Is CBD a Depressant or a Stimulant?

Published March 16, 2022
Is CBD a Depressant or a Stimulant? - Secret Nature

By now, CBD is a well-known substance with many accepted uses in the public eye. Even so, the average CBD user knows very little about how this cannabinoid affects their bodies—which neuroreceptors does it target, and how does it alter your body’s chemical balances?

Anyone who remembers high-school chemistry class knows some substances stimulate your nervous system while others sedate it. CBD does neither of those things, and we’ll explain why this cannabinoid behaves as neither a depressant or a stimulant over the course of this guide.

Is CBD stimulating or sedating?

Depending on the circumstances, CBD can have effects that feel either mildly stimulating or sedating. However, neither CBD nor any of the other substances in hemp flower directly stimulate the central nervous system. As a result, it would be incorrect to designate CBD as either a stimulant or a depressant regardless of the wide range of effects CBD users report.

Is CBD a stimulant?

No, CBD is not a stimulant. In biochemical terms, a stimulant is a substance that directly increases activity in the central nervous system. Examples of stimulants include caffeine, Adderall, and methamphetamine. Certain CBD products can be perceived to have a mildly stimulating effect, but this effect is perceptual, not biochemical.

Does CBD help concentration?

Many CBD users report that this cannabinoid can have a concentration-boosting effect under certain circumstances. Any substance that helps you relax can also help you focus, and CBD’s reported ability to get you “in the zone” may be more useful for boosting concentration than substances that directly stimulate your central nervous system.

Does CBD work for energy and focus?

Many people report excellent results after using CBD products to improve their energy and focus. CBD users have reported increases in energy after using all manner of different CBD-rich hemp products, but it appears products boosted with terpenes from sativa-leaning strains unlock any inherent focus-boosting effects of CBD to their fullest-possible extent.

Does CBD increase your energy?

Depending on the product you use and how you use it, a CBD product might provide you with a perceived increase in energy. Any energy boost you experience after using CBD, however, won’t be due to any inherent properties of the cannabinoid. While there’s a lot it appears CBD can do to fine-tune and improve our bodily systems, this cannabinoid does not increase activity in the central nervous system to any degree.

Does CBD make you hyper?

It’s rare for people to report feeling hyper after using CBD. The right CBD product might provide you with a mild buzz of energy, but this cannabinoid should never make you feel downright hyper. If you’re the type of person who gets the jitters after just a single cup of coffee, you shouldn’t fret too much about CBD causing a similar effect.

Does CBD make you alert?

In some cases, taking CBD might make you feel more alert. Unlike caffeine and other substances that directly stimulate your nervous system, however, CBD is not a stimulant, and it won’t force you into a state of mental alertness.

Why might CBD feel stimulating?

The primary reason that taking a CBD product might make you feel stimulated is that it’s boosted with terpenes. There’s still a lot we don’t know about these delicious, aromatic compounds found in cannabis and many other plants, but some terpene profiles appear to have stimulating effects while others might be more relaxing.

It’s important to clarify that even though terpenes may feel stimulating, no terpene has been determined to directly stimulate central nervous system activity. So, just like CBD, terpenes are not actually stimulants, but sativa-leaning terpene profiles are nonetheless widely known to induce energizing effects.

Is CBD a depressant?

No, CBD is not a depressant even though it’s commonly described as having relaxing effects. A depressant is a substance that directly reduces central nervous system activity, and CBD does not have this effect. The relaxing effects of CBD may be due to non-depressant interaction with certain important neuroreceptors, and terpenes can also play a major role.

Is CBD a mood stabilizer?

From a pharmacological perspective, CBD is not known to be a mood stabilizer. Certain drugs like lithium are used to stabilize the mood of individuals with bipolar disorder.

These drugs “gatekeep” the flow of endorphins to make sure that an individual doesn’t ever feel too good or too bad. CBD is often reported to cause improvements in mood stability, but this effect does not appear to be related to a specific biochemical mechanism.

Why might CBD feel sedating?

