How Does CBD Work? Everything You Need To Know

If you are just learning about all the benefits of CBD, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the information, products, and opinions out there about it. In this article, we will outline the basics of what CBD is, how it works, and what it can do for you and your family’s health. 

What is CBD?

CBD stands for Cannabidiol. It is a phytonutrient that is found in all types of plants within the Cannabis species, including hemp. 

CBD is known as a “cannabinoid.” In truth, there are about one hundred different kinds of cannabinoids in cannabis.(1) THC is also a cannabinoid. You may know of THC as the substance that produces the psychoactive effect within medical marijuana. The truth, however, is that THC does a lot more than just “get us high.” The very mechanisms of healing that cannabis offers actually depend on both CBD and THC work together within the plant and also within our bodies. 

This is why hemp actually contains trace amounts of THC. The amount of THC within hemp (legally less than .3 %) is not enough to get you “high.” but it is enough to work with CBD to produce the biochemical reactions needed for health. 

How CBD Works In Your Body

So why all the focus on CBD these days? The reason has to do with biochemistry. You can think of the human body’s biochemistry as all the communications that have to take place between different molecular substances so that everything continues to run smoothly. Our bodies circulate blood, regenerate cells, digest food, and perform a thousand other functions without us even having to think about it. All that is thanks to biochemical mechanisms. 

Our bodies are pretty miraculous on their own. But we can also play a part in helping them along. This is especially true in this day and age when we are constantly bombarded by toxins in the air, in the food we eat, and in the water we drink. It is also important to help our bodies stay healthy as we age, are under stress, or when we are faced with a serious health condition. 

One of the ways we can help our bodies is to provide extra support for the “endocannabinoid system.” Many people have never heard of the endocannabinoid system, although science has validated its existence since the early 1990s! 

The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system’s main job is to maintain “homeostasis,” i.e. balance, in response to constantly changing external and internal environments. This system relies on molecular signaling mechanisms called endocannabinoids, which are produced organically in the body. According to the University of California, Los Angeles’ Cannabis Research Initiative, endocannabinoid “receptors are present throughout the body, including [in] our skin, immune cells, bone, fat tissue, liver, pancreas, skeletal muscle, heart, blood vessels, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract.” 

Researchers at UCLA also explain that the endocannabinoid system participates in a “wide variety of processes, including pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, sleep, metabolism, immune function, and reproductive function.”(2) 

Endocannabinoids are important for mechanisms throughout the entire body. Because of stress, poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle habits, toxins, genetics, and a variety of other reasons, the endocannabinoid system can get strained and worn out. When this happens, endogenously produced endocannabinoids may be sub-par or may not be able to be produced at all. 

This is where a high-quality CBD product can really help. CBD from cannabis is molecularly similar to naturally-produced endocannabinoids. It is able to provide extra support to the system so that signals don’t get lost and organs, pain receptors, stress responses, digestive processes, and inflammatory mechanisms all go back into balance. 

And when this balance occurs, it translates into less pain, less inflammation, and more vital energy for you! 

X Symptoms and Conditions CBD Can Help With  

Medical marijuana health benefits have been proven by decades of research and so has the benefits of full-spectrum CBD extract from hemp. Below are the most common conditions and symptoms that CBD can help with, all verified by science: 

 

#1 Pain and Inflammation. Thousands of people utilize CBD for pain. Studies have found that CBD can help with sciatic nerve pain, migraines, pain, and cramping associated with menstruation (i.e. PMS), arthritis pain, muscle spasms, pain associated with fibromyalgia, and much more.(3)(4) A 2012 multi-disciplinary study conducted in part at John Hopkins University found that CBD helped with chronic pain in general by producing significant analgesic effects.(5) 

The main reason CBD is so great for pain is that CBD helps to reduce inflammation in the body. A 2018 animal study is just one investigation amongst several that have found that CBD helped to prevent the release of inflammatory compounds.(6) 


#2 Sleep. Roughly forty million people in the U.S. have serious trouble falling and staying asleep. CBD can be extremely effective for sleep-related disorders. A study published more than 30 years ago found that CBD’s ability to lower inflammation calm pain helped individuals sleep deeper at night.(8) More recently, a 2017 review found that CBD can help with insomnia and REM sleep disorder.(9) 

 

