How does CBD work?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is an organic cannabinoid that, unlike its popular THC isomer, does not have a psychoactive effect. In this article, we’ll look at the mechanisms by which CBD affects our body.

The effect of CBD on the endocannabinoid system
Modification of the action of THC
Contrary to initial assumptions, research carried out in 2015 showed that CBD has very little effect on CB1 endocannabinoid receptors. Only in the presence of THC cannabidiol modulates the activity of the CB1 receptor so that it significantly reduces the psychoactive and psychotic properties of THC.

Effect on CB2 receptors

CB2 receptors are associated with the formation of inflammation in the body. CBD is a weak inverse agonist of the CB2 receptor, so it reduces its effect and, as a result, reduces inflammation. However, it acts on the CB2 receptor to a small extent, so another mechanism must be responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect.

Anandamide reuptake inhibition

Since CBD acts on the CB1 receptor to a small extent, and is more potent only in the presence of THC, and has little effect on CB2, where does its effect come from? The answer lies in the cannabinoid that is naturally produced by our body, the anandamide.

Cannabidiol does not affect Anandamide directly, but only by affecting enzymes and proteins it affects its concentration and potency.

CBD inhibits the action of the main enzyme of the endocannabinoid system of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which breaks down anandamide, and consequently increases its concentration in the system, increasing its potency.

CBD also acts on fatty acid transporting proteins (FABPs). These proteins are responsible for binding anadamide at synapses and transporting it beyond where it is broken down. CBD binds to these proteins in place of anandamide, causing the concentration of anadamide to increase and this messenger to act more strongly on the system.

As we can see, CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system does not fully explain all the properties of this cannabinoid. Affinity for the receptors for CB1 and CB2 would explain the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, but the weak potency of the action on these receptors does not allow for this explanation alone. CBD works mainly by influencing the concentration of the naturally produced anandamide cannabinoid, but effects on other systems in the human body cannot be excluded.

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