CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, an exogenous cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring substances in both plants (phytocannabinoids) and humans (endocannabinoids). Cannabinoids interact with the body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Even though CBD is extracted from the same plant as marijuana, it does not cause a ‘high’ or have any intoxicating effects. The mind-altering properties of cannabis are produced by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Both CBD and THC can interact with our body through the endocannabinoid system.
In this article we’re going to outline what the endocannabinoid system is and how it interacts with CBD to produce amazing therapeutic effects.
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The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is a complex cell signaling system that naturally exists in the human body whether you use cannabis or not. It is believed that the main purpose of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain homeostasis in the body. It helps do this by regulating memory, pain, mood, sleep, immune system, inflammation and digestive function, just to name a few.
The endocannabinoid system is composed of two main components – the endogenous cannabinoids, also known as endocannabinoids, and the endocannabinoid receptors.
Currently, there are two major known endocannabinoids produced by the body – anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglyerol, and two main receptors – CB1 and CB2.
When your body is experiencing pain, inflammation and imbalance, this activates the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoids then bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors to perform the above-mentioned functions and help the body return to homeostasis.
The endocannabinoids bind to CB1 and/or CB2 receptors depending on where there is pain, inflammation or imbalance in the body.
CB1 receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and CB2 receptors are primarily found in the peripheral nervous system (all nerves outside of the central nervous system).
Now that we have a basic understanding of the endocannabinoid system, let’s get into the details of how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system in the body.
CBD & the Endocannabinoid System
When endocannabinoids are used in the body as part of their role in the endocannabinoid system, enzymes break down the endocannabinoids once they’ve completed their function. This means that endocannabinoids can’t carry out any other functions for the ECS which can lead to a potential endocannabinoid deficiency. This means that when the ECS is activated again, there might not be enough endocannabinoids to help bring the body back to homeostasis and relieve pain, improve sleep, reduce inflammation, etc.
That’s where CBD comes in. The chemical structure of CBD is quite similar to that of anandamide, the endocannabinoid produced by the body, so it’s believed that CBD can potentially boost the effectiveness of the endocannabinoid system.
Even though CBD does not directly bind to the endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2), it helps stimulate the ECS by boosting the uptake and reducing the breakdown of anandamide. This helps make sure that there are endocannabinoids available every time the ECS is activated.
Preliminary research has shown that endocannabinoid deficiency could be a possible reason behind some unexplained medical conditions such as migraines, fibromyalgia and Crohn’s disease, etc.
CBD has also been shown to interact with the serotonin receptors of our body to boost its uptake and production. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating our mental health condition.
As you can tell, the ECS is a complicated system in the body and there’s still so much research to be done but the preliminary research is very hopeful.
Hopefully this article helped you learn more about the endocannabinoid system and how it interacts with CBD in our bodies.
Any statements made in this post are not intended to replace advice from a medical professional. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product.