What does it feel like to take CBD?
It’s Less About How It Makes You Feel, and More About What You DON’T Feel.
One of the most common things people ask before they try CBD is, “what does CBD feel like?” It’s a fair question. Since it doesn’t have any psychoactive effects, when you take it, you don’t get high. But what DO you feel? Do you feel anything at all?
Honestly, answering that can be tricky. When you look at some of the reasons why people take CBD, even those ailments can be experienced differently.
Anxiety alone manifests in about a hundred different ways. So can inflammation, sleep disorders, and a host of other neurological issues. The human experience is subjective—so are the different methods of taking CBD and how you experience them. But you’ll definitely notice something.
Does it Matter How You Take It?
Yes and no. CBD interacts with your Endocannabinoid System (ECS) no matter how you take it, but the amount of time it takes to feel any benefits will vary.
The basic explanation of HOW CBD affects you goes like this: CBD molecules interact with receptors in your ECS, providing possible medicinal benefits. Regardless of how you ingest it, that’s still how it’s going to function. But depending on what you’re trying to treat, certain methods work better than others.
Of course, personal preference matters. I mean, if you just really like CBD gummies then, by all means, eat some gummies. But generally, it makes the most sense to use a method that will quickly bring relief to whatever ailment you’re trying to treat.
Since it quickly goes into your bloodstream, vaping CBD gets the medicinal benefits into your system the fastest. So if you feel an anxiety attack coming on, that’s your preferred method. Edibles, like gummies, can take several hours to kick in. But the effects also last significantly longer than vaping. So if you have a long day ahead of you, edibles could be the better option.
Ultimately, purchase what makes the most sense to you. That’s the beauty of having so many options. I have friends who take CBD edibles in the morning, they keep a vape pen on them for emergencies, and then they use a CBD bath bomb at night. Use them all or just use one. It’s up to you!
What do The Pain-Relief Effects Feel Like?
This is one of the trickier effects to describe because it’s so subjective. Each of us has a different tolerance for pain, so what might be excruciating for one person might only be a mild nuisance for another. But regardless of whether you’re attempting to treat chronic pain, inflammation, or even just menstrual cramps, CBD can help. When it comes to pain relief, it’s more about what you DON’T feel.
Dominique Astorino decided to take CBD a year ago. Since then, she’s made it part of her regular routine. She says, “...you'll possibly notice that you have less pain, but you won't have any kind of body high to replace the void your pain or woe left behind. It's not that CBD makes you feel ‘good’ necessarily, but rather it makes you feel NOT bad. It eliminates whatever is plaguing you and allows your brain and body to return to its happy, healthy homeostasis.”
So you won’t get some grand sense of euphoria, but chronic pain sufferers might argue that simply NOT being in pain is pretty euphoric. That’s why it’s hard to land on a concrete description; it’s so personal.
What About Anxiety Relief?
As stated earlier, anxiety can manifest in a lot of different ways. For some people, it’s the stereotypical hyperventilating, for others, it’s a numbness that weighs them down. Many people resort to prescription sedatives that can leave users in a haze. When it comes to using CBD for anxiety, however, the general consensus seems to be that it frees people to feel more like themselves.
Kelsey Clark, a design and lifestyle blogger for MyDomaine, said that she was hesitant to try CBD at first, “My mind immediately turned to weed and the unnerving experiences I'd had with heightened anxiety in college. For me, a person who's already predisposed to overthinking, marijuana, no matter what the form, would typically put my mind into overdrive and result in a common yet dreaded side effect: Paranoia.”
That seems to be the case for many people who suffer from anxiety. At some point at a social gathering, they’re offered a THC product from a well-meaning friend who says, “It’ll help you relax.” But, like Kelsey, if you’re already prone to anxiety, it can sometimes have the opposite effect and cause even MORE anxious thoughts. Luckily, CBD doesn’t contain the same psychoactive components that THC does—no paranoia or anxiety. Win!
