Cbd oil for pain does it get you high

CBD Oil: 9 Science-Backed Benefits

Dr. Bindiya Gandhi is an integrative medicine physician with expertise in functional and holistic medicine based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Commissions we earn from partner links on this page do not affect our opinions or evaluations. Our editorial content is based on thorough research and guidance from the Forbes Health Advisory Board.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound found in the cannabis sativa plant. When applied topically or consumed through smoke inhalation or edible consumption, CBD interacts with neuroreceptors in your endocannabinoid system, which sends signals between your cells to help regulate your movement, mood, homeostasis and immune system.

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CBD is often extracted from the cannabis sativa plant in oil form and mixed with an inert carrier oil like hemp seed oil for consumption. In fact, of the 60% of U.S. adults who report having used CBD before, 55% of them use CBD oils and tinctures specifically, according to a recent Forbes Health survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by OnePoll.

CBD research is growing, too. Here are nine ways studies suggest CBD oil could benefit your health.

1. Offset Anxiety and Depression

CBD’s ability to calm is perhaps its most popular effect and the reason its use is so widespread. A 2017 study in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry tested the anxiety levels of 57 men in a simulated public speaking test. Some received a placebo while others received either 150 milligrams, 300 milligrams or 600 milligrams of CBD before their speeches. Those who received 300 milligrams of CBD experienced significantly reduced anxiety during the test compared to those who received the placebo. Interestingly, participants who received either 150 or 600 milligrams of CBD experienced more anxiety during the test than the 300 milligrams group.

Meanwhile, at least one study in mice revealed CBD had effects similar to the antidepressant imipramine. Human trials are needed, though, to confirm whether CBD can induce this same antidepressant reaction in our bodies.

2. Treat Select Epilepsy Syndromes

In some instances, CBD can be used to treat epileptic seizures.

In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of CBD under the brand name Epidiolex to treat seizures resulting from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome—two rare forms of epilepsy—in patients at least 2 years old.

Three well-vetted studies provide the basis of support for the FDA’s decision. In these trials, 516 patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome received either Epidiolex or a placebo. Epidiolex, when taken along with other prescribed medications, decreased the frequency of participants’ seizures compared to the placebo.

3. Reduce PTSD Symptoms

In a small 2018 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11 people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) received CBD along with routine psychiatric care for eight weeks in an outpatient psychiatric clinic. Ten of the 11 experienced a decrease in their PTSD symptoms. CBD was generally well tolerated, the researchers write.

Margaret Rajnic, a doctor of nursing practice experienced in medical cannabis and CBD, emphasizes the importance of using therapy in tandem with any type of cannabis or CBD for PTSD. “There is an amount of therapy that is needed for PTSD,” she says. “But CBD will give you that little bit of decreased anxiety.”

Four other human trials from 2012 to 2016 suggest CBD reduces PTSD symptoms, although some include THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the main mind-altering element in cannabis. When THC and CBD work together, they create what’s called an “entourage effect,” complementing each other’s benefits and potency. For example, taking the same dose of THC and CBD together tempers the “high” from THC, while just a little THC paired with more CBD enhances the effects of the CBD.

4. Treat Opioid Addiction

Some studies—both preclinical animal and human clinical trials—suggest CBD could be used to help treat people who are dependent on opioids.

In one such study, researchers administered CBD to people with heroin use disorder. Over the course of a week, CBD significantly reduced heroin users’ cue-induced cravings, withdrawal anxiety, resting heart rate and salivary cortisol levels. No serious adverse effects were found.

Other studies find CBD helpful in reducing various psychiatric and medical symptoms like anxiety, insomnia and pain in patients with substance use disorders, indicating that CBD may be an effective treatment for opioid addiction. However, further studies are necessary.

5. Alleviate ALS Symptoms

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease that causes nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to deteriorate, resulting in loss of muscle control that worsens over time. It’s not yet understood exactly why ALS occurs, although it can be hereditary in some cases. There’s no known cure, and there are only two FDA-approved medications to help treat ALS symptoms.

