How CBD Works: The Details of Why Cannabidiol Does What it Does

how cbd works

Posted on May 18th, 2021

Do you know that the cannabis plant has more than 480 compounds? And cannabinoids are only a portion of them. In fact, there are nearly 66 types of cannabinoids, of which THC and CBD are the most popular. Hemp plants consist primarily of CBD, which is present in the stalk, flowers, leaves, and stem of the plant. It has tons of potential health benefits, so much so that scientists and doctors now consider it as a possible treatment for many health conditions. This article will go in depth on how CBD works.

On the other hand, marijuana consists primarily of THC. THC is the cannabinoid that gets you high. Many people assume that THC and CBD are the same because they come from the cannabis plant. Well, there are many differences, both in terms of intoxication, legality, and health benefits. Although CBD and THC are two of the most popular compounds, there are many other cannabinoids. Some of them are as follows:

  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Cannabigerol (CBG)
  • Cannabichromene (CBC)
  • Cannabinol (CBN)
  • Cannabielsoin (CBE)
  • Cannabicyclol (CBL)
  • Cannabitriol (CBT)
  • Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

What is CBD?

CBD is one of the most popular cannabinoid compounds. It has various potential health benefits, such as alleviating joint pains, reducing anxiety, boosting cognitive health, reducing seizure symptoms, and improving your sleep quality. CBD doesn’t exhibit any intoxicating effects because it does not interact with CB1 receptors the way that THC does.  

Effects of CBD

Most people don’t use CBD for recreational purposes like THC. Some doctors may recommend CBD as an alternative treatment because of its other, possibly therapeutic benefits. Many studies suggest that CBD is an excellent compound that can ease symptoms of ailments like anxiety and chronic pain. Here are a few more examples of how CBD works:

  1. Alleviate cancer-related symptoms

Different studies and pieces of research suggest that CBD helps reduce cancer treatment symptoms like nausea and vomiting. In fact, it may even have cancer-fighting properties, but scientists need to research more about its safety and efficacy to prove this.

  1. Reduce acne

Many skin conditions may trigger acne formation, such as oily skin, overproduction of sebum, underlying inflammation, and clogged skin pores. According to many reports, CBD can help with acne because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It also successfully reduces sebum production by preventing the activation of agents like inflammatory cytokines. 

  1. Heart Health Benefits

CBD has several potential heart and circulatory system benefits. As a vasodilator, it can help reduce your high blood pressure. High blood pressure can result in metabolic syndrome, stroke, and heart attack. Researchers suggest that CBD’s anxiety and stress-reducing properties are also responsible for keeping your blood pressure under control. 

Apart from these three effects, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may reduce joint pain. It is a useful product that may keep chronic back pain and arthritis pain manageable.

How CBD Works

CBD works in coordination with your body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system has various receptors in places such as the skin, organs, brain, and spinal cord. When you consume CBD, it communicates with these receptors to address your body’s imbalances. It does so with the help of two crucial receptors: CB1 and CB2. CBD sends signals via these receptors to your brain to ensure your body works properly. 

Suppose you have chronic back pain and no medication is working the way you want it to. You want to see how CBD works, so you apply CBD salve on your lower back for a few days. Once you apply the product, the CBD molecules communicate with your endocannabinoid system’s CB1 and CB2 receptors. They send signals to your brain to reduce your perception of the back pain. You may notice that the pain starts to go away slowly. Within a few days, many people find that the pain becomes significantly more manageable. 

What are Endocannabinoids?

The endocannabinoid system is a cell-signaling system that works best when you consume additional cannabinoids. According to research, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating a range of functions, such as mood, appetite, sleep, and memory. This system consists of three core components: receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids. 

Endocannabinoids (endogenous cannabinoids) are cannabinoids that your body naturally produces when it needs them. There are two crucial endocannabinoids in your body: 2-arachidonoylglycerol and anandamide. They assist with the smooth functioning of your body and its homeostasis. 

What are Phytocannabinoids?

A stressful lifestyle may hamper your endocannabinoid system. But phytocannabinoids can help balance your endocannabinoid system and ensure that your body can rebound. 

