Updated on February 20, 2024

Is CBD Depressant or Stimulant?

Fact Checked

Key takeaways

  • Based on its mode of activity, CBD is not a stimulant or a depressant since it doesn’t produce a direct effect on the central nervous system.
  • CBD may produce similar effects to stimulants and depressants depending on the dosage.
  • CBD produces stimulating effects at low doses while at high doses, it produces effects similar to depressants.

Based on its mode of activity, CBD does not fit into the description of depressants or stimulants. This may be largely because it does not directly interact with our bodies in the same way stimulants and depressants do. In this article, we would take a look at the possible activities of CBD at the receptors and how it improves sleep or promote energy metabolism.

What are depressants?

Depressants are substances that lower the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain. They reduce both functional and neuronal activity, diminishing arousal, excitement, and stimulation in various brain regions. These substances are often known as "downers." Examples of common depressants include alcohol and medications designed to promote sleep.

What are stimulants?

Stimulants are substances that enhance central nervous system activity, leading to increased alertness, energy, and attention. These drugs, such as caffeine, amphetamines, and cocaine, boost the release and activity of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. Stimulants can enhance cognitive function, reduce fatigue, and elevate mood. They are often prescribed for conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or used recreationally for their euphoric effects. However, misuse or excessive use of stimulants can lead to adverse health effects, including addiction, cardiovascular issues, and psychological disturbances. Proper medical guidance is essential when using stimulants for therapeutic or recreational purposes.

How does CBD produce stimulatory effect?

Research a low dose of CBD has been associated with stimulating effects, often reported to induce a mild sense of alertness, increased focus, and heightened energy levels. This stimulating response is thought to be linked to CBD's interaction with various receptors in the central nervous system.

Is CBD a depressant?

High doses of CBD have been reported to exhibit more sedating or calming effects. This may result in a greater sense of relaxation, reduced anxiousness, and potentially contribute to better sleep quality. The sedative effects are believed to be influenced by CBD's impact on neurotransmitters and receptors associated with stress and regulating anxiousness.

How does CBD produce its effect on the body?

CBD exhibits a biphasic nature. Lower doses heighten alertness and improve focus, while higher doses can reduce blood pressure and induce sedation. It is important to note that CBD is neither a stimulant nor a depressant.

CBD interacts with the body primarily through the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex regulatory system involved in maintaining homeostasis, or balance, within various physiological processes. The ECS consists of three main components:

  1. Endocannabinoids: These are naturally occurring compounds in the body that bind to cannabinoid receptors.
  2. Cannabinoid Receptors: These receptors are found throughout the central nervous system and peripheral tissues. The two main types are CB1 receptors, primarily located in the brain and central nervous system, and CB2 receptors, mainly found in immune cells and peripheral tissues.
  3. Enzymes: Enzymes break down endocannabinoids after they have fulfilled their function.

CBD interacts with the ECS in several ways:

  1. Indirectly Influencing Receptors: While CBD does not directly bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors, it can influence them indirectly. For example, it may enhance the activity of endocannabinoids by inhibiting enzymes that break them down.
  2. Modulating Receptor Activity: CBD can modulate the activity of receptors, altering how they respond to other signaling molecules.
  3. Interaction with Non-Cannabinoid Receptors: CBD interacts with receptors beyond the ECS, such as serotonin receptors (5-HT1A), vanilloid receptors (TRPV1), and others, contributing to its diverse effects.

The exact mechanisms through which CBD produces its effects are complex and still an active area of research. CBD's impact on neurotransmitters, anti-inflammatory properties, and modulation of various receptors contribute to its potential therapeutic effects in areas like pain management, reduction  of anxiousness, and more. It's important to note that individual responses to CBD can vary, and its effects may be influenced by factors such as dosage, method of administration, and individual physiology.

Factors influencing CBD’s effect on the body

The effects of CBD can be influenced by various factors, and individual responses may vary. Here are some key factors that can affect how CBD interacts with the body:

