How CBD (Cannabidiol) Works
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the main active cannabinoids present in hemp. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive, so it doesn’t produce any psychological effects. The human body has a major regulatory system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the brain as well as throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. The endocannabinoid system is largely responsible for the regulation of mood, appetite, memory, and pain sensation.
The endocannabinoid system contains two receptors: CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptors primarily are found in the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord. However, they also are found in a few peripheral organs, such as the spleen, as well as different areas of the reproductive, gastrointestinal, and urinary systems. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are found mainly on white blood cells as well as on the tonsils and spleen. Immune system cells also have both CB1 and CB2 receptors, though mostly CB1.
CB1 receptors work with other parts of the body to produce and release neurotransmitters. They are involved in the lipogenesis process, which occurs in the liver. CB1 receptors also are involved with maintaining the body’s homeostasis, or equilibrium. Because CB2 receptors primarily are located within the immune system, they are involved in several different processes, such as immune suppression and apoptosis, which is programmed cell death.
These receptors can be stimulated by either the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids, or by cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. However, CBD, unlike THC, does not directly stimulate the receptors. Instead, it simply signals the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids to activate the receptors to do more of what they normally do.
In addition to CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD works with several other receptors as well.
When ingested in high concentrations, CBD also directly activates a serotonin receptor called the 5-HT1A. Because CBD activates this receptor, it produces an anti-anxiety effect. This in turn allows it to be involved in numerous other biological and neurological processes, such as addiction, sleep, nausea, and appetite.
CBD also binds to TRPV1 receptors, which are thought to mediate inflammation, body temperature, and pain perception. TRPV1 is one of many TRP receptor subfamilies that moderate the effects of a variety of medicinal herbs. In fact, the name “vanilloid” comes from the vanilla bean. Vanilla beans contain eugenol, which is an essential oil containing antiseptic and analgesic properties.
A subfamily of nuclear receptors known as PPARS are another group of receptors activated by CBD. When PPARs are activated, an anti-proliferative effect is created, which means malignant cells are prevented from spreading. In addition, PPAR activation also is linked to tumor regression.
One PPAR receptor, known as the PPAR-gamma, also is known to degrade a molecule linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. This is why CBD is a popular and likely effective treatment for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s. Other PPAR receptors are in charge of regulating genes involved in maintaining homeostasis and insulin activity, among other metabolic functions. Because of this, individuals with diabetes often benefit from a treatment regimen including CBD.
Not only does CBD activate a variety of receptors, it also acts as an antagonist for some as well.
Some studies have shown that CBD blocks an orphan receptor called GPR55. “Orphan receptors” is a term coined for various receptors that scientists are unsure fit in other receptor families. GPR55 primarily is expressed in the brain, specifically the cerebellum. The receptor is involved in regulating blood pressure, bone density, and various other physiological processes.
GPR55 also encourages osteoclast cell function, which facilitates bone resorption. In fact, excessive signaling of the GPR55 receptor is linked to osteoporosis. GPR55 also encourages cancer cell proliferation. This is why this receptor is often expressed when cancer is present. Because CBD blocks the GPR55 receptor from being expressed, it is thought to decrease the likelihood of both bone resorption and cancer cell proliferation.
Through the endocannabinoid system, CBD and CBD supplements are able to work their magic. By supplementing your body with CBD, such as in the form of CBD oil, you can activate and block these various receptor families in a way that best benefits your body. Remember, while there is strong evidence in favor of CBD and the ingestion of CBD products, nothing is medically promised or guaranteed. We always recommend that you research any product thoroughly before purchasing and that you consult your physician or another medical professional with any questions.