How Does CBD Work?
“How does CBD work?”
It’s no surprise that it does work — just look at some of the research. But many people want to know “how,” and the real reason might surprise you.
In this article, you’ll discover how CBD actually works with your body and not against it (like some synthetically made medications).
First off, you should know the basics of what CBD is. We cover this in our “What is CBD?” article, but as a refresher, you should know what a cannabinoid is…
What is a Cannabinoid?
Simply put, cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant. There are dozens of compounds including Cannabidiol (CBD), THC, and a host of other cannabinoids. Together they are responsible for the benefits and drawbacks to medical marijuana and industrial hemp-based products.
Technically, CBD and its sister cannabinoid compounds are classified as phytocannabinoids, which means that they’re derived from plants. But there are also several other types of cannabinoids you should know about too.
For example, the cannabinoids produced within the body’s endocannabinoid system are known as endocannabinoids (such as arachidonoylethanolamine, virodhamine, and many others). There are also cannabinoids manufactured via chemical reactions in laboratories, known as synthetic cannabinoids.
As you’ll see later, each type of cannabinoid interacts with the body in different ways. So now that you understand what a cannabinoid is, how does CBD work with your body?
Our Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System
Here’s the second half of the equation. You see, your body actually has areas that are made specifically for cannabinoids — they are called cannabinoid receptor sites.
These sites make up the endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for numerous physiological and mental processes that occur naturally within the body, such as appetite, pain sensation, mood, memory, and more.
As we just stated, the endocannabinoid system includes a number of specialized cell receptors in the brain and in various other organs throughout the body.
These receptors fall into two types: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found mainly in the brain (but also in the liver, kidneys, and lungs), while CB2 receptors are found mainly in the immune system.
Here’s the fun part — cannabinoid substances actually bind with these receptors to coordinate various functions across the body.
What Kinds of Effects Can Cannabinoids Have on the Body?
As we discussed above, there are several types of cannabinoids. Even within phytocannabinoids, there are wide ranges of compounds and effects that we are still learning about.
Some of these cannabinoids interact strongly with one or both CB receptors, causing various effects, from regulating mood and helping us concentrate, to causing euphoric effects and feeling “high” (like THC). Other cannabinoids, like CBD, have fewer direct effects on the endocannabinoid system (keep this in mind as you read the next section).
To recap: Cannabinoids represent a diverse class of chemical compounds that can be very different from each other. Their only common feature is that they all act on the body’s cannabinoid receptors, either directly or indirectly.
External vs. Internal Cannabinoids
The endocannabinoid system works mainly with our the body’s own cannabinoids, which are produced internally. For example, arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) is produced within the body and is thought to regulate several functions, including eating and sleep patterns and pain relief.
However, when cannabinoids are taken externally, it’s difficult to distinguish between the clinically desirable effects and the therapeutically undesirable effects of various phytocannabinoids. This is because cannabinoid receptors send a variety of signals that often interconnect to coordinate the body’s functions, so it’s hard to tell them apart.
For example, CB1 receptors send signals that simultaneously regulate pain and reduce inflammation, while cannabinoids that interact with CB2 receptors can at the same time affect gastrointestinal inflammatory response and peripheral nervous system sensitivity.
See why external cannabinoids (like CBD) can be a little more complicated?
Also, since people often take numerous different cannabinoids together (for example, using medical marijuana), it is hard to attribute specific effects to specific cannabinoids. That’s because unprocessed cannabis includes more than 60 different types of cannabinoids, including CBD and THC.
In addition, some cannabinoids interact synergistically, producing unique effects that are not found when using them individually. For example, CBD inhibits THC’s psychotropic effects when the two are taken together. However, CBD does this (and produces many other effects) without directly interacting with the cannabinoid receptors. At first, scientists thought there was a third type of CB receptor just for Cannabidiol, but the answer was far more interesting and revealing.
How Does CBD Work?
We just stated that CBD is fairly unique as far as cannabinoids go, because it does not seem to interact directly with either the CB1 or CB2 receptors. So what does it do if it’s not interacting directly with our receptors?
Here’s where it gets good…
Cannabidiol has a particularly low potential for binding with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but instead acts as an antagonist of the receptors’ agonists. That’s a mouthful.
In layman’s terms, this means that CBD keeps the receptors working at optimal capacity and helps the function of all other cannabinoids, including the body’s own endocannabinoids.
Still with me? If you want to know more about the effects, read below, but if you’re often put off by scientific words, you might want to skip down to the conclusion…
What Effects Does CBD Have?
Now to understand CBD’s function within the body, we need to examine how receptors like CB1 and CB2 interact with other chemical compounds. But first you’ll need to know these three terms…
Agonists – chemicals that bind to a receptor and activate it to produce a biological response.
