What is Cannabidiol (CBD),

and how does it work?

What is CBD?

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound (phytocannabinoid) found in the resinous flower of cannabis, a plant with a rich history as a medicine going back thousands of years. While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it can be derived directly from the hemp plant, a cousin of marijuana. One of hundreds of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, CBD does not cause a “high” or intoxicating effect. According to a report from the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

CBD has been touted and used for a variety of ailments and symptoms, with animal studies, and research and self-report in humans, suggesting CBD may have the potential to help:

  • Anxiety Studies and clinical trials are exploring the common report that CBD can reduce anxiety.
  • Insomnia. Studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
  • Chronic pain. One animal study from the European Journal of Pain suggests CBD could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis when applied to skin. Other research identifies how CBD may inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain, which are difficult treat.
  • Addiction. CBD can help lower cravings for tobacco and heroin under certain conditions, according to some research in humans. Animal models of addiction suggest it may also help lessen cravings for alcohol, cannabis, opiates, and stimulants.
  • Seizures – some of the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), In numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and, in some cases, stop them altogether. Epidiolex, which contains CBD, is the first cannabis-derived medicine approved by the FDA for these conditions

How Does CBD Work?

Understanding the effects of CBD, and how it works, involves examining the relationship between the receptors and endocannabinoids within the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

Within the ECS are two main types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily in the central nervous system and are responsible for governing coordination, movement, pain, appetite, memory, mood, and other functions. The CB2 receptors are in the peripheral nervous system, influencing etiologies such as pain, inflammation, and immune system function.

After the enzymes break down the cannabinoids, the endocannabinoids look to bind or interact with the receptors. Researchers believe that CBD does not directly attach itself to the receptor but exerts its influence in different manners, both directly and indirectly. Interaction with or around these receptors is what allows for many of the health benefits that people associate with the compound.

CBD can also influence non-cannabinoid receptors. For example, CBD may potentially modulate with certain serotonin receptors, which can be prudent in the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. It can also affect the TRPV1 receptor, which is responsible for pain and inflammation.

Keep Learning

With each individual supported by their endocannabinoid system, we know CBD and other cannabinoids act as a means to keep the ECS in balance and function at its prime. Understanding how and why the body harmoniously interacts with this system will help guide you to better sustainable health!

For further learning resources and information, explore the related links below: