What is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), by itself it does not cause a "high." According to a report from the World Health Organization, "In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.... To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD."

How Does CBD Work?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating psychoactive cannabinoid that acts as a pleiotropic drug in that it produces many effects through multiple molecular pathways. Pleiotropy refers to the expression of multiple traits by a single gene.

CBD doesn't directly interact with our two cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, that many cannabinoids, such as THC or CBG, interact with. Instead, CBD interacts with our endocannabinoids, Endo meaning endogenous or internal and these receptors are considered "endogenous cannabinoids" because cannabinoids interact with them.

The question many people always ask is "how does CBD work in the human body?" We all know it posses many magnificent traits ranging from relieving anxiety to pain and even having anti-cancer properties.

In this section, we'll go over all the main receptors that CBD interacts with to produce the different medicinal properties we all have seen it do and even some stuff you didn't know it does such as promoting bone growth.

Anandamide is a molecule within our body named after the Sanskrit word Ananda which means 'bliss' or 'divine happiness.'

It was discovered in 1992 by scientists researching the effects of THC on the brain in the research laboratory of Raphael Mechoulam. Mechoulam is a pioneer in the research of cannabis plant families, including hemp, where you find high concentrations of CBD.

Anandamide functions as a neurotransmitter because it sends messages between nerve cells throughout the nervous system. It mostly affects the brain's areas that influence pleasure, happiness, cognitive, sensory, and motor functions.

Unlike other receptors, Anandamide is produced on demand rather than sitting in large pools waiting to be released. When CBD is consumed, it increases anandamide production that interacts with receptors in the brain, increasing dopamine levels linked to pleasure and happiness.

Anandamide plays a role in mood regulation, boosting dopamine levels, which increase happiness and joy, reducing pain, managing stress, and regulating sleep, among many other bodily functions.

Ways to increase Anandamide production:
Black Truffles
Fruits and vegetables
2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)
2-AG, short for 2-arachidonoylglycerol, is the second most widely studied endocannabinoid after anandamide. They also possess many similar properties.

There was an interesting study conducted on 2-AG that was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2017 by Dr. Sarah Biedermann, MD. In this study, they measured the blood serum levels of anandamide, 2-AG, and cortisol after self-stimulation in both men and women. They found that 2-AG increased during orgasm. However, all other chemicals measured including the "bliss" molecule anandamide, did not change.

2-AG and anandamide are similar in that they are released from the postsynaptic neuron that is receiving the neurotransmitter back across the synapse to interact with the presynaptic neuron sending it.

Sending messages back to the presynaptic neuron that is sending messages allows for many physiological functions to occur. Such as simply telling the presynaptic neuron to stop firing to inducing neuroplastic changes that neural junction.

Something else that is interesting is that 2-AG and anandamide both attach to the CB1 receptor but anandamide, however, anandamide doesn't attach to the CB2 receptor while 2-AG is a full CB2 agonist, meaning that it's capable of producing a maximum response.

If you recall from reading about the Endocannabinoid System, CB1 receptors are found mainly in the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS), which consists of the brain and spinal cord. In comparison, the CB2 receptors are found in our Central Nervous System (CNS), which consists of our immune system and inflammation response.

TRPV1, is one of the dozen TRP (pronounced "trip") receptor subfamilies that mediate a wide range of therapeutic benefits.

It's also called the "capsaicin receptor" since it's the primary receptor that capsaicin, an anti-inflammatory compound found in chili peppers, binds to when it enters the body.

TRPV1, also called vanilloid receptor 1, helps control our body temperature and plays a role in how we feel pain. Several methods can activate this receptor:

Temperatures above 109 degrees Fahrenheit
Capsaicin, a molecule responsible for the spicy sensation of chili peppers
Acidic conditions in the body
Cannabidiol (CBD)
The primary function of TRPV1 is to cause searing pain, but prolonged TRPV1 activation reduces pain. It does so by "desensitization" of the receptors, which is achieved by prolonged exposure to activating agents.

CBD as an Allosteric Modulator
CBD has shown to have a unique trait of reducing the intoxicating effects caused by THC. It's capable of doing this because CBD is an allosteric receptor modulator. This means that it can either enhance or inhibit how a receptor transmits a signal by changing the shape of the receptor. CBD can either be a negative allosteric receptor modulator or positive, which we'll cover.

CBD is known to act as a negative allosteric receptor modulator to the cannabinoid receptor CB1 found in our Central Nervous System, which is mainly in our brain and spinal cord. The same cannabinoid receptor that THC attaches to produce its intoxicating effects when consumed.

While CBD doesn't attach directly to the CB1 receptor, studies show that it acts in a negative allosteric method where it changes the shape of the CB1 receptor in a way that weakens CB1's ability to bind with THC. This explains CBD's ability to inhibit the intoxicating effects caused by THC. People don't feel as "high" when consuming CBD-rich cannabis or consuming a THC product along with CBD.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

Before the 1990s, scientists barely understood the effects of cannabis on the human body. When they discovered the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the 1990s, science health began to change. It was demonstrated that all vertebrates, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish, produce endocannabinoids. The primary purpose of the ECS is to make sure the body maintains homeostasis, though it is much more complex than that.

The ECS got its name because its discovery was a result of human use of cannabis. While cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, it was not until 1964 when scientists Yechiel Gaoni and Raphael Mechoulam figured out that THC was the primary active chemical in cannabis. They named THC a "cannabinoid." With that discovery, scientists began exploring the effects of cannabis on the brain, discovering that THC had the power to bind firmly to specific parts of the brain. This meant that THC functioned by way of receptors in the body. In 1992, Allyn Howlett and her team were able to identify and successfully clone CB1, or cannabinoid receptor 1. Following that, they identified and cloned another, CB2. These are the two main cannabinoid receptors in the body, though there are others.

Endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid receptors are found throughout the human body and are responsible for various bodily tasks. The ultimate purpose of the ESC is maintaining a stable environment in the body, regardless of how the external environments we experience change. Along with this, the ECS (its endocannabinoids and cannabinoids) serves as a bridge between the body's different systems, making sure cells of all kinds can effectively communicate and coordinate with one another. Here is an example of how this works. Say you are injured. At the site of the injury, cannabinoids are there, reducing how many sensitizers and activators are released from the injured area. As a result, the nerves are calmer, less inflammation occurs, and less pain is felt.

The ECS also connects the body and the mind by way of how it acts on the nervous system, immune system, and each of the body's organs. This helps to explain how a person's mental state can affect their physical health. The increasing legality of cannabis allows for more research and, subsequently, more knowledge on how the ECS works. Current evidence suggests that it plays a role in the brain, vascular, reproductive, and immune function. In particular, it clearly influences memory, motor function, cognition, and the perception of pain.

These functions all contribute to homeostasis, which refers to the stability of your internal environment. For example, if an outside force, such as pain from an injury or a fever, throws off your body's homeostasis, your ECS kicks in to help your body return to its ideal operation.

Is cannabidiol legal?

CBD is available in most parts of the United States, though its exact legal status is in limbo. All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with different levels of restriction, and while the federal government still considers CBD in the same class as marijuana, it doesn't habitually enforce against it. In December 2015, the FDA eased the regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct CBD trials. Currently, many people obtain CBD online without a medical cannabis license. The government's position on CBD is unclear, and depends in part on whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana. The legality of CBD is expected to change, as there is currently bipartisan consensus in Congress to make the hemp crop legal which would, for all intents and purposes, make CBD difficult to prohibit.

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