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Does CBD Counteract THC’s Psychoactive Effect?

THC and CBD are the two most common cannabinoids, and they share a nuanced and special relationship. Read on to discover if CBD helps to minimise the negative effects of THC, and find out which CBD:THC ratio is best for you.

Can CBD tame THC’s psychoactive effect?

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The cannabis plant produces hundreds of different phytochemicals belonging to several families—cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and others. Among these, the cannabinoids THC and CBD stand out as the most sought-after chemicals.

All these cannabis constituents have their own purposes, but their effects tend to be more profound when combined. This chemical synergy is known as the entourage effect. According to this theory, not only do cannabinoids like THC and CBD synergise, but terpenes and other compounds as well. When it comes to our star cannabinoids, can CBD counteract or tame the psychoactive effect of THC? Find out below.

CBD VS THC

CBD and THC are the two most common cannabinoids encountered in modern cultivars. Although both produce beneficial effects, they feature a stark difference—THC is psychoactive, whereas CBD is not.

THC underpins the high produced by the cannabis plant. The molecule induces the often euphoric, enjoyable, and relaxing effects associated with smoking, eating, or vaping cannabis. However, THC can also pack some undesirable effects, giving rise to paranoia and even panic in inexperienced or unprepared users.

The secret behind these effects? THC binds to CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system like a key fits into a lock. These sites exist throughout the central nervous system; once activated, a series of chemical changes occur that give rise to an altered state of consciousness.

Researchers are just beginning to understand how CBD works in the body. Like THC, CBD also interacts with the endocannabinoid system. However, it does so in a different manner. The molecule doesn’t bind to cannabinoid receptors with much affinity. The fact that it doesn’t latch onto the CB1 receptor explains why CBD doesn’t produce a psychoactive effect.

Instead, CBD raises levels of endocannabinoids—including anandamide (often dubbed the “bliss molecule”)—that bind to native cannabinoid receptors. CBD also targets serotonin, TRPV1, GPR55, and PPAR receptors to produce its effects.

Through these pathways, researchers have found CBD to produce various outcomes. The cannabinoid appears to help individuals when they are feeling nervous and pressured [1] , and it may help soothe sensitive skin [2] and ease sore muscles [3] .

THC CBD

MIXING CBD WITH THC

Combining CBD and THC offers myriad benefits. Not only will it help tame the high, but the two cannabinoids appear to work better side by side. One of the easiest ways to consume both molecules at the same time is with a good old fashioned smoke. Select a strain that features equal parts THC and CBD and fire it up. These varieties provide enough THC to kickstart your CB1 receptors alongside adequate levels of CBD to stave off any adverse effects.

If you find you’re extra-sensitive to THC, try a CBD-rich strain with much lower levels of THC. You’ll still experience the effects of both cannabinoids, just with less of a high.

You can also try combining CBD oils with smoking and vaping. Inhale some THC-rich weed and keep a bottle of CBD oil nearby to modulate the high as you go. If the effects become too much, place a few drops under the tongue and wait for it to be absorbed.

Likewise, take several drops before your smoke to buffer against the psychoactive effects before they take hold. Taking CBD in this manner will enable you to dose accurately and readily.

CBD and THC each have powerful potential of their own, but what happens when you combine them? Can CBD tame THC's psychoactive effect? Find out inside!

Does CBD Work Better When Paired With THC?

Weed Week Weed Week Whether you’re a seasoned smoker or a first-timer at the dispensary, we’ve got everything you need to hack your high.

Cannabidiol—popularly known as “CBD”—is nothing short of ubiquitous. Not only can you find it in various forms in dispensaries, but in grocery stores, coffee shops, cocktail bars and all sorts of establishments hoping to capitalize on the trend.

Do CBD Products Really Relax You?

Besides oils and tinctures, you can now consume CBD in the form of infused gummies, gourmet…

And though there still isn’t a ton of scientific evidence to back up the hype, lots of people swear by its calming effects, with some favoring it vastly to products containing THC.

Do you even need the THC?

In an email conversation I had with Cami Noecker, the founder of Serra dispensaries , she explained that the two compounds can have quite different effects. “THC and CBD are the two primary cannabinoids that occur in the cannabis plant,” she explained. “The most important difference between the two is that CBD on its own will not get you ‘high.’” “THC,” she goes on to explain, “is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis,” which gives you “the traditional ‘high’ associated with cannabis.”

