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How CBD Works In The Body

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How CBD Works In The Body

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 100 cannabinoids produced in the cannabis plant, and it’s one that is taking center stage in the hemp and natural medicine worlds. Many people have experienced the calming and healing benefits that CBD can provide, but many are unaware of just how CBD makes that happen.

It’s actually a pretty fascinating process, and we’re going to show you why.

Your Body Has Its Own Endocannabinoid System

Did you know that your body makes its very own cannabinoids? It’s true! They’re actually called endocannabinoids, and they are responsible for maintaining something called homeostasis. Homeostasis is when your body maintains a stable internal environment (i.e. body temperature, pH balance, glucose levels, etc.) despite any changes that may be happening in our external environment (i.e. air quality, toxins, sun exposure, food we eat, etc.).

So, how do your endocannabinoids keep homeostasis within your body? Via your very own endocannabinoid system (ECS). Your endocannabinoid system includes two types of cannabinoid receptors: the CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor.

CB1 receptors are highly concentrated within the brain and nervous system. In fact, there are more endocannabinoid receptors in your brain than any other neurotransmitter receptor! Because of their high concentration in the brain, CB1 receptors are responsible for regulating your mood, emotions, movement, appetite, memories, and more. You also have CB1 receptors in connective tissue, glands, some organs, and gonads.

Your CB2 receptors are found mostly within the immune system (which is spread throughout the body), but you also have CB2 receptors in several major organs, including the heart, liver, and kidneys. You also have CB2 receptors in your blood vessels, bones, lymph nodes, and reproductive organs. Your CB2 receptors are responsible for regulating a variety of things, but pain and inflammation are two of the biggest.

How Your ECS Works

Now that we’ve covered the different receptors in your ECS, we’re going to give you a quick summary of how your endocannabinoid system works:

  1. Because your ECS works to create and maintain homeostasis within the body, it activates when something is not operating correctly (either too much or too little).

  2. Enzymes create the necessary endocannabinoids.

  3. The endocannabinoids attach to the appropriate receptors (CB1 or CB2) to stimulate responses. For example, if your body needs food, your ECS will create endocannabinoids, and they will attach to the CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus, which controls your appetite. This will stimulate your body’s normal reactions that indicate you need food (i.e. a growling stomach).

  4. Once the endocannabinoids have done their job and everything is back in balance, specific enzymes break down the endocannabinoids to prevent them from continuing to send signals (which would cause things to get out of balance again).

Your endocannabinoid system works in a very precise way, impacting exactly and only the things that it needs to in order to reestablish homeostasis. It will only regulate certain systems that are out of balance while leaving alone those that are working properly.

Pretty amazing, right?

How CBD Works With Your Body

CBD is a cannabinoid much like those that your body produces on its own, which means that it has the ability to stimulate and influence your endocannabinoid system just like your body’s endocannabinoids. Unlike THC, however, CBD does not bind directly to your ECS receptors. Binding directly to receptors over stimulates them (unless, of course, it’s your body’s own endocannabinoids that are attaching) and results in the well-known THC “high” feeling. By influencing your ECS receptors indirectly, CBD can stimulate your receptors enough to restore homeostasis without any over stimulation.

But CBD doesn’t stop there. Not only can CBD interact with your ECS receptors, but it can also stimulate several other receptors within the brain to achieve homeostasis. For example, CBD can stimulate your serotonin receptors, particularly the 5-HT1A receptor, to help ease nausea, addiction, sleep disorders, pain, and anxiety. It can also stimulate nuclear receptors in the brain to create the same effects as antidepressants.

Why Do We Need CBD If Our Bodies Make Cannabinoids?

Excellent question! If our bodies are designed to make their own cannabinoids that create and maintain homeostasis on their own, using CBD seems almost irrelevant. Well, you see, there are a lot of things that can disrupt your ECS and make it so that your body does not produce enough endocannabinoids to fully create homeostasis. In fact, having a lack of endocannabinoids or having an ECS that doesn’t function optimally is a condition called endocannabinoid deficiency.

When you have an endocannabinoid deficiency and it becomes difficult for your body to regulate everything properly, it is easier for you to develop diseases and illnesses. You can also experience systemic issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome; mental disorders like migraines; or even motor and cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

That’s where CBD comes in. By supplementing your body’s natural endocannabinoids with phytocannabinoids (those taken from plants, like CBD), you can help stimulate your ECS to work properly and provide your body with enough cannabinoids to achieve homeostasis. Not only that, but CBD also prevents enzymes from breaking down your body’s natural endocannabinoids. As a result, your body can retain more endocannabinoids and thus be able to function properly on its own.

All in all, CBD is the perfect supplement to help your body’s endocannabinoid system function properly when it can’t quite do it on its own. Why? Because CBD works with your body. Its similarities to your body’s own endocannabinoids, and its ability to influence receptors indirectly instead of attaching to them makes CBD a safe, natural, and effective way to help your body achieve and maintain balance in every way.

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Bienenstock, David. “How (and Why) Your Brain Makes Its Own Cannabinoids.” Vice. 29 February 2016.

Dellwo, Adrienne. “What Is the Endocannabinoid System? How the System Works and Its Role in Disease.” VeryWell Health. 16 December 2018.

ECHO. “What is Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency?” ECHO. 10 May 2017.

“Homeostasis.” Khan Academy.

Jikomes, Nick. “List of Major Cannabinoids in Cannabis and Their Effects.” Leafly.

Johnson, Jon. “Everything you need to know about CBD oil.” Medical News Today. 27 July 2018.

“The Brain Loves CBD: What are the effects of this major cannabinoid?” CBD Health & Wellness. 04 September 2018.


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