Does CBD produce dopamine? Finding a connection with the “pleasure seeking” hormone

dopamine receptors does cbd produce dopamine

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CBD is so popular it has become a household name among cannabis users. A Forbes article even compared its popularity to that of A-list American celebrities like Taylor Swift, Kanye, and even the revered Beatles and concluded it’s more popular!

But popularity aside, CBD boasts some noteworthy health benefits even if, at the moment, research isn’t very conclusive about these. From its potential to reduce stress, anxiety, and pain to possibly alleviating insomnia and even suppressing appetite (for weight loss), CBD is fast becoming the jack of all trades of natural supplements.

But despite this larger-than-life image, there’s no harm in interrogating these claims. After all, the FDA hasn’t seen it fit to approve CBD for treating other health issues besides epilepsy. And with many CBD health claims flying all over, separating the chaff from the wheat can be difficult.

In this article, we seek to establish the answer to “does CBD produce dopamine.” Let’s get to it.

Does CBD Produce Dopamine Key Takeaways

  • CBD and dopamine share some similarities in the physiological processes they mediate.
  • CBD may be involved in determining dopamine levels in the brain, but there’s little evidence to suggest it produces it.
  • Dopamine is naturally produced in the brain and is mainly known for its role in reinforcing pleasurable behavior.

CBD and Dopamine

What’s the link between CBD and dopamine? And does CBD produce dopamine?

It appears these two unrelated compounds may be involved in similar physiologic and behavioral responses. For instance, both compounds are implicated in stress response, sleep, pain processing, emotion regulation, and blood flow.

But before we delve deep, let’s overview CBD and dopamine.

CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis. It’s the second-most abundant compound after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in landrace strains. In some hybrids, it’s, by far, the most abundant. That’s because the 2018 Farm Bill regulates THC levels in legal cannabis, otherwise known as hemp.

CBD is primarily a CB2 receptor agonist, i.e., it preferentially binds to the CB2 receptor. This receptor is mainly found in the peripheral nervous and immune systems, where its roles are thought to be immunomodulatory and regulation of inflammatory responses.

On the other hand, dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced in the brain. While it’s appreciated chiefly for supporting motivation, it’s also involved in other critically important functions, such as controlling movement.

Due to its mood-enhancing effect, dopamine is also known as a “feel good” hormone. It regulates the brain’s reward circuitry and drives you to partake in things you find pleasurable, e.g., snacking, sex, smoking, shopping, doing drugs, etc. Consequently, this hormone is also believed to play a part in behavior reinforcement. That’s why you keep doing what makes you happy!

Learn more about the differences between CBD and THC in this blog.

What Are the Benefits of Dopamine?

Dopamine is not just a pleasure-seeking hormone. This neurotransmitter is also involved in other crucial processes. These include the following:

  • Stress response
  • Sleep
  • Reward-seeking behavior
  • Regulation of insulin
  • Processing of pain
  • Pancreatic functioning
  • Motor control
  • Memory and focus
  • Learning, productivity, planning
  • Functioning of heart and kidney
  • Emotions & mood
  • Digestive processes
  • Blood flow

So, as you can see, it’s important to have optimal dopamine levels. How do you do this? This takes us back to the question: does CBD affect dopamine?

Does CBD Affect Dopamine?

It should be noted that the increase in dopamine occurs in a CB1 receptor-dependent manner. In other words, dopamine increase is linked to the activation of the CB1 receptors, which only CB1 receptor agonists like THC and WIN55,212-2 (a synthetic CB1 receptor agonist) are capable of.

CBD is actually a CB1 receptor antagonist, i.e., it restricts the activity of CBD agonist molecules at this receptor. This is why it’s also thought to neutralize the psychoactive effects of THC. In effect, this would mean CBD might affect dopamine by downregulating its production.

But leaving it at that would be premature. CBD is a unique cannabinoid that interacts with various receptors within and beyond the endocannabinoid system (ECS). These include the dopamine receptors.

The tricky thing about dopamine is there are five different types, i.e., D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5. Each receptor performs various functions, some of which overlap. For example, D1 and D2 regulate memory, while D3 and D4 undertake cognition, attention, sleep, and impulse control.

CBD is shown to be a partial agonist of the D2 dopamine receptors, while other studies suggest it binds more favorably to D3 dopamine receptors. The D1 and D5 receptors are the ones involved in regulating the reward system, among other functions.

Overall, the effect of CBD on dopamine appears to be indirect. There are suggestions that being a multi-receptor cannabinoid, CBD’s interactions with other receptors could affect dopamine production. For example, CBD is known to increase anandamide (AEA) levels by inhibiting FAAH activity.

Higher levels of AEA lead to an increase in 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) since these two neurotransmitters regulate each other. Both are potent CB1 agonists, so their activation of these receptors increases dopamine levels.

Does CBD Affect Dopamine Levels

So, does CBD affect dopamine levels? The truth is that there isn’t concrete scientific evidence showing that CBD affects dopamine levels. However, given what we now know about CBD’s interactions with various receptors, there is a good chance it may affect dopamine levels.

