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What Does CBD Feel Like? Benefits You'll Love And Side Effects

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CBD is a cannabis-derived compound many people are reaching for to help support overall health. Understandably, you may feel some apprehension about trying a trending health item with a turbulent legal history—but you want to know what the buzz is all about.

After all, CBD must have some impressive effects if it is on the trajectory to become a 1.8 billion dollar industry in the United States by 2022 [1].

Why are people turning towards CBD to support their well-being? What does it feel like? And are there dangerous side-effects to know of?

We'll break down everything you need to know about what CBD feels like, so you can choose the right CBD product and potency to suit your desired results.

What Does It Feel Like To Take CBD Oil?

The effects of cannabidiol (CBD) can feel different for everyone depending on the following factors:

  • Extract Type
  • Experience with CBD
  • Genetics
  • Lifestyle
  • How much you take
  • What you're taking it for

Overall, users report subtle and gentle effects of CBD. The compound is widely known to promote a sense of calmness and relaxation, which many people find helpful for managing stress and getting a good night's sleep.

Of course, not all CBD products are made the same. Be sure to read up on the CBD oil's product description and label as some formulations include other ingredients that steer the benefits of CBD in a certain direction. For example, you can find CBD for sleep with melatonin or chamomile to strengthen CBD's effects on the sleep-wake cycle.

Does CBD Get You High?

CBD  is one of the main cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant—both hemp and marijuana varieties. The compound CBD itself does not produce intoxicating effects. However, its counterpart, THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, concentrated in marijuana strains, does have psychoactive effects.

Legal CBD oil products sold throughout the United States are harvested from industrial hemp crops that contain no more than 0.3% THC. This trace amount of THC is similar to the alcohol content you might find from kombucha. Yes, it contains THC, but it's not enough to get most people high.

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The Endocannabinoid System: Why THC Gets You High And CBD Doesn't

CBD doesn't produce a "high" due to its particular interaction with our endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS was named after the plant that led to its discovery, cannabis. This system aims to maintain homeostasis (balance) of our internal environment despite the fluctuations we experience in our external environment.

In this system, the receptors and transmitters act like "read" receipts to some of our vital systems, including those that control digestion, sleep-wake cycle, and stress, helping to keep all these systems performing optimally in balance.

THC Interactions

Two of the main receptors in the ECS are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. While CBD vs THC have a very similar molecular structure, they differ in one key feature that makes THC psychoactive and CBD not.

THC happens to be the same shape as an internally produced cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) called anandamide. Anadamine's name stems from the Sanskrit word, ananda meaning "bliss or joy."

The CB1 receptors are particularly rich in the central nervous system (CNS), and it's most sensitive to anandamide and THC molecules [2]. CB2 receptors are found in immune tissues and play a significant role in the inflammatory response [3].

One of the tasks assigned to the CB1 receptor is to regulate the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. When the body ingests THC, the receptor believes it to be the "bliss" molecule. It opens the gates to release hormones that produce euphoric effects that may also alter our memory processing and motor control.

CBD Interactions

CBD doesn't have the best molecular shape for unlocking the CB1 or CB2 receptors' actions, so it's not directly pushing the same buttons that release the flood of hormones that can alter your state of mind. Rather, CBD may help with an endocannabinoid deficiency, boosting internally produced cannabinoids to help maintain the body's homeostasis system [4].

CBD is shown to slow the breakdown of internally produced cannabinoids, such as anandamide, so that it's able to remain in your system for much longer. CBD may also improve anandamide's ability to bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. 

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Hemp Extract Types Can Affect What CBD Feels Like

CBD and THC are only two of over a hundred cannabinoids detected in cannabis. These compounds are produced in the plant's resin concentrated on the buds, stems, and leaves, which are then harvested and refined to produce different extracts.

The effect you feel from CBD gummies, oil, edibles including oral CBD spray can depend on which extract type you're taking.

Full Spectrum

Full spectrum CBD extracts contain close to the hemp plant's original cannabinoid and terpene profile. This means that you're not only getting CBD, but you also get traces of THC, CBG, CBC, and CBN, along with beneficial terpenes. This extract type is the strongest and will deliver the most balanced and natural effects of CBD compared to the next two extract types we'll discuss.

