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CBD sounds like a good idea. It helps with so many different conditions, so why not have some fun with it? It is a part of cannabis, and cannabis gets you high, so why not expect the same from CBD?
Unfortunately, reality is getting in the way. CBD is not psychoactive, and if you take gallons of the stuff, it will not get you high but it will probably make you feel a bit ill.
It all comes down to cannabinoid receptors. Hold on, it gets a bit complicated, but you will soon see why you cannot use CBD.
Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is the full name for THC, and it is the chemical in cannabis that is responsible for so many giggles, munch-fests, and bouts of psychosis. THC is a strong agonist of the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R). An agonist binds to a receptor and activates it.
CB1R are expressed on post-synaptic neurons in many parts of the brain. It sits there, regulating how a receptor called GABA works. When it is bound by an agonist, it is activated and causes a cascade of reactions that eventually inhibits the synaptic action of dopamine, a very important neurotransmitter. There are several other places CB1R is expressed in the brain, but they all work similarly.
When this signaling is interrupted, it changes how the brain communicates with itself. The self-regulation that keeps a mind working optimally is disrupted and the mind experiences change. This is psychoactivity or the feeling of getting high.
CBD does not have this effect because it works in almost the complete opposite way.
CBD is an antagonist to CB1R (and its cousin, CB2R, which is found mostly in the immune system and does not appear to play much of a role in getting out of your head). Antagonism is the disruption or altering of how an agonist binds to the receptor (not winding someone up). Technically, CBD is a negative allosteric modulator. Allosteric means “other”, modulator means change, and you know what negative means.
When you take CBD, it acts in a way that alters how other agonists like the body’s own anandamide (a CB1R agonist) interact with CB1R. When you take cannabis, CBD changes how THC binds to CB1R, making it more tolerable and longer lasting. This is why THC is horrible on its own but many people find it enjoyable when a part of a big cannabinoid mixture containing CBD. You might have heard of entourage effects. This is a prime example.
CBD does bind to CB1R, but not very strong or with a great affinity. It seems to have many different targets in the body, including serotonin and vanillin receptors. The serotonin receptors are the reason that CBD can relieve anxiety, by the way. Because it does not bind to CB1R, CBD does not change the post-synaptic GABAergic neurons and change the frequency of dopamine-mediated signaling in parts of the brain that govern perception.
But, you sputter, you have seen CBD oil that is for casual use? What does this mean? How can this be so?
Full spectrum oils can be used both medicinally and casually. THC has good analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects and is used in some parts of the world for treating multiple sclerosis pain. However, when it is used, is usually used alongside cannabidiol because it makes it more tolerable.
A good example is Sativex, a 1:1 THC to CBD mixture licensed in Sweden and Canada for use with MS. However, most patients still prefer to use cannabis.
CBD is illegal, at a federal level at least, because it is a part of the cannabis plant. For the last 70 years, Western governments have fought a losing battle against innocent people who want to take cannabis and other drugs. Circular arguments like “it causes crime” have never made sense, nor has the prohibition of cannabis, which has never been demonstrated to be a dangerous drug. As a matter of fact, cannabis is a remarkably safe drug with a very positive safety profile.
That does not stop lawmakers making harmful and nonsensical laws, however, and CBD is a prime example. Cannabidiol is a provably safe drug. There is no known toxic dose, it has never been implicated in the death of any individual, and very rarely causes side effects.
Ironically, CBD is classed as a Schedule 1 drug, one that has “no accepted therapeutic value” and a considerable risk of abuse. The same government that sticks to that definition has also approved CBD for people over the age of 2 years with Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes, rare and intractable forms of epilepsy. The same government also accepts, in its approval of CBD for epilepsy, that it has little or no capacity for abuse. It would be amusing were it not so serious.
It is only because CBD is found in the cannabis plant that it was ever illegal in the first place. This has led to years of scientific inaction and frustration, and the benefits that are now clear from CBD therapy have been denied to generations of the most vulnerable and ill people. Unfortunately for everyone, this situation looks unlikely to change in the current political climate.
The good news is that if you live in one of the 50 states where CBD is legal, you can buy it nearly anywhere. The Feds are unlikely to come crashing through your front door to catch you supping CBD to treat your rheumatism, they have bigger fish to fry. Hopefully.
If you want, you can get an oil that is packed with THC and CBD. You will feel the benefit of CBD on your maladies, whatever they are; and you will feel super-high. The high will be nicer because of all that CBD. A medicine that also gets you baked.
Alternatively, you can look for a CBD oil that has little or no THC. It will not get you baked but it will make you feel better. It depends on what you want and how you respond.
Although you might have read that CBD is a safe drug, and you are probably right, there is a lot that is not known about CBD. Its reactions with other drugs in the body are not known, and the long-term safety profile has not been established. THC has obvious risks.
Always talk to your doctor before taking any drug, CBD included. They need to know what you are taking to keep you safe.
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