Does CBD Increase Dopamine? Debunking the Myths and Validating the Facts

10 min read

Does CBD Increase Dopamine? Debunking the Myths and Validating the Facts

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CBD oil is quickly gaining interest in health communities around the world. This plant-derived oil is believed to help with mental health disorders, pain management, and even with some serious neurological illnesses like Parkinson’s and autism. While we aren’t going to prove all these claims, there seems to be some truth to the fact that CBD impacts the neurological system in the body. Many CBD proponents claim the substance changes dopamine levels in the body. Learn whether there is a connection between CBD and dopamine or not, and how solace CBD cream may impact your ability to get things done.

What Dopamine Does For You

Dopamine is often called the pleasure chemical, or the pleasure compound, and that isn’t an accurate way to refer to the substance. An increase in dopamine can result in pleasurable activities, but at its heart dopamine is about motivation. If you get dopamine when you do an activity, you will be driven to do that activity again. You will often experience pleasure when performing activities that cause high levels of dopamine to be released in your body, but the pleasure doesn’t come from the dopamine. The dopamine release is a reaction to the pleasure, encouraging you to do the activity again.

It’s possible to become mentally addicted to video games, exercise, work, and especially recreational drugs because of dopamine. When attached to healthy activities, dopamine is a powerful and helpful substance. When attached to harmful addictions, dopamine can be distracting and harmful.

Dopamine is also directly tied to physical movement. Having low dopamine levels can cause your movements to be slow and clumsy, while healthy dopamine levels lead to rapid coordinated movements and superior physical learning.

If you feel depressed and aren’t interested in getting moving at the start of the day, you likely have low dopamine levels and could use a boost. You can naturally achieve a boost by exercising or sitting in an ice bath among other activities. Understanding how to get a healthy dose of dopamine when completing activities you want in your life will help push you to do them more frequently. Dopamine is a tool, like anything else, and understanding the CBD effect on dopamine helps you use the tool more effectively.

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Does CBD Increase Dopamine?

There are many rumors out there that say CBD either increases dopamine or that it increases serotonin and lowers dopamine levels. These rumors aren’t 100% accurate, but CBD does impact both serotonin and dopamine function and responses in specific ways. If you learn to understand how CBD changes your body and its important neurotransmitters, you can use that information to help control the way your body functions as well.

How Does CBD Affect Dopamine?

CBD doesn’t actually increase dopamine says a study published in Transl Psychiatry in 2016. Instead, it serves as a dopamine agonist at the D2 receptor. What that means is that it fools the brain into thinking there is more dopamine than there really is. CBD will make your body behave like it has more dopamine because it believes that to be true. Dopamine normally binds at the D2 receptor, causing your body to react to the presence of the neurotransmitter. CBD also binds at the D2 receptor, functioning just like dopamine does in your body at that receptor location.

Technically dopamine levels don’t go up when you take CBD oil, but you’ll feel the same as if they did. That means taking CBD oil just before you perform an activity you care about can be helpful in getting yourself to do the activity again in the future. If you carefully take CBD oil before doing something positive that you wish you did more, like going for a run or writing your novel, you’ll feel motivated to do those things again in the future. That’s the potential benefit of CBD oil, but it can have unintended negative consequences as well.

Using CBD oil before doing unhealthy things, like drinking alcohol or playing video games can help encourage you to do those things even more. Each of those activities already releases heavy amounts of dopamine, but consuming CBD oil at the same time can increase the effects even more.

Does CBD Release Dopamine and Have the Potential for Abuse?

According to this study highlighted in Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine marijuana, like other abused drugs has the potential to release dopamine into the body during use. Any substance that releases dopamine during use could become an addiction in the future. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear that CBD has the same reaction in the body. CBD can increase your drive by acting the same as dopamine in the body, but CBD does not increase dopamine like marijuana with active THC does.

CBD Has Less Potential for Abuse than Other Substances

CBD only appears to artificially fire the dopamine receptors rather than producing dopamine. While this difference is small, it means dopamine levels are not increasing and many of the body’s natural responses to those increased levels aren’t there. You’ll get a boost in the drive to get things done, but you aren’t as likely to get the dopamine rebound effect like you would when performing a high-dopamine activity.


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CBD Won’t Increase Dopamine But Can be a Tool for Motivation

According to recent studies, CBD won’t directly change the dopamine levels in your body, but it can still be a useful tool when used carefully. If you’re trying to develop healthy habits adding CBD to your daily routine can help you forge those habits. Consider using CBD early in the morning for a boost in motivation to get your day going. You could also take CBD oil before doing activities you struggle to motivate yourself to do.

CBD is unlikely to lead to long-term dopamine level increases in the body, but it can be a tool useful for developing healthy habits. Use CBD to help you exercise more regularly, eat healthy foods and get time outdoors and your body’s dopamine levels will naturally increase over time, leaving you feeling more motivated. CBD can be a useful stepping stone toward your goals, but only when you take it as part of a healthy lifestyle.


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The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act require this notice.
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