The healing effects of CBD and other cannabis-produced compounds have been plastered all over the internet and news. Each year more studies are conducted that examine these compounds and their effects on the human body. With the list of positive health benefits ever increasing, cannabis products are becoming more popular by the day.
However, as people learn about these “cannabinoid” compounds, questions tend to arise. For example, what are cannabinoids? Where do they come from? Does CBD cause the same psychoactive effects as its cousin THC? And how do these chemicals interact with the body at all?
It all boils down to the recently discovered endocannabinoid system and the way cannabinoids interact with it.
What Is the Endocannabinoid System?
Roughly 25 years ago researchers discovered a new regulatory system that runs throughout the body. They found it after studying the way the body interacts with the chemical compounds produced by cannabis plants. This system has receptors throughout the body and works to maintain homeostasis (balance) within the body.
Scientists have found two primary receptors within the endocannabinoid system, the CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor. CB1 receptors are the most prominent. They are largely found in areas of the brain and central nervous system such as the hippocampus, cerebellum and basal ganglia, to name a few. It also extends outwards, though, and CB1 receptors have been found in the liver, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, the skeletal system and in various muscles. CB2 receptors are less prevalent and are mostly found in peripheral body systems.
Both of these receptors work by interacting with endogenous cannabinoids. Endogenous cannabinoids are chemicals that our body naturally produces to promote balance within various systems. However, when scientists discovered the endocannabinoid system, they found that it also responds directly to external cannabinoids, such as those produced by cannabis plants. They named these external compounds, phytocannabinoids.
The endocannabinoid system as a whole is extremely important to our day-to-day life.
According to this 2018 article by S. Zou and U. Kumar on cannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoid system, “the endocannabinoid system [is] largely involved in various aspects of central neural activities and disorders, including appetite, learning and memory, anxiety, depression, stroke, and addiction. The CB1 [receptor] is also involved in physiological and pathological conditions in the PNS (peripheral nervous system) and peripheral tissues, including pain, energy metabolism, cardiovascular and reproductive functions, inflammation, glaucoma, cancer, and liver and musculoskeletal disorders.”
Copy and paste this link in your browser to take you to the study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5877694/.
As you can see, the endocannabinoid system is far-reaching and incredibly important to our daily health. So where do CBD and other cannabinoids come into play?
Phytocannabinoids and the Human Body
Scientists discovered the endocannabinoid system while studying the effects THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) has on the body. THC is the primary compound produced by marijuana plants and is responsible for the “high” feeling that many users experience.
However, as scientists continued to research cannabis plants and the chemicals they produce, they soon found that THC wasn’t alone. In fact, cannabis plants produce up to 100 different cannabinoids that all have various effects on the body. One of the most important discoveries they made while studying cannabinoids was the existence of CBD (cannabidiol).
The cannabis plant produces two primary strains – hemp and marijuana. While THC is produced in high concentrations by marijuana plants, CBD is found in the highest concentrations in hemp plants. Unlike its cousin THC, CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive properties. In fact, it has very few negative side effects at all. When CBD interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, it delivers a plethora of positive health benefits.
How Do Cannabinoids Help?
The endocannabinoid system is an extensive and important part of the human body and plays a part in regulating and maintaining balance in nearly every system. From mental health, to sleep disorders to chronic pain, the endocannabinoid system regulates the way our bodies respond to a wide range of internal and external stimuli. When ingested, CBD helps boost the receptors in the endocannabinoid system so it can work more efficiently. In short, CBD helps the endocannabinoid system do its job better.
When it interacts with the body, CBD can help sooth stress, anxiety and depression, reduce inflammation, regulate the body’s pain receptors, relieve joint and muscle pain, and promote a good night’s sleep. CBD does all of this without causing any negative psychoactive effects. In fact, CBD and other cannabinoids provide so many positive effects that some believe that our bodies have been specifically designed to interact with cannabis plants.
CBD and other cannabinoids can help with a wide range of ailments and health problems.
CBD has been shown to:
- Act as an antibacterial agent,
- Help those with mental illnesses,
- Promote healthy bones and muscles,
- Sooth chronic pain,
- Decrease inflammation,
- Help with nausea and vomiting, and
- Boost the immune system.
In addition to CBD, hemp plants also produce many other cannabinoids. While some scientists believe there are up to 100 other cannabinoids, there are three main compounds to be aware of. These cannabinoids are CBG, CBC and CBN.
Like CBD, each of these cannabinoids interact with receptors in the endocannabinoid system and all provide healing effects. For example, CBG is popular for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. CBC is known for its ability to reduce pain. CBN is well known for its sleep-aiding effects. None of these cannabinoids produce any psychoactive effects – making them perfect for those looking for specialized relief.
Where Can I Find CBD?
It’s nearly impossible to count the number of CBD products out there. They come in all shapes and sizes from vape additives, to tinctures, to lotions to gummies and brownies. Some are even designed to have high concentrations of other cannabinoids like CBG, CBC and CBN – so users can find relief for just about anything.
However, with so many options on the market, it is more important than ever to be aware of what you are buying.
CBD products are legal so long as they are derived from hemp plants and contain less than .03% THC. When buying CBD products, always be sure to ask the seller or grower for a lab report so you can make sure you are getting the real deal.
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