#3 Cognitive Support and Help with Mood. CBD can help with a variety of cognitive disorders and can also balance out mood disorders as well. One of the most notable is anxiety. In fact, many studies have found that taking CBD may help with a diversity of anxiety-related disorders including PTSD, panic disorder, social anxiety, OCD, and GAD (general anxiety disorder).(10)

New research has also found that the anti-inflammatory mechanisms in CBD as well as other factors can help with traumatic brain injury. A particular cannabinoid called 2-AG is able to reduce levels of brain toxins that tend to accumulate after a hard blow, according to a study conducted at Hebrew University in Israel.(11) 

CBD reduces free radicals and oxidative stress in the brain which not only reduces inflammation but also helps to increase blood supply. This not only helps with brain injury; it can also be beneficial for symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Hutchinson’s disease. An Australian study found that Alzheimer’s patients who take CBD may be more likely to recognize familiar faces.(12) 

#5 Eye Health. Many people are surprised to find out that CBD can help, sometimes significantly, with a variety of age and stress-related eye complaints. In fact, science is discovering the presence of cannabinoid receptors in the eyes themselves. 

CBD has been shown to help with macular degeneration and glaucoma because of its anti-inflammatory mechanisms. CBD (as well as THC) can also reduce intraocular pressure, according to a 2004 study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.(13)  CBD also inhibits the production of certain substances that stem these age-related conditions, such as VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor).(14) 

#6 Digestive Relief. Millions of people in the U.S. suffer from digestive issues such as IBS, diverticulitis, Crohn’s Disease, Leaky Gut, and more. Researchers are discovering the presence of CB1 endocannabinoid receptors in the large and small intestines as well as in the stomach, the esophagus, the pharynx, the mouth, and the anus.(15)

A comprehensive review put together by researchers at the University of Mississippi found that CBD administered sublingually helped significantly with symptoms of IBS, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This is just one study a diversity of investigations that have established the connection between CBD use and relief from a variety of digestive issues.(16) 

#6 Heart Health. Heart attack remains the #1 cause of death in the United States. CBD has proven to have significant benefits for the cardiovascular system. It can lower blood pressure, stabilize the mechanisms of metabolic syndrome, and lessen the likelihood of both stroke and heart attack.

One animal study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that CBD reduced oxidative stress and prevented cardiac damage that may come with diabetes.(17) 

Of course the above list represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of the specific conditions CBD is known to help with. Other conditions include skin disorders such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and a variety of autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s, M.S., and Lupus. CBD alone, and sometimes in conjunction with THC, can also be beneficial for healing from cancer, according to numerous studies. 

How Do You Take CBD? 

CBD comes in a variety of forms including creams and lotions to use topically, edible products such as cookies and gummies, nasal sprays, vapes for inhalation, and oil in capsules or droplets. 

No matter how you take it, the best CBD oil is sourced from all-natural, organic hemp or other strains of cannabis Sativa and is “full-spectrum” so that it contains all the phytonutrients available in the whole plant. Make sure that your CBD oil, gummy, or cream is of the highest quality and that it has been tested to be mycotoxin and pesticide-free as well. 

Most people tolerate CBD well in dosages between 20 to 800 mg so don’t be shy on your journey with CBD! Start out slow and experiment to find the right product and dosage for you. 

Then watch the pain, anxiety, and other symptoms stabilize as you begin to thrive again with CBD! 

 

References: 

    1. The Most Common Cannabinoids Found in Cannabis
    2. Human Endocannabinoid System
    3. An experimental randomized study on the analgesic effects of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis in chronic pain patients with fibromyalgia
    4. Emerging Role of (Endo)Cannabinoids in Migraine
    5. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors
    6. The non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) attenuates pro-inflammatory mediators, T cell infiltration, and thermal sensitivity following spinal cord injury in mice
    7. Randomized controlled trial of cannabis-based medicine in spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis
    8. Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of cannabidiol.
    9. Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature
    10. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
    11. Study: THC-Like Drug Helps Brain Injuries
    12. Long-term cannabidiol treatment prevents the development of social recognition memory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease transgenic mice
    13. Cannabinoids and glaucoma
    14. VEGF and Age-related Macular Degeneration
    15. Cannabinoids and the Digestive Tract
    16. Current Status and Prospects for Cannabidiol Preparations as New Therapeutic Agents
    17. Cannabidiol attenuates cardiac dysfunction, oxidative stress, fibrosis, inflammatory and cell death signaling pathways in diabetic cardiomyopathy

 

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