How does CBD work?
Your body actually has areas that are made specifically for cannabinoids — they are called cannabinoid receptor sites, cannabinoids bind to theses receptors on your cells.
Certain receptors are heavily concentrated in the central nervous system while others are found in almost every organ of the body. Cannabinoid receptors are even found in the skin, digestive tract, and even in the reproductive organs.
These sites make up the endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for numerous physiological and mental processes that occur naturally within the body.
These receptors fall into two types: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found mainly in the brain (but also in the liver, kidneys, and lungs), while CB2 receptors are found mainly in the immune system.
Also, since people often take numerous different cannabinoids together (for example, using medical marijuana), it is hard to attribute specific effects to specific cannabinoids. That’s because unprocessed cannabis includes more than 60 different types of cannabinoids, including CBD and THC.
In addition, some cannabinoids interact synergistically, producing unique effects that are not found when using them individually. For example, CBD inhibits THC’s psychotropic effects when the two are taken together. However, CBD does this (and produces many other effects) without directly interacting with the cannabinoid receptors. At first, scientists thought there was a third type of CBD receptor just for Cannabidiol, but the answer was far more interesting and revealing.
CBD is fairly unique as far as cannabinoids go, because it does not seem to interact directly with either the CB1 or CB2 receptors. So what does it do if it’s not interacting directly with our receptors?
Here’s where it gets good…
Cannabidiol has a particularly low potential for binding with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but instead acts as an antagonist of the receptors’ agonists. That’s a mouthful.
In layman’s terms, this means that CBD keeps the receptors working at optimal capacity and helps the function of all other cannabinoids, including the body’s own endocannabinoids.
The indirect interactions of CBD with the endocannabinoid system has many effects, some of which surprised scientists and are still being researched.
Some of CBD’s functions include:
Effectively increases CB1 density, amplifying the effects of all cannabinoids that bind to CB1 receptors.
Acts as a 5-HT1a receptor agonist in the brain. This means that CBD has calming and soothing effects such as some potent analgesics, but without the side effects.
Acts as inverse agonist of CB2 receptors, effectively reducing the effects of cannabinoids that make CB2 receptors less responsive.
Acts as an antagonist for the putative GPR55 receptor, an element of the endocannabinoid system that is still being researched. (It is suggested that GPR55 may be a third type of cannabinoid receptor altogether.)
Between the above functions, most of CBD’s observed effects are well explained. However, scientists are still unclear about how some effects of Cannabidiol are actually occurring. The most possible explanation is via the hypothetical GPR55 receptor, or through more indirect and synergistic effects that still await discovery.
The indirect nature of CBD’s effects have made it difficult for scientists to pinpoint its exact effects up to now, but many positive effects of this unusual phytocannabinoid are still being studied.
The endocannabinoid system is closely interconnected with the nervous and immune system. Since CBD has been shown to boost just about every function of our cannabinoid receptors, it is proven to have far-reaching soothing and relaxing effects.
The ECS as the greatest neurotransmitter system in the body. It lends a hand in seemingly just about everything, including:
Four primary purposes of the ECS include neuroprotection, stress recovery, immune balance, and homeostatic regulation. The last one is a fancy way of referring to a system that creates optimum energy balance in the body.
Somehow, CBD seems to tap into this balancing system to produce its therapeutic effects. CBD is able to interact with cells in our bodies because the molecule has a similar composition to similar chemicals that the human body produces naturally, called endocannabinoids.
It’s not often that a plant compound can make headlines over and over again. However, CBD is a phytocannabinoid with some serious life-saving potential.
In fact, CBD has only gained mainstream attention quite recently, after the family of one brave little girl decided to throw caution to the wind and speak out about medical cannabis.