Can Green Out be Reversed by CBD?
Rumors abound that the antidote for a green out from too much THC is to consume more CBD. While it makes sense pharmacologically, here’s why it might not work.
The dreaded green out: that moment when beads of sweat propagate across your forehead; you swallow hard against the earnest efforts of the Taco Tuesday Special trying to liberate itself from your stomach; dizzy with heart pounding. You’ve consumed too much THC. All you can do now is grip the edge of your couch to keep yourself from falling into the abyss of certain death. There is no antidote except time and maybe peppercorns. But, hold up! What about CBD?
For most, when you take a bit too much of the cannabinoid, THC, the resulting green out kicks anxiety into high gear. No pun intended. It may feel like you are going to die, but you are definitely not going to die. Researchers are trying to find out if CBD can counteract these effects and bring a patient back down.
Almost everything in nature has a counterpart that balances the scales, so to speak. It’s Newton’s third law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. CBD is the other side of the teeter totter to THC. It is able top block THC’s activation of CB1 receptor. That much we know is true.
THC, CBD, and the Anxiety of a Green Out
A study — published in Psychopharmacology (1982) — has demonstrated that CBD can cancel out the negative side effects of too much THC. Anxiety and cognitive challenges being the two key stressors during the unwanted ordeal that is a green out. As Martin A Lee writes in his book, Smoke Signals, “Cannabidiol balances the buzz and softens the euphoria – or, in some cases, the dysphoria – induced by THC”. If you smoke or ingest a balanced THC:CBD ratio you’ll have a relaxed calm and an increase in energy without the added anxiety and excess munchies. So it should follow that CBD can cancel the one way trip to hell. Right?
Well, a few years ago, a study, — published in the British Journal of Pharmacology (2015) — researchers found that CBD is a negative allosteric modulator and binds to a different site on the CB1 receptor. After CBD binds, however, the shape of the receptor changes and THC can’t fit anymore. This was discovered using cell cultures. So, in theory, CBD should modulate the high and even help you come down if you are panicking inside a green out.
Can CBD Make You Less High?
Research has shown that while CBD can reduce the psychological discomfort of too much THC, it can’t shorten the length of the green out and bring you back down to earth any sooner than your mission will allow.
The studies thus far have been on cells outside of the body and it seems that, while CBD blocks that activation of CB1 receptors by THC, it does not do this in people. This was even tested at super high doses of CBD (1500mg), and no effect.
On the one hand, it is disappointing to learn that you can’t end the misery of a green out by adding in CBD. On the other, it is nice to know that you can indulge in high CBD strains without concern that THC will be blocked from engaging in its medicinal benefit. This is good news for patients relying on both cannabinoids. A person can treat their anxiety, let’s say, with CBD but may be using THC to treat pain simultaneously. This means a patient’s pain treatment won’t be downgraded by their anxiety treatment.
Looks like there is no antidote (at this time) to a green out other than thoughtful consumption. Adhere to the Golden Rule: start low and go slow. This means you should wait two hours before taking a second edible (this is the usual route to the green out) and learn about proper dosing. And if you should find yourself in a green out situation, don’t panic! Employ some of the techniques we have covered in a previous article. Remain calm and fall asleep if you can.