What does CBD actually do? Well there are lots of perceived benefits associated with taking CBD from making you feel more relaxed, reducing anxiety, helping with pain and giving you a good night’s sleep. But, how is any of this possible? Well, that’s where the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) comes in - a system that scientists are still trying to get their head around, but what CBD and other cannabinoids interact with to deliver many of the potential therapeutic benefits. In this post, I will explain to you a little more about this bodily system that we were never taught about in school and why CBD has an effect on it.
The ECS is the biological system in humans that interacts with and processes all cannabinoids such as CBD. The ECS is one of the most important aspects of our body’s homeostatic system - this is the system responsible for self-regulating and maintaining equilibrium of our body to keep our internal environment stable and perfectly optimised. Examples of processes that this system influences is our body temperature, sleep, mood, memory and appetite. So when your body senses it's a little off balance, it will automatically trigger the ECS to self regulate and try to return your bodily functions to equilibrium so you are back on your a-game.
So what happens when the ECS system is triggered?
The endocannabinoid system is composed of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors that these endocannabinoids interact with, and enzymes. When the ECS is triggered, which happens in our body’s regardless of whether cannabinoids are introduced into the mix, your enzymes break down fat to produce your endocannabinoids that are then transmitted through your body and bind with your cannabinoid receptors.
There are two main types of cannabinoid receptors found in your nervous system that cannabinoids attach to and each are responsible for different things:
- CB1 receptors are the most common receptors in your central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and influences such things as memory, coordination, sleep and appetite
- CB2 receptors are in the peripheral nervous system, and so are most commonly found on cells connected to the digestive system and immune system and so influence inflammation and pain
As said, this process is always happening irrespective of having CBD hence the term endocannabinoids as endo means cannabinoids that originate in our bodies. When we take a hemp or cannabis product we are introducing external cannabinoids into the system, in the case of cannabis and hemp products these cannabinoids are called phyto-cannabinoids (phyto meaning plant) and there are over a hundred different types such as CBD, CBG and THC.
Most cannabinoids (endo and phyto) can attach to both types of receptors. However, CBD does not actually attach to either receptor, but rather modifies the receptors ability to bind to other cannabinoids. Meaning that CBD enhances the ability for cannabinoids (both endo and phyto) to attach to the receptors and deliver their associated benefits for such things as anxiety, stress, pain relief and depression.
It is important to note that we are all biologically different, no one human is the same and so how the CBD interacts with your body will be highly personal - CBD might help with anxiety for one person, and might be better for sleep with another. So we really suggest trying it out for yourself and seeing what is right for you.