Cannabis sativa or hemp has been used for generations by people all over the world for both recreational and psychoactive uses. There are 3 type of biomolecules that are present in cannabis, those three are terpenoids, flavonoids and over 60 types of cannabinoids. Within the cannabis plant there are chemicals called phyto-cannabinoids, these chemicals are responsible for binding and activating nervous receptors within the body. The most abundant phyto-cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is part of the cannabis plant that causes a “high” when smoked or ingested whereas CBD is non psycho-active and does not cause a “high”. Over the years CBD has been identified for its analgesics and anti-inflammatory properties.
CBD works by switching on our internal regulatory system known as the Endocannabinoid System, or ECS. ECS is one of the body’s largest neurotransmitter networks consisting of naturally-produced cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors known to regulate many physiological and cognitive processes like pain, mood, sleep, sensation and even memory. CBD interacts with various receptors to produce these therapeutic effects. These receptors are comprised of CB1 and CB2 receptors as well as serotonin, vanilloid, GPR55 and adenosine.
ECS is ALWAYS working to achieve balance, or homeostasis, which means maintaining a stable internal environment despite changes in the external environment. It is a crucial system to keep healthy!
In the simplest form, the ECS’s communications are comprised of messengers and receptors. The brain naturally produces endocannabinoid molecules (such as anandamide and 2 arachidonoylglycerol) and these act as messengers that can be found in your brain, organs, connective tissue, glands and immune cells.
Endocannabinoids such as anandamide for example can act as the body’s natural form of THC, just with a much shorter effect than actual THC has. There are also many plant cannabinoids that are found in cannabis (THC and CBD being the two largest), and synthetic cannabinoids, which are lab-created and can be up to 600 times more powerful than THC.
These cannabinoids look for and activate cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) and when they get together they produce therapeutic benefits by telling your body to feel a certain way or to do specific things. In addition, they regulate and affect the way other bodily systems will function such as your immune, nervous and gastrointestinal system.
Just think of it all as a balancing system where ECS sends neurotransmitters to your bodily parts to make sure everything is working correctly and confirm if anything needs to be rebalanced. When these neurotransmitters find a problem it automatically regulates it by sending a signal to receptors that adjust how you feel.
What does it monitor?
- Fertility, pregnancy, and reproductive systems
- Appetite, hunger, and digestive systems
- Motor control
- Pain and pleasure
- Immune function
CB1 and CB2
Cannabinoid Receptor 1(CB1) is mainly located in the brain and nervous system, as well as in the lungs, liver and kidneys. Our natural endocannabinoids and THC cannabinoids from cannabis bind with CB1 because of their similar structures, this is where patients feel relief from ailments such as pain, nausea or depression.
Cannabinoid Receptor 2(CB2) is found in the immune system, mostly in the spleen and gastrointestinal system. These receptors bind best with the endocannabinoid 2-AG and CBD. They are responsible for regulation of appetite, inflammation, pain management, etc.
How Cannabinoid Receptors Work
When a person consumes CBD, the CBD floods your body searching for receptors. Once they find one that fits, the effects of the cannabinoid and function as well as location of the receptor click together. This causes the receptors to send messages to the rest of the body.
So, if you take a dose of CBD oil, it will bind with the CB2 receptors in your body inhibiting your appetite. Conversely, if you take THC this can cause an increase in appetite because it binds more readily with the CB1 receptor, aka, the munchies.
The ECS is unique in that it communicates “backwards”, this type of cell-to-cell communication inhibits immune response, reduces inflammation, lowers blood pressure and even normalizes stimulated nerves. Our natural endocannabinoids basically “check” to make sure not too much is happening in the body before accepting any more stimulation or creating more messages. This way your body never gets flooded with unnecessary stimulation.
This is why ECS is so critical to proper functioning and health. If ECS is out of sync or irregular it can contribute to a wide variety of conditions that can prevent the body from achieving balance. CBD allows the body to naturally regulate these conditions making it a safe and widely used alternative to many modern day medicines.