Anti-pain, anti-nausea, helps relaxation and sleep… The effects of CBD on the body are no longer to be proven today. But while many are familiar with CBD and all the uses that can be made of it, how many actually know how it works? Science itself does not yet know the final answer to this question since the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, where CBD works, only dates back to the 1990s. However, today it is possible to give the beginnings of an explanation .
What is the endocannabinoid system?
Discovered during studies on the compounds of Cannabis Sativa, the endocannabinoid system (also called SEC) is a set of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids naturally produced by the body such as anandamide or 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) for example .
This system has a fundamental role in the human body (and in animals) since it aims to promote homeostasis, that is to say internal balance. In other words, the SEC will regulate the functions essential to the human body: body temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, pH ...
Endocannabinoid receptors are found on the surface of cells all over the body. Thus, depending on the type of receptor and their location, they may have an effective effect on mood (anxiety, stress, depression, etc.), appetite, the immune system, etc.
However, studies show two main types of receptors:
- CB1 receptors: located in the brain, lungs, etc., they can play a role in anxiety reduction, blood pressure management or fear.
- CB2 receptors: they are also found everywhere in the body, and can have an impact on certain addictions, appetite, pain, etc.
Yet despite many studies like this one, the endocannabinoid system still has some surprises in store for scientists because it is complex and can interact with other systems in the human body.
Thanks to their molecular similarity, phytocannabinoids like CBD and THC (therefore from plants) can act on SEC receptors like endocannabinoids. However, unlike THC which can bind directly to these receptors (only CB1), cannabidiol (CBD) stimulates the CB1 and CB2 receptors without a real link. This stimulation will then modify the function of the cells containing the receptors temporarily, which will bring about all the felt effects that we know.
In addition to this, CBD will also have an impact on the production of certain enzymes like FAAH which helps destroy endocannabinoids like anandamide. By reducing FAAH, CBD allows the body to store more anandamide which has a major role in the fight against anxiety and in calming down, for example.
The action of CBD is not limited to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system: it can, for example, bind to the TRPV1 receptors which manage the regulation of the body temperature, the management of pain and inflammation.
In other words, cannabidiol may not have a direct effect on the endocannabinoid system since it does not bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. But it still has an indirect effect by stimulating CB1 and CB2, limiting the destruction of endocannabinoids and binding with other receptors to impact certain bodily functions.