How CBD Works With the Endocannabinoid System

CBD (cannabidiol) has physiologic and homeostatic functions ranging from the modulation of pain and inflammation to regulating body temperature. But, what exactly does that mean and how does this all work? To begin to understand this we must take a closer look at CBD and the endocannabinoid system individually.

CBD seems to be all the buzz in the media these days. How is this possible for a phytocannabinoid that doesn't offer intoxicating effects? Perhaps it's because it works.

Consumers and even research participants report CBD helping with everything from pain and anxiety to facilitating in kicking the addiction to alcohol and tobacco.

CBD is also showing up in the health and beauty and the exercise and fitness worlds. From topical lotions and transdermal creams to vape pens, teas, edible treats, coffee, and more, CBD is starting to dominate shelves in stores nationwide. But what is all this buzz really about? How does CBD really work so well, for so many people, for so many different things?

Understanding Cannabinoids and Phytocannabinoids

The human body naturally produces cannabinoids such as anandamide, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. You might have heard about these cannabinoids helping to regulate functions such as sleep and happiness. These cannabinoids work with our endocannabinoid system. For example, serotonin helps regulate sleep while anandamide aka “The Bliss Molecule” helps regulate the reward center of our bodies such as humor and pleasure. These types of cannabinoids are known as endocannabinoids.

Other cannabinoids exist that are plant-based. These are called phytocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids are found in abundance in the cannabis plant. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabigerol (CBG), and Cannabinol (CBN) are just a few of the hundreds of phytocannabinoids present in cannabis. The human body cannot replicate phytocannabinoids. Therefore, we must receive them by consuming plants.

The endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in the human body. It wasn't discovered until 1991 by Dr. Rafael Mechoulam along with a team of researchers from the National Institute of Health. Since its discovery, specific receptors called CB1 and CB2 receptors have been identified. As of recent a third receptor called the CB3 receptor surfaced. These receptors are scattered throughout the body located in tissues, muscles, and our internal organs.

How Does CBD Work with The Endocannabinoid System?

With a mention of the endocannabinoid system usually, you will hear about CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are where the magic takes place. When they become saturated with phytocannabinoids, increased communication between nerves and cells occur. This increased communication cause a plethora of positive effects.

CB1 receptors are responsible for a large portion of this positive activity. They are primarily located in the central nervous system, brain, and intestines. The reported benefits from the activation of CB1 receptors range from relieving depression to decreasing intestinal permeability, lowering anxiety, lowering blood pressure, reducing fear and paranoia, and more.  CB1 receptors have a rather impressive list of function that they help regulate.

CB2 receptors are typically found in the tonsils, immune cells, and spleen just to name a few places. One of the primary benefits from the activation of CB2 receptors is the destruction of the beta-amyloid protein. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol commonly known as THC has a particularly strong binding affinity. Unlike THC, CBD does not have any particular binding affinity to CB1 and CB2 receptors. Instead, if indirectly interacts with these receptors via TRPV1 receptors.

You might say CBD is a sexy cannabinoid that struts its stuff getting the endocannabinoid system all fired up. This stimulation aids in the reduction of pain while helping to promote homeostasis and decreasing inflammation. Even though CBD doesn't have any direct binding affinity to CB1 and CB2 receptors it still performs essential roles maintaining healthy ECS functions.

The induction of CBD to the TRPV1 receptors is also known to produce increased anandamide levels in the body. This results in increased levels of pleasure and happiness. It is absolutely incredible that we have the instant access to information like we do today. It is because of this that the knowledge surrounding CBD and cannabinoid based therapies are starting to become more widely accepted.

The Power of Plant Medicine

The National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests that the introduction of phytocannabinoids could be useful in the manipulation of the endocannabinoid system. A wide range of conditions ranging from pain and epilepsy to Parkinson's, psoriasis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, ADHD, anxiety, and more could be helped via this manipulation.

The United States is one of very few countries that rely upon chemical based and often synthetic medicinal treatments. In many countries the utilization of plant medicines ranging from lavender and eucalyptus all the way to cannabis are the go to treatment options. This trend is luckily starting to also take place here in the United States in a handful of states.

When it comes to cannabis and CBD it seems that they have the potential to help with almost any ailment you could think of. Here are a few:

  • Depression

  • Insomnia

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Anxiety

  • Glaucoma

  • Chronic pain

  • Arthritis

  • Nausea

  • Muscle spasms

  • Cancer

  • Seizures

  • HIV / AIDS

  • Epilepsy

  • Crohn's disease

  • PMS

  • Anorexia

  • Migraines

  • Stress

  • Neuropathy

  • Diabetes

  • Thyroid disease

  • IBS

  • Lupus

  • GI disorders

  • Hypertension

  • Alzheimer's

  • Hepatitis C

  • Osteoporosis

CBD is proving to have a powerful place in our medicine cabinets. Consumers are finding relief from allergies, help controlling anxiety, depression, and pain, and more with CBD.  Plant medicine is powerful. So much in fact that it’s still used around the world. Unfortunately here in the U.S. we are in the midst of an opioid epidemic that is claiming hundreds of lives each year. Often times people refer to plant based medicines such as cannabis as a natural alternative not realizing that many plants were a part of the phamacopeia in the U.S.. This includes cannabis until 1942.

CBD and The ECS Make A Mighty Powerful Pair

The ECS and CBD are essential in helping to regulate and maintain many important functions in our body. CBD isn’t just great for humans, it can benefit our pets too. Every mammal on the planet has an ECS. The more we learn about this imperative system the more advance our understanding of health care will become.

Thanks to the information era of the internet, with a little research anyone can start learning about all the incredible capabilities contained within CBD and our endocannabinoid system.