28 Mar CBD Oil Isn’t Addictive. Here’s Why.
Containing little to no THC, hemp-derived CBD oil does not affect the brain’s “reward” system like other potentially addictive substances.
Because of CBD oil’s relationship to cannabis, it’s not uncommon for those new to the supplement to be wary about whether it carries a risk for abuse and addiction. In fact – CBD oil is not addictive, and it’s shown to be safe even at high serving sizes for people of all ages.
To understand why CBD oil is not addictive, you’ve first got to break down how substances that are potentially addictive change how chemicals and structures work in the brain, particularly those related to your brain’s reward system.
What it Means to be Addicted
Addiction is a primary and chronic disease that affects approximately 21.5 million Americans. When someone is addicted to a substance, it means that the structure of their brain has been altered in a way that causes them to compulsively seek it, regardless of the harm they’re doing to their personal health and family.
With addiction, a physical reliance on the substance develops and if that person is unable to use the substance, withdrawal symptoms will arise. The uncontrollable strong cravings associated with addiction can compel a person to take dangerous risks to obtain the substance they’re addicted to.
Over time, dependence on a drug creates a state of tolerance in which larger quantities are needed to satisfy the desire and need for that substance. This eventually causes a person to have to increase their intake to ease withdrawal symptoms and feel good again.
Addiction and the Reward System
Whether a substance can cause dependency and addiction depends on whether it disrupts how brain chemicals and structures work in the brain. Nearly all of the substances that are potentially addictive target the brain’s dopamine-based reward system.
The reward system of the brain is responsible for providing natural rewards and positive reinforcement for completing behaviors that contribute to the body’s biological survival. Eating, drinking water, nurturing, and sex are some of the activities that stimulate the reward system.
When stimulated, the dopamine-reward system causes the brain’s ventral tegmental area (VTA) and neurons in the substantia nigra to release a hormone called dopamine. Dopamine, also commonly referred to as the “pleasure hormone,” produces sensations of euphoria and happiness.
Drugs and substances that over-stimulate this reward system can lead to dependency and addiction. The majority of addictive drugs act on dopamine levels in either the nucleus accumbens (amphetamine, cocaine, nicotine, and opiates) or the VTA (opiates, alcohol, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines). Addictive drugs can cause the brain to release 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards like eating do.
Over time, these over-intense effects on the brain’s pleasure circuits dwarf those that are produced by naturally rewarding behaviors. As a result, dopamine’s impact on the reward system becomes abnormally low, prompting a person to take larger amounts of the drug to produce the familiar dopamine high. This strongly motivates a person to take drugs over and over again to feel pleasure.
Why CBD Oil Isn’t Addictive
Hemp-derived CBD oil isn’t addictive because it doesn’t impact the brain’s dopamine-reward system.
Made from the stalks and seeds of hemp, CBD oil is dominated by cannabidiol (CBD), a naturally occurring and non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It also contains other nutritious material like vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, terpenes, chlorophyll, amino acids, and trace levels of more than 85 different cannabinoids.
Unlike marijuana, hemp-derived CBD oil contains only trace amounts of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive cannabinoid that causes a euphoric high. Hemp, by definition, contains no more than 0.3 percent THC – about 33 times less than the lowest potent marijuana. As a result, CBD oil doesn’t elicit any intoxicating effects.
It’s because CBD oil contains trace to no levels of THC that it is not addictive.
You may have heard of some people becoming addicted to marijuana. Evidence suggests that some 4.3 percent of Americans have been dependent on marijuana at some time.
It’s the THC found in marijuana that causes it to be addictive in some people. THC directly binds with the brain’s cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors to trigger the intoxicating effects associated with marijuana use.
Activating these CB1 receptors also affects the brain’s reward system and the release of the “pleasure hormone,” dopamine, according to researchers. The pleasant sensations after marijuana use can retrain the brain’s reward system in a small number of people.
CBD, however, does not stimulate the brain’s dopamine-based reward system. In fact, CBD has shown to even serve as an “antagonist” of CB1 receptors. This means that CBD actually blocks THC from binding with the cannabinoid receptors, toning down its effects on the release of dopamine.
How CBD Oil Interacts with Your Body’s Systems
Like all cannabinoids, CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a signaling network that is responsible for regulating many of the body’s functions, including mood, appetite, and sleep.
The endocannabinoid system’s two major cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2. While THC directly binds with CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD has little affinity for them. Instead, it acts as an indirect antagonist of cannabinoid receptors. This means that CBD acts to suppress the CB1 and CB2 activating qualities of a cannabinoid like THC.
Through its interaction with the cannabinoid receptors, CBD helps stimulate the endocannabinoid system to promote balance in our systems.
With more being learned about CBD’s balancing and restorative effects every day, many people have started to incorporate hemp-derived CBD oil into their routine as a daily supplement. Adding cannabinoids like CBD to your diet is widely acknowledged as beneficial for supporting homeostasis.
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