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CBD and Caffeine

About 70% of coffee drinkers, it is said, drink coffee soon after waking each day- usually within the first hour. For this group, this daily ritual helps start the day.

Many who take CBD also take it in the morning. Caffeine has stimulating effects, while CBD is generally known for its sedative effects, but what is known about the effects of these compounds if taken together?


CBD, found in hemp and cannabis, is one of the most studied phytocannabinoids in existence and provides many benefits through its influence on the body's Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

CBD is similar enough to the endocannabinoids produced by the body to allow it to influence the same receptors in the body's ECS, allowing it to help with various conditions.


Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, soda, and other drinks (small amounts are also found in chocolate, especially dark chocolate or cacao) so if you dislike coffee, you you can still consume it by eating or drinking other things.

Caffeine increases heart rate, produces a diuretic effect, promotes fat metabolism, and enhances the ability to focus. If too much is consumed, however, one can experience increased blood pressure, nervousness, headache, and nausea.

The effects of caffeine wear off relatively quickly- in 5-6 hours. If consumed in shorter interims, especially on a regular basis, one can build up a tolerance to caffeine, and will therefore likely experience less benefit (e.g., wakefulness, focus) from each "dose" (cup).

Caffeine is an adenosine blocker (scientifically speaking, an adenosine-receptor antagonist). In the brain, adenosine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it acts as a central nervous system depressant- it promotes sleep and suppresses arousal.

On waking each day, adenosine levels in the brain rise each hour until they finally encourage sleepiness toward nightfall. This cycle of wakefulness and sleep begins anew each day.

That caffeine "blocks" adenosine means that it attaches to the same receptors that adenosine does, preventing the normal drowsiness that would have occurred without caffeine being there. One "rule of thumb" states that with each cup of coffee, you set your body's natural "clock" back about three hours.

Caffeine also alters the body's natural levels of two other neurotransmitters- serotonin and acetylcholine. This perhaps explains why some also attribute a slight improvement of mood to moderate caffeine use. 

CBD and Caffeine

Although research has been done on the effects of taking CBD and caffeine together, it is often difficult to predict their aggregate effect on a case by case basis due to variations in consumption such as time of day, "dose" amounts, body weight, and tolerance.

As given earlier, caffeine "blocks" adenosine. Since adenosine activates a receptor called A1 that reduces the effectiveness of cannabinoids affecting the CB1, it may be said that caffeine can- by virtue of this mechanism- enhance the effects of cannabinoids such as CBD.[1]

On the other hand, cannabinoids such as CBD have the ability to slow down the body's metabolism and elimination of caffeine. It is said caffeine reduces the sedative effect of CBD, but this may in part also be due to CBD's ability to prolong caffeine's "lifespan" in the body.

By combining CBD and caffeine, one may be able to prolong the desired benefits of each compound, including alertness and focus. At the same time, CBD may buffer some of the negative effects associated with caffeine.

Therefore, CBD and caffeine seem to work synergistically to allow for more prolonged energy and focus with fewer of the negative effects associated with caffeine consumption alone.

[1] CB1 receptors are found mainly in our central nervous system (spinal cord and brain). Their activation is associated with cerebral and behavioral effects, and they play a role in motor control, memory and cognition, emotion, appetite, and the perception of pain.

Written by S.W. Afton

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