You’ve probably often seen saying CBD is non-psychoactive, right? But, is it really? Psychoactive is defined as “altering the mind”. This does not mean that that alteration has to be intoxicating or incapacitating. In this guide we’ll answer the question – is CBD non-psychoactive?
How CBD Works
To take a look at the question is CBD non-psychoactive; we must first explain how it works in the body. Unlike THC, CBD’s effects aren’t necessarily “felt”. Think of it as a “silent cannabinoid”, so-to-speak.
How CBD Interacts with Receptors
CBD is able to interact directly with the CB1 receptor; however, it does not directly bind to that receptor. THC does bind directly to this receptor. CBD, on the other hand, binds to what’s called an allosteric binding site. CBD can operate through at least 60 molecular pathways in the body. Many of these pathways are receptor-independent.
The cannabinoid’s ability to bind to multiple receptors in the body is what helps it regulate and modulate specific functions. CBD influences the serotonin 5HT1a receptor, which plays a role in anxiety. It also works with the PPAR-gamma nuclear receptor that is responsible for regulating gene expression. CBD also mingles with the GPR55 receptor, which is often called the “orphan” receptor.
The GPR55 receptor is often called the third cannabinoid receptor. It wasn’t discovered until 1999. It has similarities to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. This receptor can be found in the brain and peripheral nervous system. When this receptor is blocked, typically by the use of CBD, certain types of cancer may be inhibited. It’s thought that blocking the GPR55 receptor from being active that brain, breast, colorectal and pancreatic cancer tumors might be unable to metastasize or continue to be viable in the body. This receptor is also responsible for some functions due to spatial navigation and long-term memory. When its activity is blocked, conditions involving these symptoms (such as dementia and epilepsy) may be more controllable.
CBD is an allosteric modulator – meaning that it indirectly influences a receptor. It doesn’t activate the receptor to send a signal; it does play a role in how that receptor responds to certain stimulation. The way this modulation occurs impacts how cells signal.
CBD doesn’t bind directly to CB1 receptors. Instead, it parks itself on a docking site. By binding to the docking site, action or reaction is stimulated.
Cells can have multiple docking sites, also called loci. These binding sites are activated by endogenous cannabinoids. There are two types of sites – orthosteric and allosteric. Orthosteric sites allow a drug or cannabinoid to “turn on”. Allosteric sites increase or decrease the ability of receptors to send signals depending on how the modulating factor (in this case, CBD) changes the shape or structure of the receptor.
THC and CBD work very well together. THC influences orthosteric binding sites. CBD is an allosteric modulator. When CBD and THC are both present, CBD is able to help THC or inhibit it – depending on what type of allosteric change occurs. Positive allosteric modulation changes help increase how receptors send signals. Negative allosteric modulations inhibit (slow or reduce) receptor transmissions.
This helps explain why the presence of higher amounts of CBD reduce the effects of THC.
Psychoactive drugs often alter your state of consciousness. Alcohol and coffee are psychoactive substances. Cannabis is a psychoactive substance. Changes in perception, mood and behavior are often noticed in medications with psychoactive properties.
The substance does not have to contain intoxicating or incapacitating effects to be considered a psychoactive substance. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, psychoactive means to alter the mind. Is CBD non-psychoactive? No, and below, we’ll explain why.
Is CBD Non-Psychoactive?
Addressing the question, is CBD non-psychoactive, the answer is no. Why is this if it doesn’t cause any type of actual sensation or effect? CBD, also as we mentioned above, works silently in the body. You don’t notice that it’s doing anything because none of your functions, actions or capabilities are hindered.
Compare it to taking a vitamin to correct vitamin deficiencies or just for overall wellness. You don’t “feel” anything when the vitamin is working in your body, but it’s working.
CBD has multiple properties, meaning that it can support healthy responses to multiple functions in the body.
Properties of CBD include:
From this list, you can gather that CBD may support appropriate responses to stress and anxiety, as well as depression, pain and immune system response.
CBD does not possess psychotropic effects, but changes in the mind do happen. The next section will provide some examples of those changes.
Examples of Alterations of the Mind
To further explain how CBD alters the mind, but isn’t intoxicating, it’s ideal to provide some examples. Let’s start with anxiety. Anxiety leaves the brain signaling to the body that it’s in a state of panic.
During that state of panic, the body may not be able to calm itself. Due to the anxiolytic properties of CBD, it suggests that a calming effect might suppress or reduce that sense of panic. As the calming effects begin working, feelings of anxiety could diminish.
So, yes, an alteration to the mind does occur in this instance because you would be going from a state of panic to a state of calm – this change in mood occurs due to signals in the brain.
Onto depression. Anandamide is also known as the “bliss molecule” that is produced by the body. This classifies it as an endocannabinoid. When anandamide is deficient or low in production in the body, symptoms of depression, schizophrenia and other mental health disorders might increase. Increasing anandamide production or enhancing it with the use of CBD may promote a healthier response – meaning that supporting symptom improvement could be possible.
When taking CBD and an uplifted or improved mood is noticed, this is an alteration of the mind. Perceptions of situations and triggers could be different.
So, is CBD non-psychoactive? No, but it’s also not psychotropic. Its psychoactivity is positive in nature and does not inhibit your ability to think, function or maintain normal daily activities. There are positive and negative types of psychoactivity – some of which are intoxicating and incapacitating. While CBD might not be non-psychoactive, it alters the mind in a good way.