Learn How CBD Works in the Brain and Body. The Science Behind the Magic
Learn How CBD Works in the Brain and Body. The Science Behind the Magic
Ever wonder how does CBD actually works in your body to provide all that natural goodness that you have come to love?
Well, it can get pretty complicated but I’m going to explain it in plain English so you can impress all your friends about your newfound knowledge about the subject.
So exactly how does CBD work?
To answer this question, we first need to take a look at what CBD is.
CBD, cannabidiol, is a phytocannabinoid derived from cannabis. Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids that come from plants.
All cannabinoids work on your ECS, also known as the Endocannabinoid system.
Your body’s ECS helps the body control pain sensation, appetite, mood, memory, immunity and more. It maintains a healthy homeostasis or balance in the body.
The ECS is found throughout the body’s nervous system – central and peripheral.
One amazing fact about the ECS: scientists have evidence that it leads to nerve function plasticity. I’m not talking about the material used to make cheap Chinese knock offs.
What I mean is the ECS has the ability to adapt and change the way your cells and nervous system works and interacts with each other. Your body doesn’t always work the same way throughout your entire life.
Things change. You change.
Your mind and body are not rigid but moldable entities that CAN change. This means that YOU can change. Hope alive, that’s incredibly exciting stuff.
Sorry….I went a bit of a philosophical rant there. My apologies. Ok, back to cannabinoids and how they work.
Earlier, I mentioned before that CBD is a phytocannabinoid. Well, did you know that the body produces its own cannabinoids?
They’re called endocannabinoids.
The two most commonly known endocannabinoids are Anadamide and 2 – AG (2 -ararchidonoylglyceride).
The body produces these cannabinoids on demand when triggered by activity in the nervous system.
I’ve created an image breaking down the different types of cannabinoids.
These little cannabinoid molecules work by attaching to receptors or proteins to elicit a response.
This works similarly to a lock and key where the cannabinoid is the key and the receptor is the lock.
This diagram can better display what I’m trying to say.
Photo: ECS nerve cell diagram w/ cannabinoids
Studies have shown that when activated these receptors prevent neurotransmitters (chemical nerve messengers) from being released to activate other nerve cells.
There are two primary cannabinoid receptors
These receptors are G-coupled protein receptors made from various proteins and amino acids.
CB1 receptors are mainly found in the brain but they are found in other parts of the nervous system too.
Photo: 3-D rendering of CB1 receptor
CB2 receptors are heavily concentrated in tissues of the immune system and throughout the spleen, tonsils and thymus but they’re found elsewhere too.
CBD, specifically, is an antagonist to CB1/CB2 receptor agonists.
Say what now???
Essentially, this means that CBD produces an opposite effect to that of other cannabinoids.
Referring back to the previous analogy, CBD is the key that goes into the lock and produces an effect that is opposite or antagonistic to a typical response.
So hypothetically speaking, if one cannabinoid made you run forward then CBD would make you run backward.
Once the CBD molecule binds to a receptor, certain enzymes are activated in the nerve cell that triggers a set of events.
For example, if your nerve cells are activated to cause inflammation in the body then CBD can come in and prevent the activation of those inflammatory responses and lower inflammation.
On a simplified, scientific level, this is how CBD works in the brain and body to create its therapeutic effects.
Moving on, let’s go over how CBD gets broken down and how much your body realistically uses when taking it. Hint: it’s much less.
If you think that taking 50 mg of CBD means your body is using all 50 mg then you would be incorrect.
This is because of a process called first-pass metabolism. First pass metabolism is a process that affects the bioavailability of a given drug or substance.
Bioavailability is a term used to describe how much is leftover of a given drug after it has gone through the digestion and the liver.
Image: Your liver breaks down drugs
What’s leftover is a smaller percentage than what you started off with.
If you take 100 mg of CBD, don’t expect all 100mg will be used by your system. A lot of it gets broken down and wasted. When you take CBD orally, only 6% becomes bioavailable.
So, if you took 100 mg of CBD then only 6 mg would be available for the body after metabolism. That’s crazy, right!?!? Talk about waste…
The good news is not all methods of taking CBD is subject to that first-pass metabolism.
Inhaling CBD has a higher bioavailability. Percentages are in the range of 11-45%.
Just know that how you take CBD will also have an impact on how long it takes to work.
Moving on to our next topic.
How long CBD stays in your system?
Once CBD is in your system, it takes about 27-35 hours for half of it to break down.
A study from the University of Arizona found CBD in subjects for up to one week after taking it every day for 6 weeks.
How long CBD stays in your system will vary from person to person.
A large part is dependent on how much you take and how long you’ve been taking it. If you’re a heavy user, then I would expect it would take much longer than someone who uses it occasionally.
This is just a basic summary but you can find more detailed info here.
Now that we’ve gone over how CBD is broken down and used in your body, this leads us to our next topic: what feelings to expect when taking CBD.
How does CBD make you feel?
CBD does several things very well. Of which, you can expect your body to feel
- Improved mood
- Restful sleep
Photo: CBD and happiness? You betcha!
After taking CBD, your body will feel more calm and relaxed. In times of high stress, it will give a greater sense of freedom.
It’s hard to be yourself when you’re anxious or stressed. You become a different person. This can put a strain on your relationships and everyday life.
Being more at ease will improve your general mood. It will make interacting with other people much easier and you will feel better about yourself.
Have trouble sleeping at night?
Improved relaxation makes going to sleep much easier. Constant tossing and turning makes falling asleep hard. When your body feels more relaxed, it’ll not only be easier to fall asleep but you’ll have more sound sleep too.
These are just some of the basic ways that CBD can affect the body. There are many more.
As CBD becomes more popular, scientific research will continue to reveal more incredible properties that will help with your day-to-day life.
A common question that comes up about CBD is its alleged effect on its cannabinoid brother — THC.
How does CBD affect THC?
There is early evidence that suggests CBD has an effect on THC.
THC directly activates CB receptors. THC is another type of key that can fit into the CB receptor keyhole.
The only difference is that THC is known as a receptor agonist. Like CBD, THC attaches to a receptor and sets off a sequence of events but THC’s effects are opposite.
For this reason, there is the notion that CBD works against many of the effects caused by THC like anxiety, paranoia and increased appetite.
This study showed that people with CBD and THC in their system had less psychotic episodes than those with just THC.
However, there were also other studies that did not find any correlation between CBD and its effects on THC.
For now, it is too early to tell whether CBD can alter the side effects caused by marijuana/THC use.
When it comes down it, just know that CBD works on the endocannabinoid system found in your nervous system. By binding to CB receptors they either promote or block certain functions.
More research needs to be completed in order to pinpoint the exact mechanics on how CBD functions and its effects on the brain and body.
Many of the results from these studies still need further investigation and are only a small part of the bigger picture
There is an intriguing hypothesis being thrown around about how it can block the effects of THC but research has still found results inconclusive. I would say that the jury is still out on that one. Regardless, CBD is beaming with health benefits.
CBD will have your body feeling calm and relaxed. This, in turn, will reduce stress and anxiety. Lack of stress will put you in better moods and make life more happy and enjoyable. It can also improve your sleep quality so you’re not as tired and have more energy to live life to its fullest.