CBD inherently has effects that feel more sedating than energizing. Other cannabinoids might have more energizing effects, but CBD is widely known as causing relaxation that can even slide into unwanted sleepiness.

These inherently relaxing properties of CBD can be boosted with certain terpene profiles. Terpenes lifted from indica-dominant cannabis strains like OG Kush are generally the most relaxing, and live resin extraction preserves the benefits of cannabis terpenes to the fullest extent possible.

Related questions: How does CBD affect the mind?

Let’s close things up with answers to seven of the most commonly asked questions regarding CBD and mood:

1. Why does CBD make me depressed?

If you already have a depressive disorder, the relaxing effects of CBD could theoretically exacerbate “low” feelings. CBD is not known to cause depression as a side effect, however, and CBD users commonly report that this cannabinoid has improved their mental health. If you’re concerned CBD is making you depressed, stop using this cannabinoid, and consult with a doctor.

2. Does CBD raise serotonin?

We don’t know enough about CBD to be sure if it actually increases serotonin concentrations in the brain. It certainly appears, however, that CBD interacts extensively with the human nervous system’s 5-HT neuroreceptors, which control the flow of serotonin throughout the body. It wouldn’t be a surprise if future research conclusively proved that CBD directly improves serotonin levels in the brain.

3. Does CBD increase dopamine?

CBD does not appear to significantly interact with the neuroreceptors responsible for dopamine production in the brain. The endorphin associated with feelings of deep pleasure, dopamine is, rather, produced upon interaction with the various forms of THC, which appear to mainly make you feel high by increasing dopamine levels in your central nervous system.

4. How does CBD interact with Adderall?

The health experts at Harvard Medical School caution that using CBD in conjunction with the prescription stimulant Adderall could cause reduced appetite. Since reduction in appetite is already a common side effect of stimulants like Adderall, it’s unclear how this warning is relevant. Though HMS does not cite the research behind this claim, individuals using Adderall should be cautious when ingesting CBD regardless.

5. Is CBD as effective as antidepressants?

At present, no CBD-based drugs have been approved as antidepressants, and research into CBD as an antidepressant is inconclusive. If you are currently taking antidepressant medication, it is not advisable to stop using your medication in preference of CBD.

Despite the fact that mainline antidepressant drugs are known to have issues with efficacy and side effects, sudden cessation of medication use is a key danger for individuals suffering from depression. Consult with your doctor if you’re interested in adding CBD to your anti-depression regimen.

6. Does CBD affect personality?

CBD is not generally reported to cause profound changes in personality. This cannabinoid’s mild relaxing effect may make irritable individuals calmer or lead to users evoking a somewhat more “chilled-out” vibe.

Starting to take CBD is nothing like embarking on a THC routine, however. In the case of habitual THC use, significant mood changes are to be expected—sometimes in desirable ways. CBD is non-intoxicating, however, so its effects on your personality are likely to be similarly diminished.

7. Can CBD cause mood swings?

CBD is not generally known to cause mood swings. The impact of this cannabinoid on your overall mental state is usually reported to be mild, and if CBD affects your mood at all, it will likely make you more easygoing and relaxed.

This may make CBD an ideal alternative to THC, which isn’t for the faint of heart. THC’s profoundly psychoactive effects can be destabilizing for some people even though others prefer the power of riding the “THC dragon.”

Is CBD a sedative or stimulant? The bottom line

CBD is neither a sedative nor a stimulant. This cannabinoid has a lightly relaxing effect, but it neither stimulates nor reduces central nervous system activity.

You can modulate the effects of CBD by combining this cannabinoid with indica or sativa terpenes. Don’t expect CBD to make you feel too strongly in any way at all—this cannabinoid is known above all else for its mildness, and CBD works its best when you don’t even know it’s there.

To experience the indirectly sedative or stimulant qualities of CBD to the fullest extent possible, it’s best to inhale this cannabinoid. CBD flower, pre-rolls, vape cartridges, and disposable vapes make it easy to inhale CBD any way you like.

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