CBD 101, Part 5
How Does CBD Work In The Body?
Through the first four articles in our CBD series, we've talked a lot about what CBD is, where it comes from, and some of its various forms. We know that CBD is a chemical compound called a cannabinoid, and it comes from the various strains of the cannabis plant, with the Cannabis sativa species being the naturally highest in CBD; however, we also know that in today's world of advanced science, most CBD products come from hybrid strains of cannabis. In addition, we know that CBD provides many therapeutic benefits without the psychoactive effects of THC.
It's great that we've established this base, but it doesn't really mean much to us if we don't understand how CBD actually works and interacts with our bodies. Today, we're going to dive into the body's inner systems to see just what happens when you ingest CBD.
The Body's Natural Cannabinoid System
Did you know that the human body has its very own cannabinoid system? It's true! This system, called the enodcannabinoid system (ECS), runs throughout your entire body and produces its own cannabinoids. Here's how it works:
The ECS contains two main types of cannabinoid receptors: the CB1 receptor and CB2 receptor. Enzymes within the body create cannabinoids, which are called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids interact with the ECS through the CB1 and CB2 receptors. What happens is that the endocannabinoids in our bodies link together with the receptors, like a lock and key. This "linking" effect activates the receptors, triggering them to carry out a series of responses that your body needs for healthy and proper functioning.
What Does the ECS Do?
The purpose of the ECS is to help regulate homeostasis within the body. Homeostasis is when the body maintains a constant internal environment. Maintaining homeostasis happens on a cellular level in every tissue, organ, and system, and it occurs through the use of the two main ECS receptors. CB1 receptors are concentrated mainly in the brain and central nervous system, but you can also find them in the lungs, kidneys, liver, and other tissues. The CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are mostly found in the cells that are associated with the immune system.
Because the CB1 receptors are mostly in the brain and nervous system, they work to regulate more cognitive and mind-body processes, such as coordination and movement, appetite, mood, thinking, memories, pain management, and more. The CB2 receptors work more as a response to illness, and as a way to help the body avoid oxidative damage (the damage caused to cells and tissue when they can't control the production of free radicals). Together, these two receptors help keep everything regulated within the body.
When a problem arises in the body, such as imbalanced pH or glucose levels, rising body temperature, cognitive issues, and illness, the body starts producing the necessary endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids will then activate the appropriate ECS receptors and trigger the body's natural responses to restore homeostasis.
If We Have The ECS, Why Do We Need CBD?
Great question! While our bodies are great at maintaining homeostasis, many of us begin to experience problems when our bodies do not produce enough endocannabinoids to achieve full homeostasis, or to properly maintain it. This condition, called clinical endocannabinoid deficiency, is suspected to be an underlying cause of several health and mental conditions. When the body's ECS does not function properly, the internal systems cannot remain regulated, which makes it easier for illness and disease to arise.
In various studies, scientists have determined that an endocannabinoid deficiency may lead to the development of migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and more. With the possibility of these and other issues arising from an endocannabinoid deficiency, it is so important that we make sure our ECS functions properly.
How CBD Helps Your Endocannabinoid System
When you have an endocannabinoid deficiency, or if your ECS isn't working properly in some other way, a great way to support your ECS and restore homeostasis is to take cannabinoid supplements. CBD is an excellent cannabinoid supplement because it doesn't just replace missing cannabinoids like traditional supplements. Instead, it supports and encourages your body's ECS to work properly on its own.
When ingested, CBD works with your body's CB1 and CB2 receptors to relieve endocannabinoid deficiency-related symptoms. Originally, scientists believed that CBD attaches directly to your ECS receptors; however, more recent studies show that CBD doesn't do that. Instead, CBD influences your receptors indirectly, helping the body use more of its own endocannabinoids. In addition, CBD stops the enzyme that breaks down endocannabinoids. As a result, CBD helps to naturally increase your body's endocannabinoid levels and relieve symptoms caused by an endocannabinoid deficiency.
But CBD doesn't stop there. Studies show that CBD also interacts with several non-CBD receptors, including your dopamine and opioid receptors, which help regulate mood, cognition, and behavior; the TRPV-1 receptor, which helps moderate pain, inflammation, and body temperature; the GPR55 receptor, which helps reduce cancer cells; the PPAR receptor, which can help reduce the possibility of developing Alzheimer's disease; and your 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, which can help reduce nausea and vomiting, addiction, pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
A Note About How THC Affects the ECS
Many are aware that both CBD and THC provide a variety of therapeutic benefits; however, THC also has a psychoactive side effect. This happens because THC physically attaches to the CB1 receptors in the brain. This direct interaction over stimulates the ECS receptors and interferes with the body's natural ability to create homeostasis. Because your CB1 receptors regulate appetite, cognition, motor skills, memory, mood, and other mental processes, the over stimulation of the receptors can cause each of these processes to also become over stimulated and impaired.
Because CBD does not directly attach to your ECS receptors, but instead works with your body's natural endocannabinoid-producing system, you can experience the therapeutic benefits without the psychoactive and over-stimulated effects that THC causes.
What to expect in part six: CBD and Terpenes
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"The Brain Loves CBD: What are the effects of this major cannabinoid?" CBD Health & Wellness. September 4, 2018.
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"What is Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency?" ECHO. May 10, 2017.
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