Originally, Kelsey took CBD to help her overcome jet-lag, but her experience was so subtle that she’s considering making it part of her regular routine. “While normally I'd be slightly tripped up by little things like an overly crowded subway car or a full inbox at work the CBD oil seems to have taken the edge off of my anxiety a bit. Rather than overthinking a sternly worded email or analyzing a social interaction, I've found it easier to recognize the irrationality of these thoughts and actually let them go.”
She described the feeling as surprisingly subtle and without the omg, it’s kicking in feeling that prescription meds can have. Considering that some prescription meds can leave you feeling like a zombie, CBD sounds pretty amazing
Using CBD For Focus and Sleep
Much the same way that CBD helps people reduce pain and anxiety, treating focus and sleep issues is the exact same—subtle. And while CBD won’t have the same intensity that prescription medications used for attention disorders have, it will bring many of the other systems in your body back into balance. And a balanced body functions better.
First, what does it feel like when you’re taking CBD to help you sleep? Many sleep medications can leave people feeling groggy in the morning or, even scarier, can escalate symptoms like sleepwalking. As someone who’s woken up in the middle of the night outside my apartment with car keys in my hand, that can be terrifying.
Leigh Weingus tried CBD to treat her insomnia and said, “My racing thoughts seemed to come to a screeching halt within an hour of taking it, and when I got into bed I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Even better, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.”
Because CBD affects serotonin and GABA receptors in the brain, it’s one of the most natural ways to treat sleep disorders, anxiety, and general stress. In other words, all things that affect your cortisol levels, which is one of the main chemicals that inhibit focus.
Once your cortisol levels are out of whack, it’s particularly tricky to balance them again. Let me paint a picture for you... You receive a negative performance review from your boss and, understandably, it stresses you out. Your body reacts by increasing your cortisol levels because that’s how it responds to stress and anxiety. Increased cortisol can lead to brain fog, fatigue, weight gain, and irritability—all things that lead to MORE stress. See? It’s a nasty cycle.
Many people try to break this cycle with anxiety medications, sleep aids, caffeine, etc. Unfortunately, that often means treating the symptoms, not the source. What’s the best way for your body to process and lower cortisol levels? Sleep. Getting enough quality sleep will naturally improve your focus and concentration.
Let me be clear. If your doctor has prescribed a certain medication for you, then you should discuss CBD with them. I am not a doctor and I do NOT advocate ditching prescriptions without consulting a healthcare professional.
Personally, I’ve been prescribed medications for anxiety and for insomnia that I no longer need because of my CBD use. I worked with my doctor, however, to slowly lower my medication while increasing my CBD. It took time and a lot of patience, and I’m glad I did it—CBD has improved my quality of life. But I’m also glad I did it with my doctor's approval because CBD can interfere with some medications.
It’s All About Balance
The human body is a series of highly complex systems that function best when those systems are in balance. An imbalance in one system—say your adrenal system which releases cortisol—can throw off your entire body. CBD helps bring your body back into balance. Know what that feels like? Just plain good!
You won’t feel high, groggy, or jittery; you’ll feel NOT bad. Instead of hitting your snooze button several times in the morning, you might wake up after the first one because you actually managed to get enough sleep. And maybe when your boss gives you a rush assignment a few hours before the deadline, instead of being overwhelmed with anxiety, you’ll handle it with grace and confidence.
If you’re looking for a mind-altering, psychedelic experience… CBD isn’t it. But if you want to enjoy your day, pain-free and without anxiety, then I highly recommend CBD. Personally, I think to have a body that functions properly and efficiently feels pretty damn good.
While I can’t wait to hear about how CBD has improved your life, baby steps are definitely the way to go. Let us know in the comments how CBD makes you feel and how it benefited you, a friend, or a family member. You might get featured in a future article!
Hannah Walker is a mostly-retired University English instructor who spends her time freelance copywriting. When not doing that, she’s writing articles related to CBD, skincare, and/or media. With an MA in English-Creative Writing she’s almost certainly working on a creative piece at this very moment. Her blog includes personal pieces as well as academic articles exploring social issues in film, television, and music. Hannah is on Instagram and Pinterest, always.