Research suggests people with ALS can benefit from the entourage effect created by the combination of THC and CBD, similar to people with PTSD. In a 2019 study, patients received a combination of THC and CBD in varying doses depending on their needs and preferences. Those with mild, moderate or severe spasticity (muscle tightness and stiffness) due to ALS reported high levels of satisfaction with the treatment, and those with moderate to severe spasticity reported higher satisfaction rates than those with mild spasticity.

6. Relieve Unmanageable Pain

In 2005, Canada approved the use of Sativex, an oromucosal (absorbed in the lining of the mouth) spray with equal proportions of THC and CBD, for the treatment of multiple sclerosis-related central neuropathic pain. In 2007, Canada approved the medicine’s use again for cancer pain that proved unresponsive to other medications.

Meanwhile, continued studies in the U.S. indicate CBD is effective in treating chronic, non-cancer pain. In one 2020 study, researchers administered CBD topically to a group of patients with symptomatic peripheral neuropathy (a result of brain nerve and spinal cord nerve damage) while another group with the same condition received a placebo. Results showed a significant reduction in intense, sharp pains and cold, itchy sensations in those who used the topical CBD compared to those who used the placebo. No participants reported adverse side effects.

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When introduced topically, CBD oil doesn’t affect the systemic issue as it might if it were introduced directly into the bloodstream. Instead, topical CBD is more localized and treats pain in a certain area. Since it’s more direct, it may have a more pronounced effect.

7. Ease Diabetic Complications

For starters, tests on human cells found that CBD helps reduce the effects of high glucose levels on other cells in the body, which typically precedes the development of diabetes and various complications. Researchers concluded that with further studies, CBD could have significant benefits when used in patients with diabetes, diabetic complications and plaque buildup in artery walls.

In another small study, 13 patients with type 2 diabetes who weren’t on insulin treatment were given both CBD and a placebo (in lieu of insulin). Researchers found CBD decreased their levels of resistin (which causes resistance to insulin, the protein that regulates sugar levels) and increased their levels of glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (a hormone that ensures a sufficient release of insulin from digested food) compared to their baselines before they started the test. These results suggest CBD could be a natural treatment for diabetes by helping the body regulate insulin-related hormone levels.

8. Protect Against Neurological Disease

Preclinical and clinical studies show that CBD has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers deduce these characteristics can provide significant neuroprotection, or protection against numerous pathological disorders.

Several preclinical studies suggest CBD can produce beneficial effects against Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Huntington’s disease and cerebral ischemia were also tested, although significant positive results were not recorded. Further clinical studies are needed to confirm CBD’s benefits when used as a treatment for these disorders.

9. Inhibit Arthritis Symptoms

Arthritis involves the deterioration of the tissues in and around your joints. There are several types of arthritis, and symptoms include pain, stiffness and loss of motion. Arthritis treatment usually targets pain relief and improved joint function.

A 2006 study found that Sativex—a CBD-based botanical drug approved in the United Kingdom in 2010—promoted statistically significant improvements in quality of sleep, pain during movement and pain at rest in patients with rheumatoid arthritis when compared to a placebo. It was the first controlled trial of Sativex as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, involving 58 patients. CBD was found to have a pain-relieving effect, as well as an ability to suppress disease activity.

In 2018, in a study of more localized treatment, researchers administered a synthetic CBD gel in either 250-milligram or 500-milligram doses daily or a placebo to patients with knee pain due to osteoarthritis. Patients also stopped taking any other anti-inflammatory medications or painkillers, with the exception of acetaminophen, before and during the study period.

The results were interesting, although not entirely conclusive. On one hand, those treated with CBD did not experience much change in pain when compared with placebo patients. On the other hand, there were statistically significant differences between the group receiving the 250-milligram dose and the placebo group when measuring the average weekly improvement of their worst pain levels and their WOMAC (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index) physical function rating. Additionally, men seemed to benefit from CBD more significantly than women in this test.

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Does CBD Oil Get You High?

It’s challenging to go a day without hearing about the health benefits of CBD oil.

