How Does CBD Work? – Endocannabinoid System
Put, CBD works through stimuli that its chemical compounds generate in the cannabinoid transmitters of our body.
These stimuli, in turn, generate reactions that are reproduced as a message at the cellular level traveling through our system until they become responses that are evidenced in the effects that occur in the body.
How does CBD work?
To put it simply, the endocannabinoid system is an essential radiological system similar to the central nervous system. Although you do not believe it is vital to the functioning of our body.
This system is not limited to a specific organ or part of the body but works at the cellular level.
What is the endocannabinoid system?
This system consists of endocannabinoid neurons and cannabinoid receptors. From this point on, I will explain everything as best as possible as not all are experts in neuroscience.
You will see along your brain nerve cells called neurons linked to other cells in your body through neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are molecules called agonists that move from one neuron to another through the space between them in a process known medically as synapses.
In this way, agonist molecules connect neuronal receptors and cause chain reactions throughout your body. Several systems in our body function this way, but here we are going to talk about the endocannabinoid, which is composed of two central receptors:
- Cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1)
- Receiver cannabinoid 2 (CB2)
The CB1 receptors are found mainly in our brain, although some are arranged in our liver, lungs, and kidneys. On the other hand, receptors called CB2 are found throughout the body.
In this way, the endocannabinoid system is considered a structure that can only function if the pieces fit together. Think of this as parts of Lego, where the agonist molecules are the axes, and the holes in the other elements are the receptors.
I’m going to take this moment to tell you why CBD has such essential effects on our brains. You see, among other things, the endocannabinoid system has the most receptors in the brain, almost twice as many as any other type of neuronal receptor.
This means we are much more sensitive to stimuli through this system than any other.
Let’s sum it up a bit:
- The endocannabinoid system sends signals to your body, mainly your brain.
- Agonist molecules carry signals from one neuron to another.
- Cannabinoid receptors are mainly located in the brain
- Cannabinoid receptors two are located throughout your body
All right, you should already have a clear idea of what the endocannabinoid system is, so let’s answer the following fundamental question:
How does the endocannabinoid system work?
Let’s open this point as an analogy. Do you know how a gasoline engine works? First, the combustion system is activated when the pressure finds fuel, i.e., it is started by energy.
For our endocannabinoid system, fuel is, of course, cannabinoids. So the main difference concerning an engine is that our body produces cannabinoids (fuel) on its own, which we know as endocannabinoids.
However, we can also find them externally, such as in cannabis plants, for example. These external cannabinoids are called phytocannabinoids. It should be noted that phytocannabinoids are called this way (phytol, meaning plant) because they have only been obtained externally through cannabis plants.
But what makes cannabinoids so important?
As I told you before, the CB1 receptors are the most abundant in our brains. Furthermore, no other agonist molecule activates these receptors, only the cannabinoids.
For this to happen, the receptors must be activated by specific elements.
To make this clearer:
The receptors CB1 are activated by THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, which introduces additional information into the brain, making you high. On the other hand, CB2 receptors are activated by CBD, cannabidiol, which is not psychoactive and is associated with various other cannabis plants and pure CBD products.
This way, CBD is usually extracted from hemp plants, either through their leaves or seeds or synthetically separated from other elements of marijuana plants. Unfortunately, the last method is more expensive, illegal in most places, and not worth it.
As the effect of cannabinoids has to do with cellular relaxation, CBD provides a relaxing effect throughout the body. But beyond this, the endocannabinoid system is vital to our functioning. You may wonder why. Well, keep reading!
What does the endocannabinoid system do?
This system has only one central function, which is to maintain homeostasis. But what does this mean? Homeostasis is a state of equilibrium in our body that needs to function correctly.
Think of it as a routine checkup that our body does to stabilize all systems and ensure everything works. This means there must be a balance at all levels of everything within our body.
This balance goes from sugar levels and pH in our blood to regulating the amounts of minerals, fats, water, and even our body temperature. Homeostatic processes regulate all these elements.
Returning to your vehicle analogy, the endocannabinoid system is you doing that quarterly review you’re supposed to do to avoid failures.
In this way, if the vehicle is close to failure, the air does not feel excellent enough, the transmission is not making the changes at the proper speed, or the engine loses starting force, the person in charge of the review will tell you what changes should be made and –if approved- make them.
Likewise, the endocannabinoid system checks all of your body’s systems, evaluates whether any changes are needed, and sends signals to the brain to do so.
To put the analogy simply:
- Your body is equivalent to a vehicle
- The endocannabinoid system of the person who does the regular checkup
- The cannabinoids signal, “We need a change,” to keep the system running.
This is what makes the endocannabinoid system so essential to us. For example, this system tells your body to sweat to lower the temperature and stop avoiding dehydration.
This is possible due to the feedback capacity of cannabinoid agonist molecules, which is unusual since most agonist cells can only travel in one direction. Also, we should note that these only affect our body through the mouth and skin, like phytocannabinoids.
On the other hand, our body produces cannabinoids to interact with this system. This way, phytocannabinoids come into play when not enough endocannabinoids are generated.
And this is why it has been discovered that cannabidiol (CBD) can treat so many different illnesses. This is possible because the receptors of CBD are spread throughout our body and are responsible for the proper functioning of so many processes within it.
Put, CBD activates an out-of-schedule checkup on your body. Being something so important, it’s expected that you’re wondering how we didn’t hear about this before. The answer is quite simple.
No proper attention was given to this before
The fact is that although there are studies on this compound dating back hundreds of years, it was not until 1995 that it was discovered how it works. So the history of the most recent studies on CBD comes more or less like this:
In the early ’40s
CBD was isolated for the first time, but it was not synthesized until 1963 when an Israeli scientific team led by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam devoted a few years to researching the cannabis plant.
By the way, this same team of professionals managed to isolate the THC the following year. His conclusion about the existence and potential of the plant can be summarized in this quote:
“Using a plant that has been around for thousands of years, we discovered a new physiological system of immense importance.”
Later in 1988
It was first identified the existence of the CB1, seen in research done on lab rats.
In the ’90s
CB1 was successfully cloned in humans, and in 1992 the scientific community discovered anandamide, the first endocannabinoid in the human brain.
Furthermore, research continued primarily in the United States, where CB2 was first discovered in 1993 and successfully cloned in humans during the same year. Later in 1995, we could isolate and discover 2-AG (2-araquidonoyl glycerol), the second endocannabinoid produced by our body.
From morality to science
The reality is that the endocannabinoid system was discovered by pure irony. Yet, in 1982 a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) was carried out to demonstrate a connection between cannabis use and addiction.
This study sought to overturn the belief that marijuana use does not generate addiction. Which, by the way, is true. Although THC works as a psychoactive, not even its worst effects are maintained in the long term.
However, this study showed a neuronal connection based on elements other than THC, which can treat many health issues beyond not connecting with addiction problems.
In a way, we must thank the anti-hippie efforts of the U.S. government for the discovery of one of the most critical systems of our body. This is incredible considering that since ancient times such as the old Chinese empire, it has been known that people consumed plants of the Cannabis family to treat ailments.
The discovery of the endocannabinoid system demonstrates that nature is incredible. We, as living beings, are connected far beyond what we think with other forms of life around us –in this case, with plants like the cannabis family.
In this regard, our endocannabinoid system is integral to our body balance and constantly works to keep our health at its best. The discovery of this system is impressive; now, you get to know more about it and improve your life by stimulating it.
Stay tuned to know how to use CBD and Where to buy it!