Cannabis and its unique chemical compounds produced from this plant, called cannabinoids, are at the center of one of the most exciting (and unacknowledged) happenings and discoveries of modern science, especially in molecular biology, medical applications and genetics.

It is research on the effects of cannabis and CBD, as well as marijuana that has directly led to the discovery of a molecular signaling system in the human brain and body – the so-called endocannabinoid system or the endocannabinoid receptor system. This is the signaling system in the brain affecting how nerve cells communicate, and by which the endocannabinoids play an important role in regulating a wide range of physiological processes.

Some of those processes include breast milk secretion, containing an abundance of endocannabinoids, the development of the brain, muscles, and bones, as well as controlling the immune system and functions such as hunger, sleep, inflammation processes, stress, blood pressure, body temperature, glucose metabolism, bone density, bowel function, reproductive fertility, circadian rhythms, mood, and more.

Thanks to this discovery, we today know how CBD affects the human brain. We know more details about the way that CBD and Endocannabinoid System interact. Scientists also know the difference between the effects of CBD and THC on the human brain and behavior.

Human Endocannabinoid System

In 1964, Rafael Meshulam from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem identified delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana. The endocannabinoid system has been shown to have a homeostatic role in controlling metabolic functions such as energy storage and nutrient transport. It acts on peripheral tissues such as adipocytes (fat cells that store excess nutrients that the body has not used), hepatocytes (liver cells that perform several key functions to keep the body healthy), the gastrointestinal tract, skeletal and muscle system, and the endocrine system. Besides, it acts to balance the insulin sensitivity and plays a role in diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disorders and conditions.

The next step in researching the ES was to identify the receptor or the receptors to which THC and CBD bind in the human brain. This was important for understanding the effects of cannabinoids on human behavior and health.

To understand the ES, we must first know something about receptors. Receptors are small proteins embedded in the membranes of all cells, including neurons. When specific molecules bind to them, fitting into each other like puzzle pieces, changes in the cell occur. Some receptors have pores or channels filled with water that allow ions to flow into or out of cells. These types of receptors work on the principle of changing the relative voltage inside and outside the cell. Other receptors do not have such channels but are fused to specialized G proteins. They represent a large family that triggers several biochemical signaling cascades within the cell, often resulting in changes in ion channels.

Today, we know that there are different types of receptors in the endocannabinoid system. We call them CB1 and CB2. Let’s learn more about these receptors and the way that CBD and Endocannabinoid System interact.

How CBD Interacts with the Endocannabinoid System

Endocannabinoid SystemA study conducted in 1988 at the University of St. Lewis found that mammalian brains, including the human brain, have an abundance of receptor cells, specialized protein molecules embedded in cell membranes that respond pharmacologically to cannabis compounds, including CBD. Scientists first made research on THC and monitored where that compound in the rat brain went. They found it to bind to what will be called the cannabinoid receptor, better known as CB1.

Based on this finding and the work of other scientists, a major finding showed that THC had almost no effect when administered to the brain which lacks CB1. Namely, the compound had nothing to bind to and therefore could not initiate any activity.

In this article, we are more interested in CBD and its receptor, as well as the way CBD interacts with ES. Another cannabinoid receptor – CB2 – has been discovered, but it acts only outside the brain and spinal cord and is involved in the immune system. CBD binds to this particular receptor, the CB2.

Enzymes play the key part in the functioning of the receptors and substances. Namely, enzymes work by “swallowing” the substances, changing them and ejecting the residues. In the endocannabinoid system, enzymes break down the endocannabinoid residues. While THC binds directly to receptors, CBD does not work that way. CBD binds to the enzymes called FAAH (Fatty acid amide hydrolase), which is responsible for removing anandamide from circulation. CBD prevents this, so there are more anandamides in circulation. Anandamide, also called the “bliss molecule”, is responsible for the positive feelings and especially good mood, but it also regulates the feeling of satiety, relieves pain, regulates digestion, etc. This is why CBD is a mood booster, with no psychoactive effect. As a result, one of the most common uses of this cannabinoid is CBD for anxiety and pain.

In the next section, we will learn more about CBD and its positive effects on the human body.

CBD and its Encouraging Effects

There are many positive effects of CBD on human health and well-being, resulting from the fact that CBD is not a psychoactive substance with side effects. Namely, CBD affects our brain, nervous system and immunity. There is a strong correlation between CBD and sleep regulation. CBD products, such as CBD oil and CBD edibles can regulate body temperature, reduce the sensation of pain in the body and regulate appetite. Also, CBD regulates the schedule and balance of sleep and wakefulness and has an antidepressant effect as it improves the work of anandamide.

Besides, the best CBD products can improve movement balance, memory, boost motivation and reduce stress. CBD can even help block the spread of tumor cells, regulate bone density, and blood pressure. It also reduces allergic reactions, affects the regulation of psychological disorders, helps treat anxiety, and helps patients with multiple sclerosis, especially when it comes to pain.

Are There Any Health Concerns?

Before you decide to use CBD oil or any other CBD product, it is necessary to know that it may affect each person differently. Our organisms are different, which means that our regulatory system is also affected by the CBD in different ways.

It is extremely important to get your CBD products from certified and trusted manufacturers whose products have been tested in laboratories.

When it comes to poisoning caused by CBD, the only reported case of mass CBD poisoning so far occurred in 2018 in the US state of Utah when 52 residents reported symptoms of poisoning after taking an oil. It turned out that everyone was taking a product that had a synthetic CBD, not the natural one. Additionally, the manufacturer did not have the required certifications, nor did the product contain the proper composition.

Therefore, we can say that using CBD products is completely safe if you follow the instructions and buy your CBD products from a trusted source.

Will CBD Interact with Other Medications?

CBD can affect the medicines you use. Although research is contradictory and some findings show that the effect of one drug was diminished and the other shows that it was amplified, the impact does exist in some way. Other side effects may occur if you do not know how to dose CBD, but there is currently no relevant research to show concrete evidence of its negative effects.

Bottom Line

The endocannabinoid system is a system of receptors that are found everywhere in the human body. Some are stationed in the central nervous system, such as the receptor called CB1, which is related to THC, and others, such as CB2 are more commonly found in the immune system, the gastrointestinal tract, and the peripheral nervous system. The prevalence of endocannabinoids shows how important they are for everyday functions in the body. They affect the regulation of sleep, appetite, digestion, feeling of hunger, mood, immune function, fertility, and feeling of pleasure, pain, memory, and thermoregulation.

Endocannabinoids are chemical messengers that tell your body when to initiate and when to stop a certain process. They help maintain an optimal balance in the body, also known as homeostasis.

When the endocannabinoid system is disrupted for some reason, any of these functions can be destabilized. The disorder in the endocannabinoid system causes a wide range of health problems including fibromyalgia “chronic muscle and joint pain”, which comes with headache, indigestion, depression.

When the body does not produce enough endocannabinoids or is unable to regulate them properly, it is much more susceptible to diseases that affect all of the above. That is why the intake of cannabinoids creates good conditions in the body to fight the disease. CBD products work on the principle of helping you deal with the disease, pain, and other symptoms, but also cause of the disease yourself. Scientists are still discovering the details of how CBD and Endocannabinoid System interact.

CBD products are used for treating anxiety, stress-related insomnia, MS, memory issues, and a wide range of other health conditions.