How does CBD work?
It is important to first understand that all of us have an endocannabinoid system that regulates and balances our other internal systems. While not typically taught in our mainstream educational system, a healthy endocannabinoid system much like a healthy cardiovascular system, is necessary for our health.
Most predominant inside the resin glands (trichomes1) of the female cannabis plant, CBD is one of over 80 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids2. Cannabinoids are agonists that bind to special receptors on your body’s cells, called cannabinoid receptors3.
You can think of agonists as keys and cannabinoid receptors as locks. By consuming cannabis, you are taking in agonists that interact with different locks on cells in the body. Together, these cell receptors make up a largerendocannabinoid system4.
Certain receptors are heavily concentrated in the central nervous system while cannabinoid receptors are found in almost every organ of the body. Cannabinoid receptors are found in the skin, digestive tract, and even in the reproductive organs.
The endocannabinoid system is a vast network of cell receptor proteins with many functions. Some describe5 the endocannabinoid system as the greatest neurotransmitter system in the body. It lends a hand in seemingly just about everything to optimal health including:
- motor control
- immune function8
- pain perception10
- **** development13
Four primary purposes14 of the endocannabinoid system 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.
Endo means inside and cannabinoid refers to action on cannabinoid receptors. In contrast, the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are technically called phytocannabinoids.
It’s not often that a plant compound can make headlines over and over again. However, Hemp Derived CBD is a phytocannabinoid with some serious potential.
There is still much to learn about CBD. However, scientists have discovered that the compound does a lot more than engage cannabinoid receptors. The effects of CBD in the body are broad and far-reaching. Thus far, the cannabinoid is known to also directly or indirectly affect the following:
- Vanilloid receptors15(important for pain modulation)
- Adenosine receptors16(important for the sleep-wake cycle)
- Serotonin receptors17(important for mood and stress management)
Some rodent studies suggest that CBD may also work by blocking a particular fatty acid known as fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). The enzyme that’s responsible for breaking down the naturally occurring endocannabinoid anandamide18 in your body.
Anandamide is also known as the “bliss molecule” or the human THC. It helps regulate basic functions like pleasure and reward, appetite, memory, sleep, and pain.
The oversimplified theory19 was that with nothing to break anandamide into smaller parts, CBD boosts the amount20 of this chemical in your system. In some cases, this could theoretically improve endocannabinoid tone.
However, a 2015 study21 published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry suggest that CBD does not inhibit FAAH in humans. Rather, they suggest that the compound engages proteins that bind anandamide to FAAH, not to FAAH itself. Regardless, the cannabinoid is still linked to a spike in the bliss molecule. However, how it achieves this is unknown.