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Endocannabinoid System: CBD for pain, sleep, anxiety, migraines, arthritis

Endocannabinoid System

Human CBD receptors
Our own bodies produce cannabinoids. Like all cannabinoids, CBD interacts with your body through its native endocannabinoid system, or ECS. Present in all mammalian species, the ECS is a complex signaling network responsible for establishing and maintaining health by regulating many of the body’s natural functions, including:

  • Mood
  • Memory
  • Appetite
  • Pain
  • Immune response
  • Temperature

The ECS is made up of cannabinoid receptors and substances called endocannabinoids, which are synthesized by the body on demand. The cannabinoid receptors, found throughout the body, work like a lock and key to bind with endocannabinoids.

When the endocannabinoids bind or interact with these receptors, they alter the release of neurotransmitters to relay messages between nerve cells. The endocannabinoid system is constantly using endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors to make the necessary adjustments to keep our many functions in a general state of balance.

Plant-derived cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) like CBD, found in hemp and marijuana, perform many of the biological actions of the endocannabinoids that are synthesized by the body. Like endocannabinoids, CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors as the ECS works to keep your body and its functions in an optimum state. The effects of CBD oil are that it stimulates the ECS to reach it's optimum state.

CB1 & CB2 Receptors

The ECS consists of two main specialized receptors; CB1 & CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain and throughout the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are located mostly in the immune system, spleen, and their associated structures.

These two cannabinoid receptors respond differently to different cannabinoids. THC is an agonist of both CB1 and CB2 receptors, but has a higher affinity for CB1. This means it binds directly with the two receptors and activates them.

CBD on the other hand doesn’t bind directly to either CB1 or CB2 receptors. Instead, it acts indirectly against cannabinoid agonists. This means that CBD sits imperfectly inside the receptors, not activating them but effectively blocking THC and other chemical messengers from binding to those sites. The effect of CBD on the brain is to inhibit the psychotropic aspect of THC which in everyday terms means that it can attenuate a THC "high".

CBD also interacts with various other receptors throughout the body, such as 5-HT1A receptors, which are linked to serotonin & associated with anxiety & depression.