Many studies investigating the effects of CBD on dopamine have remodeled its activity and shown that CBD’s actions may promote dopamine production in the brain. But does correlation imply causation? Certainly not, but it provides a reasonable scientific basis for making a hypothetical claim.

Does CBD Produce Dopamine?

No, CBD does not produce dopamine.

Dopamine is naturally produced in the brain via a two-step process. An amino acid called tyrosine is first converted into another amino acid called L-dopa which further undergoes a series of enzymatic reactions to form dopamine.

So while CBD does not produce dopamine, the little evidence we have provided suggests it may affect its concentration.

Does CBD Increase Dopamine?

Again, we cannot go all out and say CBD increases dopamine levels. Obviously, this cannabinoid displays multimodal action mechanisms, making it difficult to predict its precise effect on dopamine.

However, considering its effect on AEA and 2-AG, CBD may indirectly increase dopamine levels. Moreover, it’s also a dopamine receptor agonist, even if it appears to stimulate just two of the five dopamine receptor types. This could also explain the notion that it increases dopamine levels.

How Does CBD work?

Although CBD research is pretty advanced compared to other cannabinoids (bar THC), many aspects are still gray. As such, more research is still needed to clarify such elements.

Nonetheless, we have a better understanding of how CBD influences the endocannabinoid system. It’s been demonstrated that the dopamine network and the ECS work harmoniously to control various bodily functions, such as motor control and the brain’s reward system.

The most straightforward connection between the ECS and dopamine is that the latter regulates the activity of dopamine receptors. In doing so, it can regulate dopamine levels.

But to perform its roles well, the ECS relies majorly on two endocannabinoids or neurotransmitters, i.e., anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol. These display a fascinating relationship with dopamine through their activities on the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

In a nutshell, the link between CBD and dopamine is blurry. But while it’s sufficiently clear that CBD doesn’t release dopamine, it appears to have a role in its concentration levels.

What Is Dopamine Deficiency?

Dopamine deficiency means having lower than optimal levels of dopamine. Such a situation can be caused by various factors. For example, an injury to the areas of the brain where dopamine is produced can affect dopamine production.

You could also experience dopamine deficiency if nerve cell receptors don’t relay messages to the brain effectively. It’s also suspected that drug overuse can impair the brain’s ability to produce dopamine. This is actually how addiction happens.

Initially, a small amount of a drug triggers an outpour of dopamine. With continued use, your tolerance builds, as does the dose you need to get “high.” Remember that dopamine reinforces pleasurable behaviors, so you begin using more and more drugs, eventually becoming addicted.

Dopamine deficiency is linked to certain health conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, restless leg syndrome, depression, and ADHD. But before it gets to this, what are the signs that your dopamine levels are deteriorating? Look out for:

  • Severe lack of motivation
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of concentration
  • Moodiness and anxiety
  • Disinterest in activities you previously found pleasurable
  • Low sex drive
  • Troubled sleep

Other symptoms you should look out for are:

  • Hand tremors
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle cramps/stiffness
  • Anger and esteem issues
  • Loss of balance

However, it helps to remember that dopamine deficiency can produce varying symptoms. For instance, the symptoms associated with schizophrenia would be quite different from those of Parkinson’s disease.

The best way to know if your dopamine levels are low is by undertaking a dopamine transporter test. This imaging test creates distinct patterns (scans) that healthcare providers can use to determine if you have a medical condition.

Where to Buy Quality CBD Online

Now that we’ve answered, “does CBD produce dopamine,” you may want to purchase some for yourself. Here are a few options.

  1. Botany Farms CBD Gummies Mixed Flavors

These aren’t your standard CBD gummies. These little fruit chews contain 25mg of CBD per gummy diluted in premium broad-spectrum hemp oil to help you relax and unwind without losing focus. They are available in 6 different amazing natural fruit flavors to make chewing them enjoyable.

Dragon Hemp Relief Recovery Tincture

If you’re seeking relief from pain and inflammation, this Relief Recovery tincture could help. Each bottle contains 1200mg of premium cold-extracted hemp CBD blended with corydalis, turmeric, myrrh, frankincense, and other Chinese herbs to reduce pain, relax the body, and promote blood flow.


This high-quality CBD oil is made from an award-winning selection of full-spectrum hemp extracts skillfully processed to preserve naturally occurring terpenes and other beneficial cannabinoids. It’s available in different strength levels and great-tasting natural flavors!

Joy Organics Organic CBD Gummies

If you’re looking for an on-the-go way to get a natural wellness boost, these guilt-free gummies are certainly it. They are meticulously crafted with 25mg of broad-spectrum CBD per gummy and fantastic flavors.

Green Roads CBD Relax Bears by Green Roads

These classic Relax Bear gummies are your ideal companion for decompressing. Each gummy contains 10mg of CBD isolate. Each jar has 30 gummies in an assortment of delicious fruit flavors that you’ll find particularly appealing to the palate.

Hearst Newspapers participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission when you purchase products featured here. Please consult your doctor before starting any new supplement to see it is right for you.