  1. Dosage: The amount of CBD consumed can have a significant impact on its effects. Low doses may produce different effects than higher doses. It's often recommended to start with a low dose and gradually increase if needed.
  2. Method of Administration: The method of CBD consumption (e.g., oral ingestion, sublingual, inhalation, topical application) can influence its bioavailability and onset of effects. Each method has a different rate of absorption and duration of action.
  3. Individual Biochemistry: Each person's body responds differently to substances, including CBD. Factors such as metabolism, body weight, and overall health can influence how CBD is metabolized and its effects.
  4. Full-Spectrum vs. Isolate: Full-spectrum CBD contains a range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds from the cannabis plant. This "entourage effect" may influence the overall impact of CBD compared to CBD isolate, which contains only pure CBD.
  5. Purpose of Use: The reason for using CBD (e.g., pain management, relief from anxiousness, sleep aid) can influence the perceived effects. CBD may interact with different systems in the body depending on the intended purpose.
  6. Tolerance and Sensitivity: Individual tolerance to CBD can vary. Some people may be more sensitive to its effects, while others may require higher doses to achieve the desired outcome.
  7. Timing of Consumption: When CBD is taken in relation to meals or other activities may affect its impact. For example, taking CBD before bedtime may be more conducive to promoting relaxation and sleep.
  8. Quality of CBD Product: The source, extraction methods, and overall quality of the CBD product can influence its effectiveness. Third-party testing for purity and potency is essential for ensuring product quality.
  9. Interaction with Medications: CBD can interact with certain medications. It's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before using CBD, especially if you are taking other medications.
  10. Overall Health and Lifestyle: Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, stress levels, and overall health can also play a role in how CBD affects an individual.

Understanding these factors and experimenting with different doses and methods of administration can help individuals find an optimal CBD regimen that aligns with their specific needs and preferences. It's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

Frequently asked questions

Does CBD have a stimulating effect?

Sleep benefits with CBD vary among individuals, with research indicating that low doses may stimulate, while higher doses tend to sedate. Discrepancies in experience may stem from the method of administration and dosage

Does CBD make you more active?

According to McGreevy, CBD might enhance performance before a workout by mitigating stress, enhancing oxygen delivery, alleviating swelling and pain signals, and fostering improved mobility.

Is CBD a depressant or antidepressant?

CBD shows significant psychiatric potential, serving as an antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like compound.

Want to Learn More?

  1. CBD for Panic Attacks
  2. CBDa Is Not a Drug — It's a Natural, Hemp-Derived Compound
  3. Nature's Wellness Warriors — CBD vs Hemp Oil
  4. CBD for Pancreatitis
  5. 5 Ways to make your Bed a Sanctuary


Oberbarnscheidt, T., & Miller, N. S. (2020). The Impact of Cannabidiol on Psychiatric and Medical Conditions. Journal of Clinical Medicine Research, 12(7), 393-403. https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr4159

de Mello Schier AR, de Oliveira Ribeiro NP, Coutinho DS, Machado S, Arias-Carrión O, Crippa JA, Zuardi AW, Nardi AE, Silva AC. Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2014;13(6):953-60. doi: 10.2174/1871527313666140612114838. PMID: 24923339.

Oberbarnscheidt, T., & Miller, N. S. (2020). The Impact of Cannabidiol on Psychiatric and Medical Conditions. Journal of Clinical Medicine Research, 12(7), 393-403. https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr4159

de Mello Schier AR, de Oliveira Ribeiro NP, Coutinho DS, Machado S, Arias-Carrión O, Crippa JA, Zuardi AW, Nardi AE, Silva AC. Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2014;13(6):953-60. doi: 10.2174/1871527313666140612114838. PMID: 24923339.

Linge, R., Jiménez-Sánchez, L., Campa, L., Pilar-Cuéllar, F., Vidal, R., Pazos, A., Adell, A., & Díaz, Á. (2016). Cannabidiol induces rapid-acting antidepressant-like effects and enhances cortical 5-HT/glutamate neurotransmission: Role of 5-HT1A receptors. Neuropharmacology, 103, 16-26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2015.12.017

The content on Nesa's Hemp blog is for educational purposes only. We meticulously research and cite our sources, but advise consulting a professional before making decisions based on our information. We derive our content from reputable studies and publications, but individual circumstances may vary. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of our content to every situation. Nesa's Hemp blog and its authors are not liable for any loss or inconvenience resulting from reliance on our information. By using our blog, you waive any claims against us regarding the accuracy or completeness of our content.

Let's Stay Connected!

Get insights on healthy living, CBD news, and the latest deals.

Subscription Form
*By signing up via email, you agree to receive marketing messages e.g. promos, cart reminders) from Nesa’s Hemp LLC. Consent is not a condition of purchase. Unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link (where available)
This product is not for use by or sale to persons under the age of 18. This product should be used only as directed on the label. It should not be used if you are pregnant or nursing. Consult with a physician before use if you have a serious medical condition or use prescription medications. A doctor’s advice should be sought before using this and any supplemental dietary product. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Void where prohibited by law.
usercrossmenucheckmark-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram