How does CBD interact with the ECS?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system identified in the early 1990s by researchers exploring THC, a well-known cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis.

The main function of the endocannabinoid system is that it’s responsible for helping the body maintain a state of homeostasis. In other words, any process that’s self-regulating by which a biological system maintains stability while adjusting to the conditions that ensure its survival.

When the endocannabinoid system is able to function properly, and the state of homeostasis is maintained, the body is able to function properly as well. But, if homeostasis is not maintained, it can lead to many problems and ultimately, the death of an individual.

Experts are still trying to fully understand the ECS. But so far, we know it plays role in regulating a range of functions and processes, including:

  • sleep
  • mood
  • appetite
  • memory
  • reproduction and fertility

It was discovered in the 1980s, that humans along with some animals synthesize chemical transmitters known as endocannabinoids naturally in the body. The molecules interact with the proteins that are present in our brands and other organs and are known as cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2, or CB1 and CB2.

Along with these receptors being found in the brain and visceral organs, they’re also found in the largest organ of the human body; our skin. The CB1 and CB2 receptors are found in nerve endings, sweat glands and the epithelial cells of hair follicles. In other words, these receptors form an intricate network from the deepest to the most superficial cells and tissues in the body.

How does THC interact with the ECS?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis. It’s the compound that gets you “high.”

Once in your body, THC interacts with your ECS by binding to receptors, just like endocannabinoids. It’s powerful partly because it can bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors.

This allows it to have a range of effects on your body and mind, some more desirable than others. For example, THC may help to reduce pain and stimulate your appetite. But it can also cause paranoia and anxiety in some cases.

Experts are currently looking into ways to produce synthetic THC cannabinoids that interact with the ECS in only beneficial ways.

How does CBD interact with the ECS?

CBD works by binding to CB1 receptors in the body. Unlike THC, which is another type of cannabinoid, hemp molecules don’t bind to the primary binding site of CB1 receptors but at a different location. Since it’s bound by its location, hemp modulates the interaction that occurs with the molecules in the primary binding site. In short, hemp doesn’t have the same psychoactive effects on the endocannabinoid system in the way that THC does.

As mentioned, hemp doesn’t actually attach itself to CB1 or CB2 receptors, instead, it helps stimulate these receptors, causing a reaction without binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors. Additionally, hemp molecules also bind to TRPV-1, which is a protein receptor responsible for regulating pain, inflammation and temperature in the body.

Also, by activating serotonin receptors in the body, hemp has been found to counteract the negative effects of THC.

There’s a lot of research still being done on the endocannabinoid system but so far we know that it maintains the body’s homeostasis. THC along with CBD are two of the most prominent cannabinoids that interact with this system and allows it to function properly.

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