What Does CBD Feel Like? The Effects Explained

  • CBD
what does CBD feel like

We understand why you might be cautious at first. But the truth is, there’s nothing at all to be worried about–and quite a lot of benefits of CBD that are great for your health. Here’s a closer look at how CBD makes you feel.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical in the Cannabis Sativa plant (more commonly known as marijuana or hemp). It’s hardly the only invitee to the party–there are over 80 active chemicals in the marijuana plant. It’s the second most prevalent of those 80 chemicals. The active ingredient in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol, a.k.a. THC, which is what most people know the marijuana plant for.


In order to understand how CBD works, it’s helpful to see how it differs from its better-known cousin, THC.

Both compounds have a similar chemical makeup and are classed as the same type of compound: cannabinoids.

THC mimics a chemical naturally produced in the brain called anandamide. Because the two have a similar structure, THC acts like anandamide in the brain. This is why THC is the best-known of all 80 active compounds in cannabis–because THC binds to neurons and alters the brain’s typical communication channels, THC is psychoactive. Or, in plain English, it gets you high.

This can mean a variety of things. THC stimulates the part of your brain that responds to pleasure, unleashing a hit of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This gives you a euphoric, relaxed feeling. However, THC also interferes with neural communication, so it affects everything from concentration to coordination to movement and even memory.

CBD is chemically similar to THC, but it is not psychoactive and has a dramatically different effect on the brain and body. To understand why, you have to understand the endocannabinoid system.

The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is a complex cell-signaling system discovered by researchers in the 1990s. It has three core components:

  1. Endocannabinoids
  2. Enzymes
  3. Receptors

Endocannabinoids, short for endogenous cannabinoids, are chemically quite similar to cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The difference is that your body produces them naturally. We’ve already mentioned one of the two key endocannabinoids: anandamide (derived from the Sanskrit word ananda, or bliss).

The endocannabinoid system is comprised of two receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mostly found in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), while CB2 receptors are found in your peripheral nervous system, especially in immune cells. Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor, but the effect an endocannabinoid has depends on which type of receptor it buddies up with.

An endocannabinoid binding to a CB1 receptor in the spine, for example, might relieve pain in a spinal nerve. However, if the same endocannabinoid bonded to a CB2 receptor in an immune cell, it’s a signal that your body is experiencing inflammation.

CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

With that in mind, let’s revisit THC and the star of the show, CBD.

THC has a powerful effect on the body because it binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors, creating a wide variety of effects throughout the body ranging from increased appetite to an altered perception of time. In stronger cases (or stronger doses) it can even cause paranoia or acute psychosis.

However, CBD is a whole different ballgame. Remember, CBD isn’t psychoactive. That’s because CBD works differently than THC.

Cannabinoids are either agonists (“activating” receptors by mimicking endocannabinoids) or antagonists (blocking endocannabinoid receptors and limiting their activity). As it turns out, CBD has very little binding affinity with CB1 or CB2 receptors. However, it does modulate several non-cannabinoid receptors and ion channels, and it often prevents endocannabinoids from breaking down.

For example, CBD binds directly to TRPV1 receptors, which double as ion channels and mediate pain perception, body temperature, and inflammation. It also directly activates the 5-HT1A (hydroxytryptamine) serotonin receptor, part of the family of 5-HT receptors activated by serotonin to produce a cascade of chemical messages. The best known? Its anti-anxiety effect.

What Does CBD Feel Like?

So, what does CBD feel like?

Well, it doesn’t get you high. Taking CBD oil is nothing like taking marijuana.

Because of CBD’s chemical effect, especially for severe or chronic pain (say thank you to your TRPV1 receptors). It also has an anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effect (say thank you to your 5-HT1A receptors). This is in part because CBD increases serotonin levels and keeps endocannabinoids lingering in your system longer.

With that said, the benefits of CBD often depend on the product you buy–the quality of the product, to be more specific. It also depends on the product type–what form it’s in, how pure the CBD is, and whether the product is derived from hemp or marijuana. Marijuana contains CBD, but it’s grown primarily for its high THC content, so it’s more difficult to take out all the THC. Hemp, on the other hand, contains a much lower level of THC.

There’s also the choice between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products. Full-spectrum products contain a full-range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and no more than 0.3% THC. Broad-spectrum products start as full-spectrum products but undergo additional chemical processing to remove all trace elements of THC. Then there’s CBD isolate (nothing but CBD), which is typically sold as a powder.

The moral of the story? CBD can make you feel calm, relaxed, and pain-free–but you have to invest in the right products.

High-Quality Botanicals You Can Trust

At Etanicals, we know that quality is key. That’s why all our products are rigorously tested for quality and purity, and all have a certificate of authenticity attached to every product in our store.

What does CBD feel like? When you buy from us, it feels like a stress-free, pain-free way to live a better life. Check out our available CBD products today.


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