Does CBD Get You High?
Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) is a hurdle for CBD because THC is the primary psychoactive component in cannabis. This close association between CBD and THC is likely what causes a negative reaction to the thought of using CBD as a medical therapy.
This study combats the notion that CBD causes a THC high by discussing the misinterpretations of prior studies on the subject. In fact, the researchers state that two particular prior studies “have caused much confusion and uncertainty whether oral cannabidiol (CBD) is safe and whether subjects who are treated with CBD run the risk of positive workplace tests [for THC].”
The Prior Studies
The first prior study analyzed the changes in CBD when mixed with a petri-dish simulation of stomach acids. Interpretation of the results yielded the researcher conclusion that CBD does convert to THC when exposed to stomach acids.
The second prior study also suggested CBD may convert to THC when taken orally. The conclusion was based on tests done on human volunteers.
The study authors noted that both prior studies were severely misinterpreted. This is due to two main reasons.
While CBD might convert to THC under certain simulated acidic conditions, it has not been shown to actually occur in living organisms. This is a classic misinterpretation of what could happen in practicality based solely on culture-dish tests results.
The results of the human volunteer tests were taken out of context. Traces of THC were not only extremely minimal in the human volunteers but the alleged THC was not present in urine samples.
Author Gerhard Nahler found it most surprising that an entire group of authors were “tempted to over-interpret results.” However, he felt that misinterpretations are not entirely uncommon, stating “People overlook quite frequently that “in vitro” results may differ significantly from conditions “in vivo”, particularly in man. In vitro results are suggestions, not proofs for processes in real life.”
The current study points out that the glaring difference between CBD and THC is the inability for CBD to bind to a person’s cannabinoid brain receptors (more scientifically referred to as “CB1”). As CBD does not initiate a physiological response when combined with CB1, it “lacks cannabis-like intoxicating effects.”
The researchers note that while conversion to THC may occur under artificial conditions “Over 40 years of research on CBD does not suggest a conversion of CBD to delta9-THC and/or other cannabinoids in vivo after oral administration.”
To avoid misinterpretations in the future, Nahler noted “The more a result is unexpected (or presented as such as it was in the paper of Merrick et al., 2016) the more authors should be cautious when interpreting and extrapolating results.”
This is a truly impactful study for CBD use as it takes direct aim at the common-yet-faulty belief that CBD is a psychoactive compound.
Authors: Gerhard Nahler, Franjo Grotenhermen, Antonio Waldo Zuardi, and José A.S. Crippa; Department of Neuroscience and Behavior, University of São Paulo Ribeirão Preto, Brazil and Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia Translacional em Medicina