Inverse agonists – chemicals that bind to the same receptor as agonists but produce the exact opposite result.
Antagonists – the complete opposite of agonists as they inhibit or dampen the functions of a receptor.
The indirect interactions of CBD with the endocannabinoid system has many effects, some of which surprised scientists and are still being researched. Some of CBD’s functions include:
Effectively increases CB1 density, amplifying the effects of all cannabinoids that bind to CB1 receptors.
Acts as a 5-HT1a receptor agonist in the brain, a property that is largely responsible for CBD’s antidepressant, anxiolytic, and neuroprotective effects. This means that CBD has the same effects as some potent analgesics, but without the side effects.
Acts as inverse agonist of CB2 receptors, effectively reducing the effects of cannabinoids that make CB2 receptors less responsive.
Acts as an antagonist for the putative GPR55 receptor, an element of the endocannabinoid system that is still being researched. (It is suggested that GPR55 may be a third type of cannabinoid receptor altogether.)
Various modulating pharmacological effects such as modulating the function of delta opioid receptors, helping with pain, and controlling seizures.
Between the above functions, most of CBD’s observed effects are explained medically and pharmacologically. However, scientists are still unclear about how some of Cannabidiol’s effects are actually occurring. The most possible explanation is via the hypothetical GPR55 receptor, or through more indirect and synergistic effects that still await discovery.
Contrary to how most cannabinoids function, CBD interacts very mildly with the cannabinoid receptors themselves and instead either helps other cannabinoids to be better absorbed or stops the effects of whatever makes the receptors work less effectively.
The indirect nature of CBD’s effects have made it difficult for scientists to pinpoint its exact effects up to now, but many positive effects of this unusual phytocannabinoid are still being studied, with new discoveries going live on medical journals every few months.
The endocannabinoid system is closely interconnected with the nervous and immune system. Since CBD has been shown to boost just about every function of our cannabinoid receptors, it may be proven to have far-reaching positive effects and could potentially be used to treat numerous neurological or immune diseases.
Hemp vs Marijuana: What’s the Difference?
You may have heard some people say that marijuana and hemp are exactly the same, while others swear they are different. The debate of hemp vs marijuana is fueled by the confusion and misinformation that surround the cannabis plant.
In this article, we will dispel several myths and shed light on the differences between industrial hemp and marijuana. To help us answer the question in our article’s title, we will need to peek into botany, genetics, linguistics, and even law, as this is a tangled subject.
So, let’s begin…
As you may know, industrial hemp and marijuana come from the same genus of flowering plant– cannabis. The term “genus” essentially refers to a sub-family of plants and not a single species. This means that there may be multiple types of the cannabis plant, which are all cannabis but have remarkable differences. So, in terms of scientific classification, multiple species can exist within a single genus, and that’s exactly the case with cannabis.
The Different Growing Varieties of Cannabis
The genus of cannabis is thought to include three distinct species of the cannabis plant, namely Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.
Cannabis sativa is the most common strain of cannabis. It has been cultivated throughout history for a number of purposes, including the production of seed oil, food, hemp fiber (for clothes and rope), medicine, and even recreation.
Cannabis ruderalis is a species native to Russia that flowers earlier and is able to withstand harsher conditions than Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. It is the hardiest of the three, but it is relatively poor in terms of cannabinoids as ruderalis has a lower THC content than either sativa or indica.
Cannabis indica was first discovered in India and is a cannabis species that is described as shorter and bushier than sativa. Problems with botanical taxonomy have led some scientists to still doubt the existence of Cannabis indica as a distinct species of cannabis.
In nature, Cannabis ruderalis typically has the lowest levels of THC, Cannabis sativa has a higher level of THC than it has CBD, and Cannabis indica has a higher level of CBD than it has THC. However, since man has been cultivating cannabis (and especially Cannabis sativa) for thousands of years, the effects of artificial selections have led to several different types of cannabis even within the same species, depending on the purpose the cannabis was cultivated for.
The Power of Artificial Selection
Cannabis has been cultivated by humans, for a variety of purposes, since antiquity. So it comes as no surprise that there are several different species and even different varieties within the species, depending on the purpose the plants were bred for. Through artificial selection, different species of cannabis have different properties–some have been used for medicinal purposes, others as food, and others to create clothes, ropes, and other items.
Industrial hemp is produced by strains of Cannabis sativa that have been cultivated to produce minimal levels of THC and are instead artificially selected and bred to grow taller and sturdier. This is done to enable the plant to be used effectively in the production of hemp oil, wax, resin, hemp seed food, animal feed, fuel, cloth, rope, and more. Industrial hemp is exclusively made from Cannabis sativa.
