At least 14 percent of Americans report using CBD (short for cannabidiol) products.
Are you thinking about joining them? Are you confused about CBD science and how it works?
If so, keep reading. Explained below are some of the basics of the science behind CBD that everyone should know.
What Is CBD?
CBD is the second most prevalent active compound in the cannabis plant (the first is THC or tetrahydrocannabinol). Unlike THC, CBD does not have any mind-altering effects. In other words, it doesn’t cause you to feel high.
CBD may not cause a high, but it does provide plenty of positive health effects. The following are some of the most well-known benefits it can offer:
- Reduction in seizures (both frequency and severity)
- Reduction in chronic pain and inflammation
- Improved mood and reduced anxiety
- Improved sleep (both quality and quantity)
There is also some preliminary research showing that CBD may help with blood sugar balance and heart health.
CBD Science Basics
How does CBD work? How does it produce all of these effects?
Researchers are still exploring the specifics of how CBD works in the body. Here are some things they have found out so far, though:
The endocannabinoid system is one of the body’s most complex systems.
This system was first discovered in the 1990s, and researchers still have a lot to learn about it. What they do know, though, is that it helps to regulate a variety of bodily processes, including appetite, sleep, memory, and mood.
There are three components of the endocannabinoid system:
- Receptors: Receptors are present throughout the body; endocannabinoids bind to them
- Endocannabinoids: Endocannabinoids are molecules produced by the body; one of the most well-known endocannabinoids are known as anandamide
- Enzymes: Enzymes break down endocannabinoids
There are two types of endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors.
The CB1 receptors exist mainly in the central nervous system, comprised of the brain and spinal cord. The CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are present throughout the peripheral nervous system.
CB1 receptors play an important role in coordination, movement, appetite, pain management, mood, and memory. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, modulate pain and inflammation.
THC binds primarily to the CB1 receptors. CBD, on the other hand, does not appear to bind directly to the cannabinoid receptors. It still appears to activate them, though.
Some research suggests that CBD acts as a reuptake inhibitor for endocannabinoids like anandamide.
Because it slows down their reuptake and breakdown, CBD helps to raise levels of endocannabinoids in the brain. This may be why CBD has neuroprotective benefits and helps to reduce the severity and frequency of seizures.
CBD may also boost levels of adenosine in the brain by slowing down its reuptake. This regulates the activity of the adenosine receptors, which play an important role in proper cardiovascular function and blood flow. They also modulate inflammation throughout the body.
CBD affects other receptors in the body that aren’t directly part of the endocannabinoid system. For example, it binds to the serotonin receptors.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that balances mood and supports healthy memory and cognitive function. Because CBD can activate the serotonin receptors, specifically the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, it may improve mood and reduce anxiety in some people.
Cannabidiolic acid, the raw version of CBD, also has a strong affinity for 5-HT1A receptors. This may explain why some people see better results from full-spectrum CBD products than they do from those that contain CBD alone.
CBD also binds to the vanilloid receptors (also known as the TRPV1 receptors). These receptors help to reduce one’s pain perception. They can also minimize inflammation and help to control body temperature.
CBD’s pain-reducing effects likely have to do with the fact that it can bind to the vanilloid receptors. This especially makes sense when you consider the fact that other pain-relieving plant compounds, such as capsaicin, which is found in hot chili peppers, also bind to the same receptors.
Allosteric Receptor Modulation
CBD can also function as an allosteric receptor modulator. This means it can both enhance and inhibit the way a receptor transmits signals. It does this by changing the receptor’s shape.
CBD can act as a positive allosteric modulator of receptors for the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA brings about a calming effect and can help to improve sleep quality and quantity.
At the same time, CBD also acts as a negative allosteric modulator for the CB1 receptor. It changes the receptor’s shape and weakens THC’s ability to bind to it. This explains why cannabis products with high concentrations of THC can help to modulate THC’s mind-altering effects.
Tips for Using and Choosing CBD Products
CBD can be a very useful supplement to include in your routine. However, because it’s a relatively new product, there are many subpar and counterfeit options being sold worldwide.
If you’re thinking about using a CBD product, the following tips can help you choose a safe and effective one:
- Ask about sourcing: If possible, choose a CBD product that uses CBD sourced from organic plants; this helps to reduce pesticide exposure
- Look at ingredients: Avoid products made with potentially harmful ingredients like inflammatory oils, artificial sweeteners, and artificial colors
- Consider the dose: Make sure you know how much CBD the total product contains, as well as how much you’re getting with each serving or dose
The experts at Foria CBD also recommend asking about testing. Find out if the company you’re shopping with tests their products for purity and efficacy. If they don’t, that’s a major red flag.
Experience CBD Benefits Today
Now that you know the truth about CBD science, are you feeling more confident about giving it a try? Keep the information discussed above in mind so you can make an informed decision about your CBD products and choose ones that are right for you.
If you want more information on CBD, we have plenty of other articles available on our site. Check out the Lifestyle section today to continue learning.