Cannabidiol (CBD) does not cause people to experience the “high” associated with cannabis. However, CBD may make people feel other symptoms, including drowsiness and irritability.

The cannabis plant contains over 500 chemical compounds. Cannabinoids are one group of compounds present in cannabis.

CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids. CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the body, causing several effects.

This article outlines how CBD might make a person feel. It also discusses some of the possible side effects of CBD, how it works, and the different ways a person can use it.

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CBD is not psychoactive. This means that it does not cause intoxication and does not cause a person to experience a high.

However, they may experience several possible side effects with CBD. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that taking CBD can cause:

CBD can also cause harm such as:

  • causing injuries to a person’s liver
  • interacting with other drugs someone is taking, potentially causing harmful side effects
  • slowing down brain activity if an individual takes it with alcohol or other drugs

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

THC is another cannabinoid and the major psychoactive compound in cannabis.

When a person consumes THC, they can experience intoxication, which can cause them to feel the high that many people associate with cannabis.

This can cause a person to feel:

  • altered senses, such as seeing brighter colors
  • altered sense of time
  • mood changes
  • impaired body movement
  • difficulty thinking and problem-solving
  • impaired memory

If a person takes high doses of THC, they can experience more severe side effects such as:

Learn more about the differences between CBD and THC.

Cannabinoid receptors are a part of the endocannabinoid system. This is an integral part of the central nervous system (CNS).

The endocannabinoid system is a complex network of organs throughout the body that express cannabinoid receptors.

The two main cannabinoid receptors are:

  • CB1 receptors: These receptors are most commonly present in the CNS, which consists of the brain and the spinal cord.
  • CB2 receptors: These receptors are most commonly present in the peripheral nervous system and in immune cells.

The endocannabinoid system plays a role in several bodily functions, including:

  • pain
  • memory
  • movement
  • appetite
  • metabolism
  • lacrimation and salivation
  • immunity
  • heart and lung function

When a person takes CBD, it interacts with the cannabinoid receptors. It also interacts with other receptors, such as the serotonin and opioid receptors.

By interacting in these ways, CBD can have a number of effects on the body.

According to a 2018 study, people take CBD for several reasons, including:

The FDA has only approved one CBD product for use in the United States. Epidiolex is approved for treating seizures in people with severe types of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

There are several forms in which a person can take CBD.

According to one 2020 review of over 362 studies into the use of CBD, the most common form of CBD administration was oral capsules.

Other possible ways to administer CBD include:

  • sublingual oil drops, which a person places under their tongue
  • vaporized CBD, which an individual inhales
  • topical creams, which a person uses for skin disorders
  • edibles in the form of gummies, which an individual takes orally

As the FDA does not regulate most CBD products, mislabelling and contamination are fairly common. This also means there is a lack of quality control for these products.

The Arthritis Foundation states that this can cause a number of issues, including:

  • incorrect strength of CBD compared to what the label states
  • presence of undeclared THC
  • contamination with pesticides, metals, and solvents

A person should consider several factors when choosing a CBD product:

  • U.S. products: Products manufactured in the U.S. that companies have made using domestic ingredients.
  • Good manufacturing practices: Manufacturers that follow good practices that the FDA has established for pharmaceuticals or dietary supplements. Some U.S. states will also require manufacturers to follow certain good practice guidelines.
  • Certificate of analysis: Companies that have tested each batch often provide certificates of analysis from independent labs that use validated, standardized testing methods.
  • Avoid certain claims: Refrain from companies that state their products have disease benefits.
  • Be aware of salespeople: Retailers are not necessarily health professionals. A doctor is always the best source for guidance regarding CBD products.

CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant. People consume CBD for several reasons, such as to help treat epilepsy, chronic pain, and migraine.

People can take CBD orally in the form of gummies or capsules. They may also inhale vaporized CBD or take sublingual oil drops, which they place under their tongue.

CBD is not psychoactive and does not cause a person to experience a high. However, there are some possible side effects of CBD, including drowsiness, diarrhea, and irritability.

CBD resources

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and in-depth resources on CBD.

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