Education Feb 14, 2020

What does CBD feel like? Here’s how to find your flow

by Taylor Hogan

What does CBD feel like?

From tinctures to lotions, you've probably heard that many people are using this hemp-based cannabinoid to help them wind down, but how does cannabidiol (CBD) make you feel?

CBD is known for making you feel calm and collected. However, rather than making you so calm you space out or lose focus, it can be a natural way to help you concentrate.

To get a better idea of what cannabidiol is and how it makes you feel, keep reading. In this post, you'll learn what a flow state is, how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, and how you can use it to unwind.

What is CBD and how does it work?

First, let’s take a look at what CBD is and how it works in the body.

Derived from the hemp plant, cannabidiol is a phytocannabinoid found in industrial hemp. Along with your body's naturally made cannabinoids, CBD fits into your cannabinoid receptors much like a lock and key.

According to ECHO, a nonprofit organization helps families in need gain access to CBD, your body creates endocannabinoids, the keys in the analogy above. These natural cannabinoids, like anandamide, then bind to your body's cannabinoid receptors — the locks. It's this lock-and-key system that allows chemical reactions to take place.

Because CBD mimics your body's natural cannabinoids, it responds in the same way. This is why CBD can make you feel so calm, relaxed, and focused.

How CBD works with your endocannabinoid system

The endocannabinoid system regulates a whole host of functions in the body. Ultimately, it’s responsible for maintaining equilibrium or homeostasis — that is, your body's tendency to keep its temperature, blood glucose levels, and other factors within a normal range.

Essentially, the endocannabinoid system is made up of three parts:

  • Cannabinoids, like cannabidiol and anandamide
  • Receptors in the endocannabinoid system, like CB1 and CB2 receptors, which cannabinoids bind with
  • Enzymes, which serve as catalysts for the creation and destruction of both endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids like cannabidiol

Together, these three components play an important role in managing your appetite, sleep patterns, mood, inflammation, immune system, mental clarity, and metabolism.

CBD only binds to the CB2 cannabinoid receptor. Because of its shape, it doesn’t activate or react to the CB1 receptors. This is why CBD has no psychoactive effects.

What does CBD feel like?

Woman using Populum product

Now that we've covered what CBD is, let's take a look at the effects of CBD and how it makes us feel.

This is a largely subjective experience, so we’ll explore some specific examples to help clarify further.

Finding your flow state

Have you ever been so absorbed in a book or a project you’re working on that an entire afternoon effortlessly passed you by? If so, you were most likely experiencing a flow state.

What's flow? According to Katherine Moore, an organizational psychologist, a flow state is characterized by two things:

  1. Complete absorption and concentration on your current task
  2. An all-encompassing enjoyment of the task

Common examples of flow states you may have heard of include runners experiencing a runner's high, drummers playing "in the pocket," or writers finding their muse.

And whether you're drumming, running, writing, or doing anything else, you feel alert and at the top of your game. Physical fatigue, discomfort, and the effort taken up by the task — none of that seems to matter anymore. And as often happens, focusing on just the task at hand can help you feel much less anxious and stressed.

While there are several aspects to achieving and maintaining flow, we're going to look at how CBD can help you with your flow state.

When your brain is in flow, it releases a few key neurotransmitters. The most important one we'll be looking at is anandamide, a chemical compound tied to motivation and reward.

What is anandamide and how does it work?

Along with endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, anandamide is a naturally produced cannabinoid, or endocannabinoid, that interacts with the CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. It makes us feel happy and in flow. According to a study conducted in 2017, anandamide allowed mice to make faster and better choices. What's more, they were more motivated to choose the best outcome. And because CBD prevents enzymes from destroying anandamide, there's more of it to go around. In other words, CBD allows anandamide to do its job more efficiently and for a longer period of time.

In another study, researchers bred mice with a genetic mutation that prevents FAAH from working properly. FAAH stands for fatty acid amide hydrolase, and it’s the enzyme that destroys anandamide. Because there was less FAAH to degrade anandamide, its levels increased throughout the mice's bodies. As a result, the mice exhibited less anxiety and fear-based behaviors.

The hemp-based phytocannabinoid CBD has the same effect. It prevents FAAH from degrading anandamide. That means there’s more anandamide available to help the body maintain homeostasis and overall well-being.

Cannabidiol and the entourage effect

But cannabidiol is only one part of a range of beneficial chemical compounds in CBD. The entourage effect is what makes full-spectrum CBD tinctures a good addition to a well-balanced lifestyle.

Full-spectrum CBD oil products are made up of more than cannabidiol. They contain the full range of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients. Terpenes give the oil its distinct aroma, and the flavonoids are antioxidants that protect your body's cells against free radical damage.

These elements working in synergy are what create the entourage effect. Along with cannabidiol, these other phytonutrients work together to help you feel calmer and more relaxed.

Since full-spectrum CBD products contain the full array of cannabinoids, any CBD oils designated as full-spectrum hemp CBD oil will have trace amounts of THC. But because CBD oil is derived from industrial hemp, it’s below the federally mandated limit of 0.3%. For this reason, it's always a good idea to read the labels on your CBD products and check their lab test results.

First-hand reviews: How does CBD make you feel?

In our 700-plus reviews, people often discuss the calming and relaxing positive effects of CBD. As you try to decide which CBD product is right for you, you’ll also want to think about what your purpose for taking CBD is — whether that’s finding the focus to get work done or helping ease discomfort. When it comes to how CBD makes you feel, common themes include finding your center during stressful situations, gaining mental clarity, and calming down for a better night’s sleep.

Here's a quick snapshot of how our reviewers describe the feel of CBD:

  • "Great way to feel relaxed and focused." - Pedro P.
  • “I felt a slight softening of my ‘edges,’ then a lasting calm clarity.” - Taylor T.
  • "I have noticed it helps me to keep focusing on my tasks and job duties." - Anna G.
  • “Hard to explain. But I have an overall sense of feeling better as I use it daily.” - James A.
  • "It calms me down at night before sleep. Very relaxing." - Diana N.

While we've focused on CBD oil more in this article, there are many ways to enjoy CBD. You might find a hot mug of CBD coffee in the morning makes you feel alert and ready to take on the day. Flavors may be added — like a splash of orange — to enhance the tincture and heighten your experience.

Meanwhile, a CBD rub can be soothing at the end of a long day. The temperature and aroma of the lotion can influence your experience, so consider these as you’re making your choice.

How much hemp CBD should I take?

What does CBD feel like? Chemex and coffee cup

So how much should you take to get the benefits of CBD? Here's a simple rule of thumb.

If this is your first time using hemp-based CBD products, start low and slow. Begin with the lowest concentration available. Get used to the product and see how it affects you before trying high doses.

Then if you feel you need more CBD, gradually increase to a tincture that contains more milligrams of CBD per bottle. If you decide you need a stronger concentration of CBD, you can double up the drops of the medium-strength CBD oil extract.

Whether you opt for low, medium, or higher concentrations of CBD, you should ensure that your hemp oil has been thoroughly tested and approved by a third-party lab for safety and potency.

Because the CBD industry isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), finding quality products is even more important. This is where third-party testing is especially helpful.

How CBD can help you find your flow

Cannabidiol makes you feel relaxed and calm. With no psychoactivity, it's the perfect addition to a well-balanced lifestyle. You might enjoy the vibrant flavor of a tincture or the soothing aspect of a topical cream. Just make sure any products you order are approved by a third party.

And remember: If you decide to give CBD a try, start with a lower concentration so you'll have plenty of room to adjust the strength to meet your needs. It's a great way to find your flow, be more productive, and get more out of your day.

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