Explaining How CBD Works
We’ve written before about how CBD works but it’s time to clarify a couple of specific points. Because research continues into CBD’s effectiveness, we learn more about the compound as time goes by.
One major change in opinion on CBD is whether it binds to cannabinoid receptors or not. While it was once believed that THC binds to CB1 and CBD binds to CB2, there are now different opinions on this. It appears CBD may produce its effects in a totally different way.
While this news doesn’t affect CBD’s place as a part of the ECS, it does change our understanding of how CBD works. This post will correct, update, and clarify any older posts we’ve made on this topic and provide links for you to do your own continued research on the subject.
Explaining How CBD Works: A Brief Overview of The ECS And Cannabinoid Receptors
The term ECS or Endocannabinoid System refers to a system in your body. This is similar to other systems like the cardiovascular or central nervous system.
The ‘system’ itself contains organic compounds your body makes called endocannabinoids. It also contains some receptors on cells in your body which can accept or bind with these endocannabinoids. Finally, some fatty acids and enzymes interact with endocannabinoids, which makes them a part of the system as well.
We have said before that endocannabinoids are exactly like the cannabinoids in cannabis, but this isn’t exactly true. Some cannabinoids are very similar to endocannabinoids. Others, however, are only similar enough to bind to ECS receptors (like THC and Anandamide). Still others may not bind to receptors at all, but influence the behavior of the fatty acids and/or enzymes in the ECS.
Explaining How CBD Works: THC and Anandamide
Anandamide is a neurotransmitter known as the bliss molecule because it promotes happiness and even a feeling of intoxication. Your body makes this substance all on its own. It binds with your CB1 receptors and science believes it does a lot more than just make you feel happy.
There are almost too many roles to list!
Anandamide is linked to:
- cognitive processes,
- motor coordination,
- hormones; and
- cancer cell growth.
When you smoke weed, THC enters your body. The THC is close enough to Anandamide to bind to the same CB1 receptors. This produces the effects we associate with feeling high and triggers all of the above benefits.
That’s right, CBD isn’t the only medicinal part of cannabis!
Explaining How CBD Works: CBD And FAAH
Speaking of CBD, it doesn’t really bind with CB1 or CB2 receptors. People used to believe that it did bind to CB2, but the current school of thought rejects this concept. Instead, CBD alters the degradation of Anandamide.
According to Project CBD:
Although CBD has little binding affinity for either of the two cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), cannabidiol modulates several non-cannabinoid receptors and ion channels. CBD also acts through various receptor-independent pathways—for example, by delaying the “reuptake” of endogenous neurotransmitters (such as anandamide and adenosine) and by enhancing or inhibiting the binding action of certain G-protein coupled receptors.
Additionally, FAAH, a fatty acid that breaks down Anandamide, is slowed by CBD.
There are several other ways CBD works including activating the 5-HT1A (hydroxytryptamine) serotonin receptor. More serotonin improves mood and decreases anxiety.
Another way CBD works is by interacting with ion channels. These channels are membranes that allow ions to pass through them. For instance, CBD binds to TRPV1 receptors and that mediates pain perception, inflammation and even body temperature.
So Much More To Learn
As a community, it’s important to stay on top of the most current research into CBD and THC. When new information surfaces we’ll be here to inform you.