Most people have now heard of CBD and they also have a pretty good idea of where it comes from. But one thing we do still get asked fairly regularly is ‘How does CBD work in the body?’. Okay, if you want the non-techy jargon here’s our simple ‘No-nonsense’ analogy that we have put together.
All our bodies have natural ‘Protective Agents’ inside which help us grow, heal, eat, sleep, relax in fact do pretty much everything we do on a daily basis. You can call them ‘cells, ‘receptors’, ‘cannabinoids’ – we’ll stick with ‘Agents’ for now (a bit like James Bond 007!).
When we are suffering in any way, be it physically or mentally, these Agents work to help us heal, recover and build resistance against whatever is causing us to suffer (aches, pains, stress, depression, skin conditions etc.).
Now seeing as everybody is different the Agents will work differently inside individual bodies. Yeah, we all know that someone who never gets ill and never complains of any pains right? Well, their Agents are just working a whole lot better than yours. How effectively these Agents work also changes with time i.e. as we grow older the chances are our Agents are less effective.
When someone takes THC (the cannabis component that gets you high) this simply acts as a temporary blocking/numbing solution. So the pain you were feeling becomes more bearable and the anxiety you were feeling is temporarily forgotten. But… as the THC wears off it all comes back!
What CBD does on the other hand is it helps build up the Agents’ effectiveness. So instead of just temporarily blocking or numbing the pain/feeling they are actually learning to prevent it occurring in the first place. So any pain, condition or mental imbalance is controlled long term.
Here’s a line one of our suppliers came up with that we love:
“If you have a habit of sticking your finger in the fire THC will help numb the pain. However, CBD will stop you wanting to stick your finger in the fire in the first place!”
There you have it; our no-nonsense analogy. For those who prefer a more technical description keep reading. The rest of you go visit our shop and see what we have on offer!
THE TECHNICAL EXPLANATION
CBD or cannabidiol is the main active compound in hemp and is not psychoactive, so it doesn’t make you high. THC is the component that gets you high and this is not contained in our CBD products.
Inside the human body there is the endocannabinoid system, with receptors spread throughout the brain and body. THC activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors, while CBD does not directly stimulate these receptors.
The CB1 and CB2 receptors
Cannabinoid receptors are involved in a series of processes inside the human body, including the regulation of mood, pain sensation, appetite and memory.
These receptors can be activated by endocannabinoids (produced by the human body) as well as by plant cannabinoids (like those found in hemp or cannabis), and they’re grouped into two main categories: CB1 and CB2.
CB1 receptors are found mostly in the central nervous system, and in smaller numbers in the liver, kidneys and lungs, while CB2 receptors are part of the immune system and found in the hematopoietic blood cells as well. CB1 play a role in the production and release of neurotransmitters, cannabis products that exert psychoactive effects stimulating these receptors.
At the same time, CB1 receptors are involved in the lipogenesis process that takes place inside the liver, and seem to play a role in the maintenance of homeostasis (body’s internal equilibrium). Various studies suggest that CB1 also influence pleasure, concentration and appetite, memory and pain tolerance.
CB2 receptors on the other hand affect the immune system, being involved in a variety of functions like immune suppression or apoptosis (programmed cell death). Studies suggest that CB2 modulate the pain sensation and could play a role in various diseases, from liver and kidney problems to neurodegenerative diseases.
How does CBD work and what are CBD effects inside the body?
CBD does not stimulate these two receptors; instead, it activates other receptors, like the vanilloid, adenosine and serotonin receptors. By activating the TRPV-1 receptor for example, cannabidiol plays a role in the mediation of body temperature, pain perception and inflammation.
Then, CBD inhibits the FAAH enzyme, a compound that activates the CB1 receptor. By doing so, CBD minimizes the activation of CB1 by THC, reducing its psychoactive effects.
The activation of adenosine receptors by CBD gives the anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol. Adenosine receptors are also involved in the release of dopamine and glutamate, two neurotransmitters that play major roles inside the body. Dopamine is involved in cognition, motor control, motivation and reward mechanisms, while glutamate is one of the major mediators of excitatory signals, being involved in memory, learning and cognition.
High concentrations of CBD have been shown to activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, exerting anti-depressant effects. The same receptor is involved in a series of processes from pain perception, appetite, nausea and anxiety to sleep and addiction mechanisms.
Finally, CBD blocks CPR55 signalling, decreasing bone re-absorption and cancer cell proliferation. GPR55 is widely present inside the brain, being linked with the modulation of bone density and blood pressure, as well as with cancer cell proliferation.
As previously said, CBD blocks the psychoactive action of THC, this being one of the reasons it’s generally considered advantageous to combine CBD and THC when for treatment purposes.
However, the positive effects of cannabidiol are not dependent on the presence of THC, so you can still take advantage of the health benefits of CBD by purchasing products that contain only non-psychoactive CBD.