But according to Noecker,“CBD is much more effective when combined with THC,” and for that we can thank something called “the entourage effect .” “Basically,” she explained, “the two components of the plant when combined interact in our bodies in a way which produces a stronger effect. When you consume CBD with a small percentage of THC in it, the CBD will do it’s job better within your system providing you with better effects.”

The addition of CBD can also improve your experience with THC. In an email exchange I had with Andrea Sparr-Jaswa, the Director of Education at Farma , she explained that CBD can help those who deal with anxiety in two ways. “The addition of CBD can help to mitigate a negative outcome and keep intoxication more body focused and less cerebrally anxious. Conversely, a CBD-rich product with minimal THC presence may be just what they need, especially if they’re looking to treat symptoms without intoxication. A little THC will allow CBD to work more effectively at lower doses, but the goal is always to find the lowest dose that provides the needed medicinal benefits.”

Let’s talk numbers

If you’ve ever surveyed the vast array of CBD inhalants and edibles at a dispensary, you have most likely seen “1:1,” and “2:1,” written on the packaging, and maybe even “10:1,” and “3:1.” These numbers indicate the relative amounts of the two compounds, with the first number usually corresponding to the amount of CBD. (Though Noecker was quick to point out that you should always double check, as this is “not standardized between all brands.”)

In a follow-up email she sent me, Sparr-Jaswa explained that, in terms of standardization, she feels that “THC should always be listed first.” “Even if it’s in a lesser amount than the CBD,” she clarified. “Anything else is just confusing and inconsistent. If CBD is listed first only when it’s dominant, you have to go through the trouble of articulating that each and every time. And customers have to figure it out each and every time. Unfortunately, I don’t see the mislabeling going anywhere anytime soon.”

As one would expect, the higher the CBD, the less psychoactive your effect. According to Sparr-Jaswa “CBD may also help mitigate a negative outcome by preventing THC from binding as tightly to receptors, and keeping the high much more body focused than cerebrally stimulating.” Though I had one budtender tell me he could take a 2:1 (CBD:THC) and “still go about his day and get stuff done,” anecdotal evidence I have heard from some of my cannabis connoisseur friends indicates that this is definitely not the case for everyone. A 1:1, on the other hand, means you’ve got equal amounts of both compounds on board, which can give one a traditional—though calmer—high without as much (or any) of the anxiety or paranoia they may usually have to deal with when partaking in pot.

As with any new substance, however, it’s important to ease into CBD use, especially when combined with THC. Though CBD is “non-psychoactive,” there’s always a chance you won’t like how it makes you feel. “Ultimately,” explained Sparr-Jaswa, “the ‘start low and go slow’ mantra is imperative to convey, as a low dose for one person may be a high dose for another. Even a person who consumes large quantities of inhalants may still be sensitive to edibles,” so take it easy when making any changes to your cannabis consumption.

What about those lattes?

Living in Portland, Oregon means I’ve seen CBD shoved into every edible and potable product you can think of, from kombucha to cocktails, but it’s not the same CBD you’ll get in dispensaries. According to Doeckner, “CBD that is sold outside of dispensaries is not derived from the actual marijuana plant; you are getting CBD that is derived from another source such as hemp, or CBD created artificially in a lab. Although all CBD on its own is not psychoactive, it’s very important to remember that not all CBD is created equally and you need to know where your CBD is being sourced from.”

If you’re not sure where the CBD is coming from, just ask. “There are some amazing hemp-derived products in the mainstream consumer market,” Doeckner explained, “but it’s important to know what source the CBD in latte is [from], and what the concentration of CBD is in order to ensure you’re not being sold snake oil.” So order that CBD-infused cocktail if it calls to you, but don’t be disappointed if you feel exactly like you do when you enjoy a normal, boring, hemp-free beverage. (A regular cocktail is still pretty good though.)

Edited 4/20/19 at 3:24 EST: Post updated to clarify Andrea Sparr-Jaswa’s role at Farma, and to add a note on how THC:CBD ratios may appear on packaging.

Cannabidiol—popularly known as “CBD”—is nothing short of ubiquitous. Not only can you find it in various forms in dispensaries, but in grocery stores, coffee shops, cocktail bars and all sorts of establishments hoping to capitalize on the trend.