People are using CBD (cannabidiol) for everything from anxiety to depression, pain, seizures, inflammation, insomnia, and skin conditions.

Many prominent studies have highlighted CBD as a safe and effective alternative for conventional treatment options when it comes to the above health problems.

But can CBD oil get you high?

CBD naturally occurs in cannabis plants, so it’s natural to ask this question.

However, the type of cannabis used for making CBD oil plays an important role in whether or not the product will get you high.

In this article, we’ll clear up any confusion about the effects of CBD. We’ll also cover the differences between CBD and THC to help you understand how these two compounds influence your brain.

Can CBD Oil Get You High?

The short answer is no.

This is one of the misconceptions about CBD that must be turned around. CBD oil doesn’t get you high as long as it contains up to 0.3% THC.

CBD doesn’t have intoxicating properties. It can make you feel calm and relaxed, but these effects aren’t even close to what you get from consuming marijuana.

However, not all CBD oils are created equal.

Some CBD products are produced from marijuana plants, and as such, they may contain a significant amount of THC (5% and up). These products can produce a psychoactive high. However, they also contain high levels of CBD due to selective breeding of the strains used for extraction, so the high will be more balanced.

Speaking of CBD and THC, let’s have a look at how these compounds interact with our bodies and with each other.

Differences Between CBD vs. THC

Understanding the difference between CBD and THC should clear up any confusion you may have about the possibility of getting high from CBD oil.

Let’s discuss THC first.

What is THC?

THC is the only compound in the cannabis plant that can make you feel high. Once it enters your circulatory system, it binds to the CB1 receptors in the brain and spinal cord, producing sensations of euphoria, deep relaxation, and changes in sensory perception.

THC can act on our mood, memory, pain perception, and other important functions such as fertility or appetite.

The nature of THC is biphasic, which means that low to moderate doses can ease anxiety and relieve stress, whereas higher doses can elevate anxious feelings and trigger paranoid thinking patterns.

What is CBD?

CBD won’t get you high in a way that THC does, as it doesn’t have a direct bond with any of the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system.

Instead, CBD sends signals to the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce more of its endocannabinoids and help the body maintain a state of balance between all biological processes. This balance is known as homeostasis.

CBD can reduce anxiety, ease pain, reduce inflammation, improve joint function, help with attention problems, promote neuroprotection, and more.

CBD also blocks the sites of receptors to which THC wants to bind, reducing its psychoactivity. At the same time, CBD has been shown to enhance the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of THC. On the other hand, CBD extracts need, at least some amount of THC, to unlock the full potential of CBD. The synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes in the cannabis plant is referred to as “the entourage effect.”

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What Does CBD Feel Like?

Now that you know what CBD can’t do — it can’t get you high — you’re probably wondering what to expect when you take CBD oil for the first time.

Like we said, CBD doesn’t have a direct affinity with any cannabinoid receptors, although it acts on more than 65 identified molecular pathways.

CBD signals the ECS to release more endocannabinoids while slowing down their breakdown. This, in turn, allows more of your native cannabinoids to circulate in the body.

Most users describe the effects of CBD as a surge of unwinding sensation combined with relief running through the body and mind when inhaled or taken sublingually.

Many first-time users report first results within 15–30 minutes after taking CBD oil, or within 2–5 minutes after inhalation. Oral products such as edibles and capsules need more time to show their effects, usually up to 120 minutes.

To sum up, CBD doesn’t get you high, but instead:

  • Makes you feel relaxed
  • Improves your focus
  • Promotes a healthy response to stress
  • Helps you stay calm

Most of the time, you’ll hear people saying that CBD is non-psychoactive when they refer to its effects.

Or does it simply lack intoxicating properties?

Is CBD Really Non-Psychoactive?

Since CBD doesn’t get you high, you might think that it’s not psychoactive.

Well, let’s take a look at the definition of the word “psychoactive.”

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, psychoactive means affecting the mind and behavior.

While CBD won’t directly affect your behavior, it positively does affect the mind. For example, by helping you cope with stress and reducing anxiety, CBD can help you get in the right mood, stay productive, and less likely to have temper tantrums.