Medical marijuana is produced mainly from variants of Cannabis sativa that have been selectively bred to maximize their concentration in cannabinoids. Cannabis ruderalis is almost exclusively grown for medicinal purposes, as it naturally has very small quantities of THC .
Hemp vs Marijuana: So What’s Really the Difference?
The major (and arguably the only) difference between industrial hemp and medical marijuana is that industrial hemp is exclusively made from Cannabis sativa that was specifically bred to produce the lowest concentrations of THC possible.
Hemp-producing cannabis has tall, fibrous stalks that are very strong and have very few flowering buds. On the on the other hand, marijuana strains are short, bushy, and have high amounts of THC. In fact, industrial hemp and medical marijuana are so distinctively different that most laypeople wouldn’t be able to tell that they belong to the same genus of plants if they encountered them in the wild!
While marijuana is bred with the only purpose of maximizing its THC concentration, industrial hemp always has trace amounts of THC and naturally occurring high amounts of CBD (it has the highest CBD/THC ratio of all cannabis strains, even Cannabis ruderalis) This means that industrial hemp’s chemical profile makes it incapable of inducing intoxicating effects and getting you “high” from ingesting it.
Industrial Hemp Dietary Supplements
Since industrial hemp is naturally rich in CBD and has been bred to have only trace amounts of THC, many people today are turning to industrial hemp products as an alternative to medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is not legal in all states in the US and many countries worldwide, while products made from industrial hemp can be a safe and legal alternative. You can get many of the same beneficial effects of medical marijuana from industrial hemp products without getting “high.”
Industrial hemp products are completely safe, as they are made according to federal standards and are produced in FDA-registered facilities within the US. If you are interested in seeing more, please check out our line of premium industrial hemp products.
What’s the Difference Between CBD Oil from Medical Marijuana and CBD Oil from Industrial Hemp Oil?
Most of our readers know you can get Cannabidiol (CBD) products made from industrial hemp. Many of you also know that you can get CBD products from medical marijuana.
So what’s the difference? Yes, medical marijuana can contain any level of THC whereas CBD products from industrial hemp contain negligible amounts. But what about the CBD?
Is the CBD from industrial hemp the same as the CBD from medical marijuana? In this article we’ll explore what we know about these substances.
Cannabidiol is Still Cannabidiol
Here’s the main concept to understand. In regards to its chemical composition, which is precisely known to scientists, CBD remains unchanged regardless of which plant produces it.
To further expand on this, the term “Cananbidiol” refers by definition to this chemical substance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabidiol
There is no room for different interpretations and the substance is just that. Any single difference in the molecular composition would mean it’s no longer Cannabidiol but another substance (again, by definition). This is pure chemistry and allows no room for ambiguity.
However, the main question people have is not just about the CBD compound, which is constant from plant to plant, but the actual difference in CBD oil from various plants.
What Goes into Cannabidiol Oil?
We’ve established the fact that naturally occurring CBD is the same CBD regardless of the plant it came from. However, CBD and CBD oil are not in fact the same thing. As we’ve seen above, CBD is a chemical compound with sharply defined characteristics, while CBD oil is a mixture of various natural substances as they are derived from the plant of cannabis.
The production of hemp oil involves extracting the fatty acids from the stalks of the cannabis plant. Within these fatty acids fat-soluble substances can be found, and as cannabinoids are fat-soluble, they come out of the plant, dissolved in the oil.
To make this more concrete, let’s use an example here. This is a high-CBD hemp oil product made from industrial hemp. It has a concentration of CBD between 18% and 24%. This means that it has 18%–24% parts CBD dissolved in the actual oil, which is composed by other substances. So 18%–24% is pure CBD, and the rest are hemp oil extracts and other fatty acid substances.
Medical Marijuana vs. Industrial Hemp CBD Oil
The main point we want to make here is that CBD is always CBD, but CBD oil from hemp is not the same as the oil that is extracted from medical marijuana.
The main difference between the two remains that CBD oil from medical marijuana can contain any varying amount of THC. As a result, this type of CBD oil is considered a Schedule I drug and is not legal in many states in the US and countries worldwide.
As industrial hemp is naturally high in CBD and contains only traces of THC, the hemp oil produced from it is safe and non-psychotropic. This CBD oil is actually a lot different than the oil produced by extracting the fatty acids of the cannabis plants that are bred for medicinal purposes.
Besides the difference in THC concentration, the CBD oils will also have differing amounts of other cannabinoids. But those make up a much smaller percentage of the overall volume and are not as pronounced in their effects as CBD or THC are.
So, if you are looking for a safe and legal CBD oil product, CBD oil produced from industrial hemp is a great choice, because it’s naturally rich in CBD and has almost no THC.