In recent years, CBD has become a widely favored natural remedy for treating anxiety. While some people take CBD to soothe their everyday worries, others take it to treat more serious conditions like generalized anxiety disorder. But while CBD is a well-known remedy for treating anxiety, THC could make you feel anxious or paranoid. So can CBD undo the anxious side effects of THC?
The cannabis plant produces over 100 compounds, known as cannabinoids, and the most well-known of these are THC and CBD. THC is known as the psychoactive cannabinoid that is responsible for making users high, while CBD is non-psychoactive and can relieve anxiety, as well as potentially treat numerous other medical conditions.
The two compounds seem to work together simultaneously, and CBD is believed to counteract some of the effects of THC, kind of like reversing the high. Furthermore, you may have heard that if you consume too much THC and feel anxious as a result, CBD could be used to counteract these effects.
There are mechanical truths about CBD, which can help us to understand why it may be able to alleviate anxiety, whether it was THC-induced or other external stressors.
The Relationship Between CBD and THC
Although CBD and THC are two distinctive compounds, they work together in an interesting way. For instance, CBD has been found to enhance the pain-relieving properties of THC while also diminishing the paranoia that it may cause.
All cannabinoids perform their effects by interacting with the endocannabinoid system in the human body. More specifically, THC and CBD interact with cannabinoid receptors found on the surface of cells. The receptors are present in different parts of the central nervous system and immune system. The two main types of cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2.
THC binds directly to CB1 receptors throughout the body. More importantly, the CB1 receptor is responsible for getting users high. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t bind with the CB1 receptors but rather interacts with other receptors (like CB2 receptors) and pathways inside the body. This is why THC has psychoactive effects, but CBD does not.
CBD interacts with THC in complex ways, reducing certain effects (the high, sleepiness, munchies) while augmenting others. You could say that CBD in the yin of THC’s yang. You’re likely to have experienced this yin-and-yang balance with strains that contain both THC and CBD. CBD balances the buzz and softens the euphoria, or in some cases, anxiety induced by THC.
Typically, THC produces a euphoric high, sensory stimulation, and positive mood alteration when consumed. But with prolonged use, it can produce mental conditions like anxiety and paranoia in certain users.
CBD doesn’t produce any mental or emotional effects and can counteract the “high” produced by THC. In some cases, individuals consume CBD to reduce the potential negative side effects of THC.
CBD and Its Anti-Anxiety Properties
Although scientific evidence on the effects of CBD is scarce, increasing anecdotal evidence shows that it could help people with everything from insomnia to generalized aches and pains, arthritis, and nausea. But perhaps one of the most widely recognized things that CBD may help with is anxiety.
According to a 2018 study done on CBD users, anxiety ranks as one of the top three reasons why patients consumed cannabis-derived products, along with depression and pain.
CBD is thought to help ease anxiety by helping the body to process serotonin – a neurotransmitter and hormone that plays a role in regulating emotions. The process through which this occurs is believed to be similar to serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) – a class of depression and anxiety medications.
SSRIs target a serotonin receptor known as 5-HT1A and thereby increase the availability of serotonin in the brain, which helps boost your mood. A study done in 2019 found that CBD enhanced 5-HT1A transmission and reduced anxiety-like behavior in rats.
So while research is still ongoing, thus far CBD seems to be a very adequate treatment option for CBD.
Can CBD Counteract the Anxious Side Effects of THC?
Anecdotally, some cannabis users have reported that CBD could modulate the psychoactive effects of THC. You can think of CBD as an antidote to the anxiety and paranoia that may be caused by being too high.
With cannabis growing in legitimacy as a medication, researchers are starting to attach hard data to these anecdotal reports. They’re now beginning to understand how CBD may modulate the often unwelcome effects of THC.
In one particular study, researchers monitored brain activity at rest among 17 people after using different strains of marijuana. The two strains that were used had equal levels of THC, but one had high levels of CBD, while the other strain contained negligible levels of CBD.
Researchers found that the low-CBD strain impaired functional connectivity in the brain’s default mode and salience networks. The high-CBD strain, on the other hand, caused only minimal disruption to these regions. This discovery suggests that CBD could counteract some of the harmful effects of THC.
Another example is the synthetic form of THC, which is a drug known as Marinol and has been available since the 1980s. It’s a great appetite stimulant, but it’s also known to get patients high and paranoid.
When you only stimulate the CB1 receptors with the pure molecule, it can be very intoxicating, and most patients don’t tolerate it well. However, if you give patients a drug like Sativex – which combines CBD and THC – or even pure cannabis extracts, and they seem to tolerate it much better. It has been specifically observed that CBD protects against anxiety and paranoia, as well as the racing heart that is produced by THC.
Final Thoughts on CBD Undoing the THC High
Although CBD has been found to have a high safety margin, you should always take care when using it for medicating. That said, CBD could absolutely undo the anxious side effects of THC. CBD has potent antipsychotic properties, and many people use it to counteract some of the harmful effects associated with THC.
The bottom line is, whether your anxiety is THC-induced or caused by external factors; CBD is known to have powerful anti-anxiety effects.