CBD is psychoactive.

But so can be your friends; or your electronic equipment; or anything that makes you happy or angry for that matter.

There’s a fine line between psychoactive and intoxicating.

What Type of CBD Oil Can Get You High? How Are CBD Oils Made?

Most CBD oils are produced from hemp plants, which are specifically bred for their high CBD content and only a negligible amount of THC.

What do we mean by negligible amounts of THC?

Hemp contains 0.3% of THC or less per dry mass, whereas marijuana may contain anywhere between 5–30% THC.

If you have a product with less than 0.3%, it won’t get you high.

That’s why hemp-derived CBD oil is federally legal. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp has become an agricultural commodity and can be grown for a variety of uses, including health supplements such as CBD extracts.

Despite different sources, all CBD oils are produced using the top-standard extraction method — CO2 extraction. This technology involves pressurized CO2 that changes its state from liquid to gas during the extraction process. It strips the beneficial compounds off the original plant without additional heat or solvents. CO2 extraction yields pure and consistently potent extracts.

Other Cannabinoids that Could Make You Feel High

Full-spectrum CBD oil contains other compounds on top of cannabidiol, including minor cannabinoids and terpenes.

The majority of cannabinoids are non-intoxicating, but there are two trace molecules that can produce similar effects to THC.

THCV

THCV has a similar molecular structure to THC. Since it can only be found in trace amounts, it would have to be isolated in larger amounts to get the user high. THCV alone can have an intoxicating effect, but not in a way that could cause or worsen anxiety. In fact, THCV elevates the mood and enhances focus while mitigating the intoxication from THC.

Other health benefits of THCV include its ability to reduce paranoia, stimulate bone growth, and slow down the development of neurodegenerative disorders.

CBN

CBN starts to form when you expose THC to heat and oxygen, which is why high levels of CBN can be found in poorly stored or aged cannabis. While not intoxicating per say, CBN induces potent sedating effects, which get strengthened in the presence of THC.

Marijuana CBD Oil Can Get You High

Like we said, CBD can be extracted from hemp and marijuana plants.

Although marijuana-derived CBD oil is produced through the same processes as hemp-derived CBD, it contains more THC — between 5–30% — depending on the THC content of the strain used for extraction.

Marijuana CBD oil is only legal in states that have approved marijuana for medical or recreational use. Make sure that you’re familiar with the cannabis laws in your state to avoid crossing the law.

Hemp CBD Oil Can’t Get You High

Since there are only trace amounts of THC in hemp-derived CBD oils, they can’t get you high.

However, you can still experience a wide range of health benefits associated with using cannabinoids. People use CBD oil to feel focused, relaxed, invigorated, pain-free, and better rested on top of many other goals.

Unlike marijuana CBD oil, hemp-derived products are legal in all 50 states. You can find them online as well as in local head shops, vape stores, pharmacies, and health retail outlets.

CBD Oil and Getting High: The Bottom Line

CBD oil can do many great things for your health. What it cannot do, however, is get you high — as long as it contains 0.3% THC or less.

Hemp is grown to boost the CBD content in the flowers while lowering the concentration of THC so it doesn’t induce intoxication.

Don’t confuse the marijuana high with relaxation or sedation caused by higher doses of CBD oil. Hemp products won’t directly influence your behavior.

Getting high off of CBD oil is only possible if it comes from mature marijuana plants. But then again, not every state in the U.S. allows medical or recreational marijuana use, so make sure that you know the local law and always read the product’s label or lab reports to confirm both the CBD and THC content in your CBD oil.

If it reads less than 0.3% THC, then you have a 100% legal product that won’t get you high.

Livvy Ashton

Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.

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CBD products are everywhere. But do they work?

By now, you’ve probably run into a product containing cannabidiol, also known as CBD. It’s in everything from drinks and pet products to lotions and chewable gummies. Even major drugstore chains have announced they will start carrying CBD products in certain states.

But many people still don’t really know what CBD is. Is it marijuana? Is it legal? Does it actually work? Is it safe?