Phytocannabinoids are exogenous cannabinoids that exist in cannabis plants as well as some other plants. They contain glandular trichomes covering the plant’s surface. Does that mean phytocannabinoids and cannabinoids are different? Well, cannabinoids refer to a huge group of chemical compounds that regulate various biological functions in your body. Cannabinoids have two main categories: phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids. Plants produce phytocannabinoids and mammals produce endocannabinoids. But their end goal is the same- homeostasis. Phytocannabinoids have various unique effects and make up for endocannabinoid deficiencies in your body. 

cbd oil for seizuresThe ECS: How CBD Works

The endocannabinoid system plays a role in the following functions in your body:

  • Liver function
  • Appetite and digestion
  • Chronic pain
  • Metabolism
  • Learning and memory
  • Inflammation
  • Cardiovascular system function
  • Skin and nerve function 
  • Sleep
  • Motor control

The ECS has three components: receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids. Let’s take a look at how endocannabinoid receptors and enzymes work. These are the essential building blocks that explain how CBD works.

Endocannabinoid Receptors

Endocannabinoid receptors are present throughout your body. They bind with the receptors to send signals so that the endocannabinoid system takes action. For example, if you have anxiety attacks, a few drops of CBD oil have the potential to calm you down. Once the oil mixes with your bloodstream, it sends signals through the receptors to your brain. It tells your brain that stress is throwing off the body’s balance, which in turn reduces said stress.

There are two cannabinoid receptors that you need to know about, especially when you talk about how CBD works: CB1 and CB2 receptors.

CB1 receptors are present throughout your central nervous system and CB2 receptors in the peripheral nervous system. Cannabinoids bind with these receptors to send signals to your brain. However, the CBD molecules may not work with both the receptors at the same time. If you are consuming CBD to relieve pain, it will work with CB1 receptors, whereas if you take it to sleep well, it will communicate with CB2 receptors.

  1. Enzymes

Enzymes break down endocannabinoids. There are two main enzymes in the endocannabinoid system: monoacylglycerol acid lipase that breaks down 2-arachidonoyl glycerol and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) that breaks down anandamide. 

CB1 Receptors

One of the most crucial responsibilities of CB1 receptors is to inhibit neurotransmitter release. They trigger the adenylyl cyclase and voltage-gated calcium channels. CB1 receptors are also responsible for cholinergic, sensory neuroeffector, and adrenergic transmission. They activate MAP kinase and potassium channels.

Neurotransmitter inhibition and activation of potassium channels lead to pain relief sensation. Your body reacts to pain because of the dysfunction of pain signals. These signals don’t work when you injure yourself. You need an external push to make these signals work again. That’s how CBD works to signal your brain to reduce pain. 

CB2 Receptors

Like CB1, CB2 receptors are also crucial parts of your endocannabinoid system. They maintain your body’s balance or homeostasis. CB2 receptors regulate your immune signaling and inflammatory responses. They explain part of how CBD works in your body. CBD interacts with CB2 receptors and asks it to inhibit anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, CBD affects acne and hinders bone joint inflammation from arthritis

Why Use CBD?

These days, many doctors now consider CBD as a potential supplement for chronic back pain, arthritis, and controlling anxiety and panic attacks. Here are a few reasons why you may want to consider CBD:

  1. Pain management

CBD is emerging as a promising product for pain management. Your endocannabinoid system helps regulate your immune system, appetite, pain response, and sleep. But your body doesn’t always produce enough endocannabinoids. That’s why it sometimes requires phytocannabinoids to supplement the deficit. When you take CBD, it supplements the endocannabinoid shortage. They reduce inflammation by interacting with neurotransmitters. CBD is now a useful element that people are exploring for complicated conditions like multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

  1. Brain health

According to a 2013 study, CBD has great potential to raise your chances of not encountering certain neurodegenerative conditions. It not only successfully reduces inflammation but also decreases free radical damage. Scientists believe that this neuroprotective power is another reason why CBD is useful for patients who have seizures.

Conclusion: How CBD Works

CBD works primarily with your endocannabinoid system. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system’s receptors like CB1 and CB2. These receptors receive chemical signals from different stimuli according to what your body needs. Their pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects result in pain management. Topical CBD and tinctures can work to ease certain external or internal pains. This happens because the hemp extracts communicate with CB1 and CB2 receptors and ask your brain cells to stop perceiving the pain as much. 

The advent of CBD is a huge boon for humans. Scientists are still studying and coming up with new possibilities every year. Many countries are also legalizing CBD because of these health benefits. Talk to a doctor before you dive into CBD head first. It may interact negatively with some medications. Also, be sure to scrutinize the quality of the product you are buying, as the FDA does not regulate the CBD market.

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