Is CBD Really Non-Psychoactive?


The fuss around cannabidiol (CBD) continues to gain momentum. This such a myth-laden topic that there’s an ongoing and heated debate about the psychoactive levels of CBD. CBD is commonly defined as a non-psychoactive compound that’s extracted from the hemp plant (cannabis sativa).

In simple terms, the non-psychoactive tag means that, unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD doesn’t excessively degrade or inhibit mental function — so users can’t get high by taking it.

While the CBD debate continues; sections of the public have their own reservations about the psychoactive properties of CBD. The question is: How clinically true are all these assertions?

Hopefully, a quick look at the effects of this compound will help us to know whether CBD is definitely  non-psychoactive.

Mechanism of Actions of CBD and THC

It’s undeniable that CBD and its close counterpart THC, both come from the same origin — cannabis sativa. They both work through their interactions with the endocannabinoid system (also known as ECS). These are neurotransmitter systems in our bodies that either regulate or affect the following activities:

  1. Hunger
  2. Sleep patterns
  3. Pain
  4. Inflammation
  5. Memory
  6. Control of our muscles
  7. Mood swings
  8. How we respond to stress
  9. Levels of energy

The explanation goes that, the plant-based cannabinoids (THC & CBD) interact with the endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, thus creating different effects in our bodies.

In particular, the actions of THC mimic those of anandamide (the chemical that binds to, and also activates the cannabinoid receptors in our brains).

Because THC perfectly fits into the CB1 orthosteric main binding site. It sparks a wave of signals that create “high feelings”.

This makes users feel changes to their mental functions because of the following reasons:

  1. Disorientation
  2. Emotional balance changes
  3. Thoughts and reflexes are affected

All these are mind-altering effects; that’s why THC is undoubtedly described as being psychoactive. Looking for the best CBD? Find more info on

How about CBD — is it also psychoactive?

Well, CBD works in a different way. First, CBD hooks up to a different portion of the CB1 receptor; the allosteric binding site.

In this way, it actually distorts the binding actions of THC on the CB1 receptor. This means that, CBD rather reduces the psychoactive effects that spring up from THC; while giving more room for their other effects to manifest themselves.

Now, here is the big deal. Apart from dampening THC’s psychoactivity, CBD goes a step further to interact with CB2 receptors. This interaction creates a sedative effect (calm and relaxation) in users.

But that’s not all! The icing on the cake is that CBD is known to activate the adenosine receptors which regulate dopamine in our brains.

Since these CBD actions clearly relate to mental functions, we are right to question its non- psychoactive description.

The Bottom Line — Is CBD Really Non-Psychoactive?

Judging from their mode of reactions discussed above, it’s obvious that THC impairs mental activities more than CBD. On the other hand, CBD is not completely “non-psychoactive” as we usually describe it.

Yes, it’s true that CBD won’t get you as high compared to THC. But the mechanisms of CBD get connected to the brain at some points in time.

Therefore, to some extent, CBD is not really non-psychoactive. Maybe it’s high time we redefined the meaning of non-psychoactive.

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