It’s said to relieve stress, alleviate the symptoms of everything from epilepsy* to post-traumatic stress disorder, and even to manage insomnia. Many already swear by it as part of their self-care rituals. However is this simply hype or is there a biological basis to why hemp-derived CBD may have all these seemingly miraculous effects on your body?
Delving into the biology of it is pretty interesting, and at the heart of it all is the fact that cannabis compounds - known as cannabinoids - aren’t just found in the cannabis plant. They’re also found in your body, and they’re thought to be there to keep many of your body’s other systems running smoothly. That’s the raison d’etre of the endocannabinoid system, which has been a topic of scientific research since the 80s and 90s.
The endocannabinoid system: a brief biology lesson
The endocannabinoid system is made up of naturally occurring substances called endocannabinoids, along with enzymes that break them down, and two different kinds of receptors known as ‘CB1’ and ‘CB2’. CB1 receptors are mostly found in your spinal column and brain, around the bits that control essential things like your memory, coordination and emotions. CB2 receptors are more widely distributed around your central nervous, digestive and immune systems, and these help with things like inflammation and immune response.
These receptors are what allow endocannabinoids to do their job, helping to keep many systems in your body in check, from your temperature to your appetite. But it’s also the interaction between the compounds found in cannabis and these receptors that produces the psychoactive effects of THC (the mind-altering component of cannabis) - as well as the anti-inflammatory impact of CBD. It’s worth remembering here that the reason why THC get you high and CBD doesn’t is because it bonds itself directly to your CB1 receptors, while CBD doesn’t. While there is a clear connection between cannabinoid and receptor, THC going after CB1 and CBD preferring CB2 receptors, its more complicated then that. “It turns out though it is not so day and night with these two receptors.” says Dr. Adam Friedman, Professor and Interim Chair of Dermatology at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “We are learning more about them every day and its possible that activation of either can have a similar effect on symptoms such as pain and itch or immune responses for example, just through different mechanisms,” he says.
Our understanding is growing all the time thanks to new studies as well as research into the effects of CBD on the treatment of all manner of conditions. With the endocannabinoid system still at the cutting edge of scientific research, we’re excited to be here to discover, test and share all the latest CBD wellness developments with you. Join us on this exciting journey...
*In June 2018, the FDA approved the first-ever cannabidiol (CBD) treatment for two rare forms of epilepsy.
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