

The study’s authors are also quick to note that their intoxication finding might be unique to the consumption method used in their trial, vaporization, as past studies that focused on oral CBD administration via tincture or oil did not get the same intoxication-related results.

Another study, published in 2022 and focused on measuring cognitive performance through a driving simulator, supports the earlier study’s authors’ hypothesis that the consumption method played a significant role in CBD’s ability to make users feel intoxicated. 

The 2022 study used CBD-infused MCT oil to administer oral doses of 15 mg, 300 mg, and 1500 mg and found a starkly different response from the participants.

“The results of this study suggest that acute, oral CBD treatment at doses up to 1500 mg does not induce feelings of intoxication and is unlikely to impair cognitive function or driving performance,” the study’s authors conclude.

In practice, the information produced by these two studies suggests that CBD users who prefer smoking or vaporizing their cannabis products might want to be more cautious about inhaling large doses of CBD than if they were to consume a similar dose via tincture or oil.

Furthermore, if you’ve tried CBD oils or tinctures and haven’t experienced the wellness-related outcomes you were expecting, it might be worth experimenting to determine whether inhalation might work better for you.

Lastly, it's worth noting that the subjective feelings of drowsiness or sedation after consuming a high dose of CBD can actually be a good thing for the anxiety and insomnia symptoms some consumers report using CBD to alleviate.

Find top-rated products for your goals 

Jointly is the cannabis discovery app that makes it easy to find and shop the best cannabis and CBD products for your goals. Your matches are calculated from the real product ratings and experiences from hundreds of thousands of people using the Jointly app.

If you're ready to discover new products and reach your goals, download the Jointly app today on the App Store or Google Play, or shop your matches on the Jointly website.   

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Whether you want to improve sleep, relieve daily stress, or just relax and refresh, Jointly can help you reach your goals with cannabis.  

With Jointly, you can shop your top-rated products, and save lists of your favorites to share and bring to your local dispensary to help guide your shopping experience.  

The Jointly app also helps you improve your cannabis experiences by uncovering what’s working and what’s not with reflections and personalized insights. In fact, the quality of your diet, how much you slept, who you’re with, and the time of day are just some of the factors that can impact your cannabis experience.  

So if you're ready to find your best products and enjoy your perfect cannabis experience, download the Jointly app today on the App Store or Google Play, or shop your matches on the Jointly website. Discovery awaits.

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