In herbal medicine, there's a concept called synergy. Synergy takes all the plant's natural compounds into account to produce greater effects that one compound can't do independently. The minor cannabinoids may not produce strong enough effects on their own in trace amounts, but they help to improve the effects of CBD. This is called the entourage effect.

You can think of the minor cannabinoids and trace terpenes as backup vocals to the show's main star, CBD. While CBD is the main attraction, the backup vocals help CBD produce a richer sound, improving its overall performance.

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CBD Isolate extracts undergo additional processing to completely remove all traces of other cannabinoids, terpenes, waxes, and fatty acids. What you're left with is a crystal-like powder that's up to 99.9% pure CBD.

CBD oil made from isolate won't be as potent as its full spectrum counterpart. It's also been reported to more likely produce unwanted side-effects, as it doesn't have the help of the other cannabinoids to round-out its effects. Lastly, CBD isolate runs the risk of being synthetic or overly processed, with many lab-created variants circling the market due to the green rush of the last 5 years. 

Broad Spectrum

Not many companies offer a broad spectrum THC free CBD option, but this is the best extract type for those looking for diversity in cannabinoids and terpenes without THC.

Broad spectrum CBD oil contains a range of hemp phytonutrients alongside CBD but has THC completely removed. This is achieved either through a careful distillation process to isolate the THC compound, or it's done by taking isolate cannabinoids and combining them together.

With THC Free Broad Spectrum CBD, you still get the benefits of the entourage effect. However, it may not be the same synergy level as full spectrum oils. Researchers suggest that THC and CBD have a synergistic relationship that improves their benefits when taken together.

If you absolutely need a THC-free option, broad spectrum is the way to go.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Taking Too Much CBD?

While CBD is a safe and well-tolerated compound, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

Luckily for most people, the adverse effects of taking too much CBD wears off as soon as it's out of their system (3–5 hours). However, it's still important to know the signs of ingesting too much CBD, so you know your limit and avoid unnecessary discomfort.

Some people find it helpful to write down their doses and how they feel in a journal or the notes app on their phone and adjust their doses until the desired effects are reached.

The adverse effects of taking too much CBD include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lethargy
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Changes in appetite
  • Constipation

If you're thinking about trying CBD for the first time, it's recommended that you consult with your healthcare professional to reduce the chances of negative interactions with medication. As a general rule of thumb, you always want to start on the lower end of dosing and work your way up so you don't over-do it.

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Why Does CBD Make You Feel Good?

CBD is becoming very popular in natural wellness because of its gentle effects and its long list of attributed benefits.

In this section, we'll jump into some of the mechanisms of how CBD exerts its effects.

1. CBD May Increase GABA Activity

GABA or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid is an internally produced amino acid that behaves as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It's best known as the brake-pedal to a stimulated central nervous system, slowing down the fight-or-flight response in the body we associate with stress.

CBD is shown to support GABA's ability to bind to GABA-A receptors, producing a sense of calm in an overactive brain [5].

2. CBD May Interacts With Vanilloid Receptors

TRPV1, or better known as the vanilloid receptor, belongs to a class of receptors called "trip receptors" that influences our pain perception and inflammation.

The TRP receptor family is responsive to mechanical, thermal, chemical (i.e., acid, lipids) stimuli from our environment. For example, the pain from hot peppers triggers a response from the vanilloid receptors [5]. CBD has been shown to bind to the vanilloid receptor, helping to mediate the perception of discomfort we experience from our external environment.

3. CBD May Activate Serotonin Receptors

At high doses, CBD has been shown to activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor [6]. Serotonin is a key hormone that affects our sense of well-being and happiness. Through this pathway, CBD can improve our response to stress by managing discomfort, feeling overwhelmed, and irritability.

4. CBD May Reduce Stress Hormone Levels

Potential threats from our external environment activate our stress response.

The hypothalamus flags the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. This hormone curbs the functions of other systems such as the immune and digestion to direct energy towards preparing the body to either fight or flee — otherwise known as the fight-or-flight response.

