The Science Behind CBD
The Science Behind CBD
Have you ever been convinced to eat carrots because they are good for your eyes? We probably all have; but, do you know why carrots are good for your eyes? The answer is relatively simple: Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a crucial component of healthy vision and corneal health. Wouldn’t it be nice if the explanation as to why CBD works wonders in our bodies was that simple? Like many people, you may get a bit lost in the science-y aspects to how CBD can benefit you. We’re here to bring you an explanation without the headache!
The human body has a major regulatory system called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS for short). This system is responsible for many things including:
- our sleep cycle
- immune system function
- pain perception
- emotional balance
- bone and gut health
…to name a few. The ECS is made up of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors, among other proteins and enzymes that are communicating efficiently, or should be. This communication is responsible for regulating everything from:
- inflammatory response
- sugar processing
- memory function
- hormone balance
and much more.
Our ECS is comparable to a communication highway that has two main cannabinoid receptors: CB1 & CB2 receptors. These receptors are spread throughout both our central and peripheral nervous systems. Although our bodies produce their own cannabinoids (cannabinoids that the body produces are called endocannabinoids) that interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, it is fairly common that our endocannabinoid levels may fall short. When we have an imbalance or are not making enough endocannabinoids, it is helpful to supplement from a natural plant source like hemp. This is where cannabinoid therapy comes in.
Cannabinoid therapy is the addition of cannabinoids to a lifestyle to promote healing of the mind and body. When supplementing with cannabinoids such as CBD, the body receives a signal to produce more endocannabinoids. What does this mean? By supplementing with phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids from plants, like CBD) we can help our bodies achieve a more balanced state and we may need less over time because our bodies will start producing more of their own.
Now let’s figure out what CB1 and CB2 receptors are responsible for and which cannabinoids bind where!
CB1 and CB2 Interactions
What cannabinoids communicate or bind to which receptors? The cannabinoids Anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-ag), and THC primarily bind to CB1 receptors, which are found in abundance in the central nervous system. These reactions are associated with regulating heart rate and stress, as well as movement and inflammation. Cannabinoids that have an affinity for CB2 receptors, such as CBD, are found mostly in the peripheral nervous system and correlate to pain perception, immune support, GI function, skin and bone health, and many other functions mentioned above. CBD also communicates to the CB1 receptor indirectly as well as binds to the 51HTA receptor which is responsible for serotonin production (contributing to its anti-depressant effects). There are also cannabinoids like CBG, which are very high in anti-inflammatory properties, that primarily bind to CB2 receptors and communicate to CB1 receptors as well (we will learn about this more in later post).
The CB1 and CB2 receptors work together with cannabinoids, enzymes, and possible transporter molecules to activate or inhibit different functions, based on each body’s specific needs. For example, in the case of auto-immune disorders, CBD can suppress inflammation while upregulating healthy cell growth at the same time. Pretty neat, huh? But that’s not all.
Latest research shows us that there are many more receptors in the ECS, beyond CB1 and CB2. These additional receptors are binding and communication sites for various cannabinoids and carry out vital functions for many different organs and body systems we didn’t even mention. In an effort to not overwhelm, we will dive into those another day.
Supplying the body with cannabinoids is like getting enough fruits and veggies in your diet. Your body can survive without them, but are you really living your best life? With this new found knowledge on the science behind CBD, we can see how cannabinoid therapy has the potential to bring us from merely surviving to thriving.
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With this new found knowledge on the science behind CBD, we can see how cannabinoid therapy has the potential to bring us from merely surviving to thriving.
1. Shenglong Zou and Ujendra Kumar , “Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System”, www.mdpi.com, Int. J. Mol. Sci, March 2018.
2. Perry G. Fine, M.D.1,* and Mark J. Rosenfeld, M.S., Ph.D.2, “The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain”, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, Rambam Maimonides Med J, October 29, 2013.
3. Leinow, L., Birnbaum, J., (2017). CBD- A patient’s guide to medical Cannabis. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.