CBD is one of the most common cannabinoids found in cannabis and has quickly made its way into grocery stores, pharmacies and dispensaries across the country, thanks to its range of functional effects. In the general population, CBD is being used in health and wellness, food, cosmetics, and cannabis as its popularity becomes more widespread. But is this just a fad or is there evidence of the therapeutic benefits of non-intoxicating cannabinoids? Here’s everything you need to know about how does CBD work in the human body, as well as some of its effects and uses.
What are the effects of CBD?
In recent years, CBD has been widely studied thanks to its range of effects. This cannabinoid is best known for its balancing abilities that support many different functions in the body, helping with everything from bone growth to reducing inflammation, reducing pain responses and muscle spasms, and even killing cancer cells.
That’s the whole list, but is it all true? While science has yet to master the science behind CBD for its full medicinal potential, the information we have helps us understand how CBD molecules work in the body. All thanks to the ECS, or endocannabinoid system.
CBD and your endocannabinoid system
The endocannabinoid system is a relatively new body system discovered in the early 1990s, named after its documented interaction with the cannabinoids in cannabis. It is found in all living things, including invertebrates. The main purpose of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is to keep the body in harmony with itself, in homeostasis. The ECS is present throughout the body, including immune cells in the bloodstream, every brain cell, in the spinal cord, throughout the cardiovascular system, and on our skin.
The ECS is made up of three main parts.
- Endocannabinoids — these are chemical compounds naturally produced by the body to work with the endocannabinoid system. They are lipid-based neurotransmitters that act as messages sent from receptor to receptor in the body and brain.
- Endocannabinoid receptors — Endocannabinoid receptors receive and process endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids bind to endocannabinoid receptors, which also process the cannabinoids found in cannabis as well as certain terpenes and other chemicals.
- enzymes — The enzymes found in the ECS are used to break down endocannabinoids, cannabinoids, terpenes or others and cause a bodily response.
The most common and most studied cannabinoid receptors are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are most commonly found in the central nervous system and help regulate brain function. CB2 receptors are found in immune cells via the bloodstream. When endocannabinoids or phytocannabinoids (the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, such as THC or CBD) bind to these receptors, they trigger different responses in the body.
Unlike many cannabinoids and endocannabinoids, CBD can bind to both sets of receptors. That said, it can help treat a wider variety of symptoms and interact with the body by activating multiple biological pathways at the same time.
CBD offers so many different effects and therapeutic benefits because the body processes it efficiently. Each receptor in various parts of the body receives additional messages from CBD and reacts accordingly. So, for example, CBD processed in CB1 receptors can trigger an antidepressant or anti-anxiety effect as well as a pain-relieving or inflammatory response when processed in CB2 receptors.
How does CBD work in the human body?
One of the most interesting benefits of CBD is that it does not cause any psychoactive or intoxicating effects. In fact, it may dampen this effect of THC by triggering an inverse response from CB1 receptors when the two cannabinoids are taken together.
Regardless of its relationship to THC, CBD holds great promise for other therapeutic and medicinal uses thanks to its complex relationship with our endocannabinoid systems. According to current science, here are some ways CBD works in the human body:
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