Cannabinoid Receptors Response to Smoking CBD Flower
You’ve heard about the healing properties of CBD like relief of pain, inflammation, anxiety and depression, even acne. CBD has also been linked with benefits to heart, circulatory and neurological health. And it’s been touted to ease cancer-related symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and pain too. But in order to fully appreciate the many benefits that CBD has to offer, it may help to understand its effects on your body. With this in mind, we’ll take a look at the basics of how your cannabinoid receptors respond to CBD.
What are Cannabinoid Receptors?
First of all, your cells have receptors in their membranes which create a “lock and key” relationship between various chemical compounds. This relationship can activate or inhibit other effects within your body. Cannabinoid receptors are wide-spread throughout your body with the highest levels found in the brain. These receptors specifically interact within your endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoid receptors have been described as the “locks”, with cannabinoids called the “keys”. Because CBD is a cannabinoid, it can interact with the cannabinoid receptors in your endocannabinoid system.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
Your endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex central cell-signaling network comprised of endocannabinoids that bind to your cannabinoid receptors. The ECS has a series of receptors scattered all over the body that accept cannabinoids. In fact, your body does produce cannabinoids. These cannabinoids are neurotransmitters in your body that attach to cannabinoid receptors in your brain, immune system and other areas of the body.
The ECS is Comprised of Three Main Components:
- Cannabinoid receptors (located on the surface of cells)
- Endocannabinoids (natural molecules that trigger cannabinoid receptors)
- Enzymes (break down endocannabinoids after they are used)
Identified in the 1990’s by researchers studying THC, the primary function of your ECS is to stabilize your internal physiological state. For example, maintaining your ideal blood sugar level, your ideal body temperature, a stable mood, a regular sleep pattern, etc. Your ECS supports this balance at the cellular level by regulating your brain and bodily functions.
The ECS Helps Regulate The Following Physiological Functions:
- Appetite, digestion and metabolism
- Chronic pain and inflammation
- Heart function
- Immune system function
- Learning and memory
- Liver function
- Mood and stress
- Nervous system function
- Reproductive system function
- Skin, muscle and bone
- Sleep regulation
- Temperature regulation
How Your Cannabinoid Receptors Respond to CBD
Similar to cannabinoid receptors, CBD has a unique “lock and key” interaction with your ECS. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t directly trigger your cannabinoid receptors. Instead, it modifies your receptors’ ability to bind to cannabinoids. One indirect action in particular is activation of TRPV1 receptors. These receptors are involved in regulating pain, inflammation and body temperature.
CBD actually mimics the effects of your own cannabinoids by interacting with your endocannabinoid receptors, as well as with other types of receptors. CBD influences other types of receptors that enhance your natural levels of endocannabinoids by inhibiting certain enzymes. Finally, there two types of cannabinoids that influence the receptors of your ECS. These are endocannabinoids naturally produced in your body and phytocannabinoids found in cannabis.
Considering CBD’s unique effect on your endocannabinoid system and on other areas of your body, the outlook is truly exciting for potential treatments of a whole host of medical conditions.
- C. Sallaberry and L. Astern, The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator (June 2018)
- Healthline, Endocannabinoid System, A Simple Guide to How It Works (May 2019)