How Does CBD Work in the Body?

There are a lot of questions out there about CBD, but there’s one fundamental question that is at the core of all of them: How does CBD actually work in the body?

You should absolutely know how anything you put in your body works, and we want you to be empowered and informed to make decisions around your health. So in this article we’ll do our best to lay out an overview of how CBD interacts with your body’s natural systems.

Get to Know Your Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

Scientific and medical research on CBD is advancing quickly but is just really getting started on a larger scale, and for good reason.

Because CBD is derived from cannabis, for decades the federal government made it very difficult for scientists to study it. So it wasn’t until the late ‘80s that scientists first identified that the human brain is filled with cannabinoid receptors, the two most abundant types of which are called CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Further investigation revealed the presence of an entire signaling system inside the body, which was named the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS’ job is to maintain stability and consistency in your body, and so it reaches nearly every system in the body, from the digestive system to the immune system to your muscular system and many more. When any of those systems become unbalanced, your ECS system kicks in and begins work on restoring order.

When your body detects an imbalance, your ECS works to get back to stability by:
  • Releasing its own cannabinoids, which
  • activate your cannabinoid receptors, which
  • send signals to that body system to get to work on repairs. 
In other words, cannabinoids are keys that fit perfectly into your cannabinoid receptors. Once that key is turned, it activates your receptors and opens the door for your body to naturally begin healing itself.

How CBD Interacts With Your ECS

As it happens, the cannabis plant is made up of cannabinoids that also fit your endocannabinoid receptors perfectly. (This is why cannabis is sometimes referred to as a “miracle plant.”)  

So when producers extract CBD from the cannabis plant and you then ingest it, you’re replicating your body’s natural system. The cannabinoid “keys” that you’ve taken pair with your receptors and help activate your ECS system.

This is why CBD may help if you have a deficiency or your body is imbalanced in some way, and since your ECS is connected to such a vast array of body systems, the unique potential for CBD to help ease everything from inflammation to anxiety is enormous. This is why CBD is currently approved by the FDA to treat epilepsy, and many more are reporting that it’s helping them with digestive issues, pain and inflammation, sleep problems, and much more.

In this sense, taking CBD is more like taking a supercharged supplement than a pharmaceutical.

In this sense, taking CBD is more like taking a supercharged supplement than a pharmaceutical. It doesn’t alter your body in any way, only help stimulate your natural systems to get you back to your balanced self.

A Word on Targeted Effects and Terpenes

As we mentioned above, research on the ECS, how it interacts with CBD, and its effects is a growing field where there’s still much to learn, and currently much of that research is being done around how cannabis can be used to more precisely target your body’s specific systems. For example, new research indicates that CBD directly activates the 5-HT1A (hydroxytryptamine) serotonin receptor, which may help explain why some report that CBD helps ease feelings of anxiety.  

As opposed to “Pure” isolate CBD, where a producer extracts CBD from the cannabis plant without any changes, Lucent believes that the next evolution of CBD with be to further formulate CBD to target body systems and specific imbalances.

One way to more precisely formulate CBD is through the use of terpenes. Terpenes are essential oils found in cannabis that give it an aroma - they’re also used in aromatherapy - and studies have shown they can help to boost the effects of CBD’s interactions with the ECS. For example, the terpene myrecene can be used to help induce a feeling of sleepiness, while the terpene limonene can be more energizing.

We’ll dive far deeper into terpenes in a future article, but for now if you remember that CBD helps activate your body’s stability systems, and terpenes can be used to further refine the potential effects of that CBD, you’re on solid round.

Quick Reminder: CBD is Not THC

It’s worth emphasizing that in all of the material above, we’re only talking about CBD, not THC. While both come from the cannabis plant, and both work by interacting with the ECS, CBD alone has no psychoactive effects.

Because they do have much in common we know understanding the differences between CBD and THC can be a little confusing, so we highly recommend also reading our article detailing the differences between the two.

There’s so much more to learn about the specifics of the ECS and CBD, but we hope this introductory article has given you a good sense of the basics. In the coming weeks we’ll be writing plenty more, and of course reach out anytime with questions - we’d love to hear from you.

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