There is ever increasing awareness and media coverage of Cannabidiol (CBD) and its benefits with every passing day, but how does CBD work?
Well, we know that CBD is a phytocannabinoid; one of over 100 known natural cannabinoids occurring in the cannabis plant. We also know that it is non-psychoactive and you cannot get “high” from it. CBD is also known as an anti-inflammatory that can help with seizures, joint pain and many other health problems. This last one has been known for 1000’s of years!
But most of us don’t know how it actually works. Again with most things CBD-related, there’s a huge volume of information, so you can do your own research. We’ll just look at this from a very high level, keeping it very basic and hopefully simple. It can get very scientific, technical and complicated!
The key to understanding “how does CBD work” is knowing what our Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is, and the role of its CB1 and CB2 receptors. Cannabinoid receptors are involved in a series of processes inside the human body, including the regulation of mood, pain sensation, appetite and memory. They can be activated by endocannabinoids (produced by the human body) as well as by introduced plant-based cannabinoids (like those found in hemp or cannabis).
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The ECS is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.
Sensations in the mind and body are being controlled by cannabinoid receptors, which are located on the surface of cells. They are designed to interact with cannabinoids in plants which in turn are produced by the brain for use in the body according to necessity. A few of the common sensations which are under the control of cannabinoid receptors include appetite, mood, pain, sensation and memory.
The idea or concept is simple: when the body doesn’t produce enough endocannabinoids or cannot regulate them properly, your inner system is out of balance and you are more susceptible to illnesses and other concerns.
CB1 and CB2 Receptors
Two primary cell receptors make up the ECS, Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2). CB1 receptors are present in the central nervous system, and CB1 and CB2 receptors in certain peripheral tissues. These receptors were only identified by scientists in the early 1990’s.
CB1 and CB2 receptors play an important role in many of the bodily functions that medical marijuana is known to help. THC, for example, mostly binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors, when stimulated by psychoactive marijuana products, release certain neurotransmitters, which are what cause the ‘high’ feelings.
CBD differs slightly in that it also affects the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but not directly. When it gets into the brain, it stimulates a group of tertiary receptors found in the ECS.
The locations, density, and the overall number of cannabinoid receptors in a person is comparable to a fingerprint or hairline: It is a highly subjective characteristic of that particular individual which results in a range of responses to different cannabis medicines.
The ECS also produces its own cannabinoids. Technically, this system is simply being supplemented when a person consumes cannabinoids, terpenes, or other chemicals from a source, such as a cannabis plant which happens to bind to the receptors within the ECS.
Your body creates endocannabinoids with the help of fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important for this. Recent research in animal models has found a connection between diets low in Omega-3’s and mood changes caused by poor endocannabinoid regulation.
What is the Role of CBD in all this and How Does CBD Work?
THC binds to cannabinoid receptors directly, CBD does not. Instead, it works on an enzyme called FAAH (Fatty acid amide hydrolase), which is responsible for breaking down excess anandamide. Anandamide is a chemical, basically a type of endocannabinoid — the body’s own version of cannabis.
Robust levels of anandamide in our bodies are intimately linked to feelings of well-being and happiness, and a lack of anandamide to depression and anxiety. CBD stops the enzyme FAAH from breaking down all of the anandamide and therefore makes more of it available for use by your cells. This is why CBD is a natural mood-lifter without psychoactive effects.
CBD also activates other receptors, like the vanilloid, adenosine and serotonin receptors. The activation of the vanilloid receptors for example, by CBD, plays a role in the mediation of body temperature, pain perception and inflammation. Adenosine receptors activated by CBD gives the anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects associated with cannabidiol. Serotonin receptors, provide for anti-depressant effects and are involved in a series of processes from pain perception, appetite, nausea and anxiety to sleep and addiction mechanisms.
So there you have it………hopefully, this gives a basic response to the question “how does CBD work?” and why CBD is such a useful and effective supplement. It works differently with different people as we are all wired slightly different and can have moderation in response to it. More research is being published to support the scientific based finding of the ECS and it is worth reading up on the topic.
This post is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Namaste Superfoods or its staff. There is a wealth of data and information freely available on this topic and links to more scientific research and we suggest you undertake some of your own research.