As cannabidiol (CBD) continues to make a name for itself across demographics, the worlds of science and medicine collaborate to conduct research and learn more about its effects on the body. After leading to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, cannabis compounds, known as cannabinoids, are understood to interact with the body in many ways. Below, we dive a bit deeper into how the endocannabinoid system works in conjunction with CBD to bring changes in the human body.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system is a physiological signaling network that regulates health, well-being, and homeostasis. Endocannabinoids are naturally produced molecules, chemically similar to external cannabinoids such as CBD, synthesized to modulate moods, neuronal functions, inflammatory processes, and stress signals related to certain types of pain. The endocannabinoid system is comprised of receptors found in the brain, several organs, connective tissues, immune cells, and numerous glands. Endogenous cannabinoids bind and interact with these receptors to produce and control different effects and responses to stimuli.
What Are Endocannabinoid Receptors?
Endocannabinoid receptors are a group of specialized cells that detect changes in the environment and coordinate with neurotransmitters, or signals, to produce responsive impulses and changes regarding mood, appetite, memory, and pain sensations. The endocannabinoid system is comprised of two main receptor types: CB1, found mainly in the central nervous system and CB2, found primarily in peripheral tissue.
A high abundance of CB1 receptors exists in the hippocampus, cerebellum, and other cortical regions of the brain. When activated by cannabinoids, studies show that these specialized receptors appear to be responsible for affecting mood, memory, perception, and movement. The scarcity of CB1 receptors in the brain stem, medulla, and thalamus helps to explain the absence of life-threatening effects associated with extremely high doses of cannabinoids.
CB2 receptors exist predominantly in the immune system and peripheral tissue. When activated, these receptors appear to play a significant role in immune function and inflammation. There is also ample evidence to support that CB2 receptor activation reduces nociception, or the sensory nervous system’s intense response to pain and harmful stimuli.
How Does CBD Interact with the Endocannabinoid System?
CBD does not bind strongly or perfectly with the endocannabinoid receptors. Rather, studies reveal that it interacts indirectly and sits imperfectly in the receptor cells. CBD molecules don’t actually activate the endocannabinoid receptors, but they prevent other cannabinoids (endogenous or external) from binding to them. This process causes a unique balancing effect and results in the body’s overcompensation or under-compensation of different secretions depending on the receptors’ role and function.
CBD is also understood to mitigate an enzyme known as fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which is responsible for breaking down and degrading anandamide. Anandamide, also known as the “bliss molecule,” is an endocannabinoid associated with appetite, mood, pain management, and even fertility. By inhibiting FAAH, CBD helps to leave more endocannabinoids, like anandamide, in the bloodstream for the body to use.
Does CBD Influence Hormones?
CBD both stimulates and inhibits the production of different hormones based on its indirect binding with the endocannabinoid receptor cells. Studies report that CBD appears to interfere with the secretion of cortisol, which is the main hormone involved in stress response. When cortisol is produced in excess, it can lead to weight gain, anxiety, and mood swings. Mitigation of the production of cortisol can help regulate these hormonal effects and maintain homeostasis. Additionally, studies show that CBD interact with CB1 receptors in the pineal gland to stimulate the production of sleep hormones such as melatonin. This interaction helps monitor and regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
Everyone has a distinct chemical makeup that constantly fluctuates, and for this reason, CBD may have different effects on different people. As research continues to develop, we discover even more ways that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system and affects the body. If you’re looking to try CBD for the first time or looking for high-quality, full-spectrum CBD products for a variety of uses, check out Hemp Lyfe’s product line and enhance your life.
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