The cannabinoid cannabidiol, more commonly know as CBD, has begun to be embraced by mainstream society as an alternative to its cousin THC, allowing consumers to reap its potential medicinal benefits while avoiding the infamous “high” that cannabis is known for.
Many in the community have dubbed CBD as “non-psychoactive” because of this lack of euphoria. Others feel differently, arguing that because CBD has an effect on our brains and behavior it is indeed psychoactive.
Let’s get to the bottom of this, shall we?
What does the term “psychoactive” really mean?
The word psychoactive is made up of two parts – “psych” and “active.” Psych stands for the mind, mental processes and activities. It is often used as an abbreviation of psychology, the science of the mind and behavior.
“Active” is a verb, producing or involving an action of movement. Together, as psychoactive, they become an adjective used to describe something that activates the mind. The official definition is “affecting the mind or behavior.”
So, any compound that may have an effect on a person’s mind or behavior can be considered psychoactive.
Does CBD have an effect on the mind or behaviors?
Most studies point to yes. Cannabidiol has been lauded for its potential effectiveness as a treatment for conditions like anxiety and depression for some time. Preclinical evidence supports CBD as a therapeutic for a variety of anxiety disorders, including Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder thanks to it’s anxiolytic, panicolytic, and anti compulsive effects. CBD is also being looked at as a neuroprotectant, capable of treating conditions like Post Concussion Syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.
Another important piece of this puzzle is the endocannabinoid system. This system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis within the human body and is made up of cannabinoid receptors. When these receptors receive information about changing conditions in the environment, they signal their corresponding cell to respond in a certain way. So when cannabinoids bind to these receptors, they send a certain kind of message to the cells on how they should behave. You can learn more about that system here.
It’s pretty clear that CBD can have an effect on a person’s mind and behaviour, and thus it is not exactly accurate to label the cannabinoid as non-psychoactive. It is more appropriate to describe it as non-intoxicating, as it lacks the euphoric or inebriating effects of THC.