Can CBD Lower Your High if You Take Too Much Cannabis?

Francis Cassidy February 21, 2020 1 comment

Can CBD lower your high? Yes. And here’s why.

Many of us have experienced the effects of over-consuming THC. If the ensuing confusion and occasional paranoia make for an uncomfortable experience, CBD can come to the rescue.

With the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018, and the continued scheduling of cannabis as a schedule one substance, much confusion still exists around the compounds of this miracle plant. Many see CBD as the good cannabinoid and THC as the evil one. But the truth is they have an intricate relationship. In effect, cannabidiol is the yin of THC’s yang, and scientific evidence suggests that these compounds exhibit potent synergies.

Both have benefits, and when taken in isolation, they impart certain effects. But when taken together, the outcomes are somewhat different, and some might say more therapeutic.

The Science on how to Lower THC Intoxication

In a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology (2015), researchers investigated how CBD interacts with the CB1 receptors, previously only thought to interact with THC. Researchers found that CBD functions as a negative allosteric modulator in that it, “binds to a distinct allosteric site on CB1 receptor.”

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The Synergies Between THC and CBD

In layman’s terms, this means that CBD interacts with CB1 receptors, instead of binding with them like THC. It’s this interaction that changes the shape of the receptor site and thus reduces the affinity by which THC later binds. Researchers reported that, “CBD reduced the potency and efficacy of THC.”

But cannabis is a complex plant, and things are never that simple. While CBD can block the intoxicating effects of THC in some instances, in others, it may serve to potentiate them.

A study published in Biochemical Pharmacology (2005), described the role played by the CYP2C9 enzyme in how THC metabolizes. Researchers found that CYP2C9, “exhibited high affinity for the hydroxylation of delta9-THC.”

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When it comes to cannabidiol, its presence inhibits the presence of the CYP2C9 enzyme. So by administering CBD before THC consumption, the lower levels of this enzyme induce higher blood levels of THC.

Many medicinal patients prefer to diminish the intoxicating effects of THC present in cannabis. Anxiety, induced by THC consumption, is one side effect that some suffer. Within cannabis circles, the rumor that CBD can mellow out the intoxicating effects of THC is particularly common. Few understand exactly how that reaction occurs.

A study published in Neurochemical Research (2005), investigated how CBD affects the serotonin system and potentially leads to an anxiolytic effect. Researchers demonstrated, “that CBD is a modest affinity agonist at the human 5-HT1a receptor.” The 5-HT1a receptor is a subtype of a serotonin receptor. Research suggests that the activation of this receptor produces anxiolytic, antidepressant, and antipsychotic effects. In fact, many pharmaceutical medications target this receptor.

How Cannabidiol Can Potentiate the Effects of THC

In most cases, CBD diminishes the intoxicating effects of THC, but in some instances, it potentiates them. To fully understand what is going on, it’s important to note that THC also exhibits some potent medicinal benefits. These extend far beyond the “high” many attribute it to.

In a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology (2010), researchers looked into how CBD and THC interact with each other in the treatment of inflammation. They concluded that while, “THC was the most effective drug,” the effects of the phytocannabinoids were additive. CBD “increased some effects of an ineffective THC dose to the level of an effective one.” In addition, researchers also noted that, “THC alone and in combination with CBD protected cholinergic nerves.”

Many assume CBD only diminishes the perceived adverse effects of THC. However, it turns out that CBD can also effectively potentiate additional properties of it. If the “high” that a consumer experiences is merely defined by how spaced out or how much anxiety and confusion they can tolerate, then CBD can no doubt bring balance. If however, it’s determined based on the medicinal properties THC also offers, then CBD can help potentiate the benefits.

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While not an Intoxicant, Cannabidiol is Still Psychoactive

Even though it’s legal in forty-seven states in the U.S., and is not intoxicating, CBD does exhibit psychoactive effects in and of itself.

It’s a mood-altering substance. So, patients won’t find themselves feeling paranoid or anxious. However, it definitely alters a patient’s brain activity, something that’s demonstrated by its effects on psychosis, depression, memory, and seizures.

After years of prohibition based on the effects of THC interacting with the CB1 receptors, it turns out that cannabidiol plays a significant role in how consumers feel when they medicate. As we begin to understand more deeply the nature of these potent synergies, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate with a more holistic mindset?

Author avatar

Francis Cassidy
Francis Cassidy is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics. With a particular focus on the cannabis industry, he aims to help ensure the smooth reintegration of cannabis back into global culture. When not writing, he's to be found exploring his new base in British Columbia, Canada. You can follow his other works including his photography on his blog

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1 comment

  1. very informative article! thank you so much!