The answers to those questions aren’t necessarily straight­forward. The only thing that is clear at this point: The marketing has gone way ahead of the science and the law when it comes to CBD products.

That said, CBD is thought to be a safe and effective option for certain conditions. Below, we sort through the confusion by answering some of the most common questions about CBD.

Is CBD marijuana?

Yes and no. Cannabidiol is one of the two best-known active compounds derived from the marijuana plant. The other is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the substance that that produces the “high” from marijuana.

CBD does not get you high, but the idea that it’s not psychoactive is something of a misconception in his opinion. It does change your consciousness. You may feel mellow, experience less pain, and be more comfortable. In addition, some CBD products do contain small amounts of THC.

While CBD can come from marijuana, it can also be derived from hemp. Hemp is a related plant with 0.3% or less of THC. This plant is often used to make fabrics and ropes. As of 2018, Congress made hemp legal in all 50 states, and consequently CBD derived from hemp is also legal. The rules around marijuana-derived CBD, however, are far less clear.

Is marijuana-derived CBD legal?

Again, yes and no, depending on where you live. In some states marijuana is legal for both recreational use and medical use. In other states, it’s legal only for medical use. And in some areas, it’s not legal at all.

When it comes to CBD products, the FDA is still trying to get its arms around the issue. The agency is just starting the process of hashing out some rules regarding CBD sales. Officials recently formed a working group to create guidelines that could allow companies to legally market CBD products. Currently, CBD products are considered supplements, which aren’t FDA-regulated, and it is illegal for companies to make health or therapeutic claims about the products in their marketing. In announcing its effort to set CBD marketing rules, the FDA also signaled that it is cracking down on CBD companies that are using “egregious and unfounded claims” to market their products to “vulnerable populations.”

Currently, there is only one CBD product that has FDA approval: a prescription medication called Epidiolex, used to treat some rare severe seizure disorders in children. The bottom line is that in order to understand whether CBD is legal where you live, you’ll need to consult your state health department website or professionals in your community.

Does CBD work?

Yes, there is evidence that CBD works for some conditions, but certainly not all the conditions it is being promoted for these days. There’s no evidence, for example, that CBD cures cancer. There is moderate evidence that CBD can improve sleep disorders, fibromyalgia pain, muscle spasticity related to multiple sclerosis, and anxiety.

People report that oral CBD helps relieve anxiety and pain and also leads to better sleep. However, the same may not be true for a host of other CBD products on the market today, in particular those that are rubbed on the skin. It’s hard to know whether these have any clinical benefit, because they haven’t been tested sufficiently.

Testing also shows that many products don’t contain what’s claimed on the label. For example, they may have less CBD than advertised. So, buyer beware.

Where should you purchase CBD products?

If you are interested in trying a CBD product, it’s best to seek one through a dispensary, which is an establishment legally licensed to sell marijuana, if they are available in your state. Dispensary products must be labeled so you can see exactly how much CBD is in the product and whether it also contains THC. A small amount of THC in a CBD product isn’t typically problematic. But larger amounts could cause a “high” and may present a risk if you are going to drive.

Also, keep in mind that CBD products aren’t standardized and will vary. It helps to keep a journal recording what type of CBD product you took, how much, and your response to it. This will help you track what works and what doesn’t for your condition.

Is CBD safe?

The safest way to take CBD is orally, as a tablet, chewable, or tincture (a concentrated liquid typically administered with a dropper). Steer clear of any illegally sold synthetic CBD products, sometimes called “spice” or “bath salts.” These products have induced psychotic reactions in some people and pose a major health risk.

For adults, CBD appears to be a very safe product. CBD does produce side effects for some people, including nausea, fatigue, and irritability. It may also interact with certain medications, so always check with your doctor before use.

But for children under age 21 it’s a different story. It’s also not clear if any amount of CBD is appropriate for children.

Evidence regarding CBD is still building. Now that some states have legalized recreational and medical use of marijuana products, including CBD, scientists are finding it easier to conduct research. More will be known in the next 5 to 10 years, including whether there are yet undiscovered problems associated with long-term use.

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