While the stress response is designed to protect us, it's only meant to be a temporary response. Extended stress can lead to many health problems. CBD has been shown to reduce cortisol levels in the bloodstream, helping to alleviate prolonged stress symptoms [7].

The Takeaway: What Does CBD Feel Like?

Cannabidiol is one of the main compounds produced in the cannabis plant that does not produce intoxicating effects in most people. It's best known for its calming and relaxing benefits. Its popularity is steadily increasing as more research is uncovered about this unassuming compound.

CBD has impressive effects on certain pathways that affect our mood, perception of discomfort, and regulating stress levels, making this compound beneficial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

People can experience CBD differently depending on the extract type, genetics, lifestyle, and various other factors. Luckily, CBD is well tolerated, and adverse effects only last for as long as it remains active in your system. To avoid any adverse reactions to CBD, check in with your healthcare professional, start with lower doses, and slowly build your way up.

If you're interested in learning more about CBD and the humble hemp plant's nutritional benefits, be sure to read up on our blog for more information.


What Effects Does CBD Have?

The effects of cannabidiol (CBD) differ from person to person depending on the extract, lifestyle, past experience with CBD, genetics, and dosage. CBD is well-known for producing a sense of peace and relaxation, which many people find excellent for stress management and getting a good night's sleep. Of course, not all CBD products are made equal. Carefully study the CBD oil's product description and label because some formulations contain other compounds that alter the benefits of CBD in a specific way.

What Are The Side Effects Of Taking CBD?

While CBD is generally considered to be a safe and well-tolerated chemical, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. For the most part, the bad effects of taking too much CBD wear off after it's out of their system (3–5 hours). However, knowing the signs of consuming too much CBD is still important to order to recognize your limit and avoid unnecessary pain. Overdosing on CBD can cause drowsiness, lethargy, headaches, diarrhea, nausea, and appetite changes.

What Does Taking CBD Feel Like?

Cannabidiol is one of the key substances produced by the cannabis plant that does not make most people intoxicated. It is best recognized for its calming and relaxing qualities, and its attractiveness grows as more knowledge about this simple chemical is unearthed. While CBD has varying effects on different people depending on the type of extract, heredity, lifestyle, and a variety of other factors, it is generally well tolerated, and the negative effects last as long as it is present in your system. To avoid any negative responses to CBD, begin with a low dose and gradually increase.

Does CBD Get You High?

CBD is one of the most prevalent cannabinoids found in cannabis plants such as hemp and marijuana. CBD does not produce intoxication on its own. Legal CBD oil products available in the United States are sourced from industrial hemp harvests with less than 0.3% THC content. While it contains THC, it is insufficient to get most people high.


  2. Reggio, P. H. (2010). Endocannabinoid binding to the cannabinoid receptors: what is known and what remains unknown. Current medicinal chemistry, 17(14), 1468-1486.
  3. Turcotte, C., Blanchet, M. R., Laviolette, M., & Flamand, N. (2016). The CB 2 receptor and its role as a regulator of inflammation. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 73(23), 4449-4470.
  4. Lu, H. C., & Mackie, K. (2016). An introduction to the endogenous cannabinoid system. Biological psychiatry, 79(7), 516-525.
  5. Jara-Oseguera, A., Simon, S. A., & Rosenbaum, T. (2008). TRPV1: on the road to pain relief. Current molecular pharmacology, 1(3), 255-269.
  6. De Gregorio, D., McLaughlin, R. J., Posa, L., Ochoa-Sanchez, R., Enns, J., Lopez-Canul, M., ... & Gobbi, G. (2019). Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain. Pain, 160(1), 136.
  7. Zuardi, A. W., Guimarães, F. S., & Moreira, A. C. (1993). Effect of cannabidiol on plasma prolactin, growth hormone and cortisol in human volunteers. Brazilian journal of medical and biological research= Revista brasileira de pesquisas medicas e biologicas, 26(2), 213-217.


The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product.

Katrina Lubiano

BA in English Katrina has always had a passion for health sciences and literature. She works as a content writer, editor, and strategist in the health and wellness space, primarily focusing on cannabis education. She’s written well over 400,000 words on the subject—including demystifying laws a...

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