Many of us are familiar with the benefits of CBD, including pain management, better sleep, and a better mood. But just how do these effects come to be?
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, a complex system in our bodies that manages many processes like homeostasis and even digestion. For that reason, CBD can cause an array of positive sensations, like relaxation and pain relief.
Cannabinoids aren’t the only factor at play, though. Existing systems in the body are also relevant in this discussion; without something to interact with, after all, how would outside substances like cannabinoids be able to produce tangible change? Much of who we are and how we function comes from chemical reactions in the body, and CBD products are an example of a substance that can create a positive experience with hardly any side-effects.
How do cannabinoids work?
Cannabinoids work by interacting with a system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex network of receptors that extends throughout the central nervous system and other parts of the body or brain.
Cannabinoids, while typically mentioned in discussions surrounding CBD or cannabis plants in general, are simply defined as any molecules or substances that impact this system. Cannabinoids can be both naturally-occurring and synthetically created, but they all work to influence bodily and mental functions.
Cannabinoids produce effects that users seek out by binding to or coming into contact with specific receptors throughout the ECS. Different cannabinoids – THC, for instance, versus CBD – work differently and, as a result, cause different results.
Cannabinoids influence the way cells communicate, function, and receive messages from elsewhere in the body, which makes them a powerful tool for both medicinal and recreational purposes.
What happens when a cannabinoid binds to a cannabinoid receptor?
When a cannabinoid binds to a cannabinoid receptor in the ECS, changes in mood, physical state, and more might occur. It really depends on the cannabinoid in question, as some cannabinoids bind to specific receptors more than others.
As mentioned above, the ECS is expansive and has a role in regulating both physical and mental processes. As such, it’s possible for a cannabinoid to impact physical phenomena, like chronic pain and inflammation, as well as mental phenomena like anxiety.
Two primary receptors, known as CB1 and CB2, are often in play when an individual introduces cannabinoids like CBD into the body. Present in the nervous system and immune system respectively, these receptors can bind to a wide variety of cannabinoids and, as a result, are often at play when it comes to reaping the benefits of CBD products.
The ECS exists and functions regardless of an individual’s cannabis use habits. That is, the receptors, enzymes, and naturally-occurring molecules in the body that work in the ECS (known as endocannabinoids) are in each and every one of us, even those who have never used cannabis.
It can be helpful to think of the ECS as a pre-existing and functional machine that’s constantly working to help your body maintain homeostasis.
Introducing cannabinoids into your system by consuming them leads to reactions within the ECS that create a variety of mental and physical effects.
Cannabinoids are like keys that match with receptors in the ECS to unlock specific, desired reactions.
What do cannabinoids do in the body?
The primary thing that cannabinoids do in the body is interact with and bind to receptors within the ECS. Because cannabinoids impact the way cells behave and communicate with one another, they can influence the way an individual feels or acts.
Exactly what effects are created by cannabinoids depends on the cannabinoid in question.
Some cannabinoids, like THC, create effects that are considered psychoactive (creating a “high” that lasts for several hours). Others, like CBD, merely interact with (and typically improve) bodily processes without causing serious changes.
In addition, some cannabinoids bind to specific receptors that tend to influence only specific parts of the body or mind – not all cannabinoids are created equal!
Despite these important differences, many cannabinoids do share some basic characteristics. Common effects felt by users regardless of the cannabinoid in question might include:
- A sense of euphoria or happiness
- Laughter, excitement, or heightened energy
- Increased appetite
- Dry mouth
- Feelings of relaxation and lessened anxiety
Remember, there are many more cannabinoids than just CBD and THC, though they tend to be the ones discussed most often. Other cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, CBC, etc. still exist in many products, notably those that are full-spectrum or derived from marijuana rather than hemp. These other cannabinoids are typically recognized for their contributions to the entourage effect, meaning they are capable of amplifying the positive consequences of cannabinoid use.
How does CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system?
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system by binding to both CB1 and CB2 receptors, which means it interacts with both immune system functions and nervous system functions.
Once bound to and activated, these receptors jumpstart processes that influence how an individual feels and behaves. Immune system functions like inflammation can be targeted, as can those more relevant to an individual’s nervous system, like pain or agitation.
Aside from producing effects a user can feel, this process also impacts the way cells function and can be notable over time, particularly in regards to cell motility, genetic transcription, and other molecular phenomena.
Because CBD can bind with multiple receptors and impact different parts of the body and mind on its own, it’s a very popular, natural method for managing chronic pain, stress, or other ailments.
It essentially functions the way many prescription medications do – to alter bodily processes, at least temporarily – without nearly as many risks or adverse side effects.
Common effects and benefits associated with CBD use include:
- Feelings of tranquility or relaxation
- Lessened anxiety and stress
- An easier time falling and staying asleep
- Lessened inflammation, swelling, and redness
- Lower levels of chronic pain
- Increased appetite
Side effects, while rare and mild, are possible, especially if you’ve taken a dose of CBD that’s much higher than what you’re used to. These side effects might include:
- Dry mouth
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Changes in appetite, particularly lessened or absent appetite
CBD is unique in part because it’s able to produce consistent and genuinely beneficial results without making it impossible for a user to still function and be productive.
CBD does not produce a high, so your coordination, memory, reflexes, etc. will not be significantly altered. In fact, depending on your dosage, the results may be so subtle that it takes some time to notice a real, long-term difference.
What is full spectrum CBD entourage effect?
The “entourage effect,” when discussed in conversations surrounding cannabis, refers to the idea that consuming products with a full profile of cannabinoids and terpenes produces a well-rounded and more powerful experience than consuming cannabinoids individually.
So, consuming a product with more cannabinoids than just CBD – like trace or small amounts of THC, for instance, in addition to others – may be more likely to give you a better experience.
Full spectrum CBD products are those that include, as the name suggests, a full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other important molecules. They may contain trace amounts of THC if derived from hemp or larger amounts if derived from marijuana (notable in the case of medical marijuana products).
Because full spectrum products might have small amounts of THC present, they’re not the best option for those looking to avoid THC entirely (if you’re concerned about drug testing, for example, even small amounts of THC can build up in your system over time).
Products derived from hemp, which includes products that are sold on the general market, are legally required to contain less than 0.3% THC, which is an amount so small that it won’t produce a high. Even trace amounts of other cannabinoids, though, can influence the way a product works with your body and the resulting effects you feel.
CBD isolate products may be a good place to start out, but full spectrum or broad spectrum products are likely a better bet if you’re looking for powerful and long-lasting results. For example, if you are dealing with chronic pain or intense pain, full spectrum products may pack enough punch to help you get over your symptoms.
Understanding what cannabinoids are, where they come from, and how they work with your body are all important parts of becoming an educated consumer.
With a thorough background under your belt, you’re much more likely to be able to easily choose products that target your concerns and fall within the realm of what you’re personally comfortable with.
CBD and other cannabinoids make us feel good by design. They interact with parts of the body that can cause pain, irritation, or distress, much like other more traditional medication options, and halt processes that contribute to these ailments.
Cannabinoids may seem complex (and they are!) or hard to understand, but really, they’re much like any other substance we put into our bodies. They participate in chemical reactions, are broken down, and leave a lasting impact on the way we function.
Choosing the right product for you is, as mentioned, certainly much easier once you understand how CBD works on its own and in conjunction with others.
For great CBD product options, including CBD isolate and full spectrum products alike, be sure to check out our directory which is chock-full of all the information you need to make the best choice for your situation.
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