Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) both come from the Cannabis sativa plant, so it’s natural to wonder if these cannabinoids have similar properties. While they may share certain slight similarities, CBD is more different from THC than it is similar, and these differences are most apparent in the effects that CBD has in the human body. In this guide, learn the differences between CBD and THC, and find out if smoking, vaping, or using CBD in any other way will make you feel intoxicated or high.
Why does THC get you high?
The human body contains a complex network of neurological mechanisms called the endocannabinoid system. This regulatory system is affected both by endogenous, body-generated cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) and exogenous, plant-derived cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids). Among the endocannabinoids, anandamide is the most well known, and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9THC) is the most commonly dominant phytocannabinoid in Cannabis sativa plants.
THC primarily exerts its effects by acting as an agonist (stimulator) at the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) neuroreceptors in the body. These neuroreceptors are critically involved in the regulation of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, so when a high dose of THC overloads your CB1 and CB2 receptors, a strong feeling of intoxication occurs. The CB1 receptor is more critically involved in this intoxicating biochemical process than the CB2 receptor.
Chemical differences between CBD and THC
The chemical structure of THC makes it ideally suited to bond with your brain’s CB1 receptors. While a CBD molecule contains the same number of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms as a THC molecule, these atoms bond in distinctly different patterns that prevent cannabidiol from having affinity with the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Notably, THC has a cyclic ring at its center while the center of the CBD molecule is filled with a hydroxyl group. While subtle, this structural difference significantly affects the way that CBD interacts with your endocannabinoid system. Not only does CBD not bond with your brain’s CB1 receptors, but it even goes so far as to change the shape of these receptors to prevent them from effectively bonding with THC either.
Instead of making you high by interacting with your brain’s CB1 receptors, CBD appears to primarily interact with your 5-HT1A and vanilloid receptors, most notably the TRPV1 vanilloid receptor. CBD also interacts with a variety of other biochemical systems within the body, but scientists know less about these additional interactions.
The 5-HT1A receptor is the body’s most abundant serotonin neuroreceptor, so it is critically involved in serotonin-related functions like metabolism and mood regulation. Your body’s 5-HT1A receptors also regulate the sensation of neuropathic pain, which occurs when your nerves are damaged.
Neuropathic pain is one of the two major types of pain, and the other type of pain, inflammatory pain, is regulated in major part by the TRPV1 receptor. This neuroreceptor is also critically involved in most other inflammation-related biochemical processes.
As a result, CBD doesn’t get you high, but it does appear to directly target the two major neurochemical mechanisms that control pain, mood, and inflammation throughout your body. It’s no wonder, therefore, that the scientific community remains in an uproar regarding the potential benefits of CBD and so many people have tried this cannabinoid as an alternative to THC.
What are the effects of CBD?
If CBD doesn’t get you high, then what does it do? Anecdotal reports regarding the effects of CBD vary from person to person, and it’s not our place to make any claims related to the potential medical benefits of this cannabinoid. We can, however, give a brief overview of the most commonly reported effects of CBD:
People who smoke CBD, vape it, or use this cannabinoid in any other way most commonly report that CBD provides a feeling of profound yet gentle relaxation. CBD won’t make you float away on a blissful cloud or lose touch with reality, but it might take the edge off of a long day or help you focus on the task at hand with a clear and unworried mind. Compared to the manic, grandiose, or loopy effects that even a small amount of THC can cause, CBD is decidedly mild and non-intoxicating.
Sometimes the relaxation that CBD causes can become a little bit more than just slightly calming. CBD users commonly note a sense of significant sleepiness after using this cannabinoid, and since smoking or vaping CBD has much higher bioavailability than other ingestion methods, inhaling CBD might make you sleepier than using this cannabinoid any other way.
While this effect is harder to quantify, most people who use CBD report that this cannabinoid provides a general, long-lasting sense of peace, calm, and well-being. Compared to THC, which can easily become habit-forming, the wellness-boosting effects of CBD aren’t a dragon that you feel the need to chase. Instead, many CBD users report that this cannabinoid provides a comfortable sensation like coming home after a long, hard day.
Does CBD have any side effects?
Another way that CBD is different from THC is its remarkable lack of side effects. THC can cause mental confusion, paranoia, and even auditory of visual hallucinations during the peak of its effects. Long-term THC use can also lead to severe psychological distress and dependence.
CBD, on the other hand, does not cause any immediate negative psychological effects, and it also does not appear to be habit-forming or have any other long-term adverse effects. Instead, the only common negative effects of CBD are tiredness and occasionally dry mouth.
While many cannabis users seek out and enjoy the intoxicating effects of THC, others consider intoxication to be a side effect of this otherwise appetite-stimulating and antioxidant cannabinoid. Since CBD doesn’t cause any intoxicating effects, many former or current THC users see this cannabinoid as either a permanent or occasional replacement of THC and its potentially unwanted high.
Can you get high on full-spectrum CBD?
Is it possible to get high on full-spectrum CBD products since they contain up to 0.3% THC? While it’s true that full-spectrum CBD contains small amounts of THC, this THC concentration is so tiny that experiencing any intoxicating effects is extremely unlikely.
Consider a gram of hemp flower that contains 0.25% THC and 20% CBD. In that single gram, there are 200mg of CBD and 2.5mg of THC.
Even if you were to consume the entire gram of hemp at once, 2.5mg of THC isn’t enough to significantly trigger your brain’s CB1 receptors. In fact, the allosteric modulator effects of CBD would most likely prevent that minuscule amount of THC from binding with your CB1 receptors at all.
At the same time, however, the presence of THC in CBD products may increase the potency of the entourage effect. This hypothesized form of cannabinoid synergy appears to strengthen the effects of CBD when it is paired with small concentrations of other cannabinoids.
Enjoy non-intoxicating hemp with Secret Nature
CBD won’t get you high, and Secret Nature CBD flower is guaranteed to contain less than 0.3% THC. We provide independent, third-party lab tests to prove that we’re serious, and we’ve made it our most cherished goal to produce the best non-intoxicating hemp flower on the face of the planet. Visit the Secret Nature blog for more answers to common cannabinoid questions, and contact us for more information.