To know how CBD might be helpful to you, it’s important to know how CBD works in the first place. With all the claims being made about CBD’s potential therapeutic uses, what do we know about how CBD works?
While scientific research is ongoing, and we don’t know everything about CBD yet, we know some things already about how CBD works and how it interacts with the body.
All animals, vertebrate or not, have what’s called an Endocannabinoid System, or ECS – and that includes humans, of course. The ECS is a biological system comprised of cannabinoids and receptors, similar to other systems in your body like the nervous system. Preliminary research indicates that the ECS plays a role in modulating all sorts of different body functions, like appetite, mood, pain sensation, and even fertility and pregnancy.
Part of the ECS is composed of receptors, called cannabinoid receptors. There are two known types of cannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2, respectively. CB1 receptors are expressed primarily in the brain, whereas CB2 receptors are found mostly in the immune system – though some new research has identified CB2 receptors in the brain as well.
These receptors get activated when a cannabinoid binds with them – whether that’s a naturally occurring cannabinoid (called an endocannabinoid, produced naturally by your body), or one that’s introduced by ingestion. In short, when cannabinoids bind to receptors, various body functions are triggered, depending on where the receptor is located.
One example of a body function triggered by the ECS, that will be very familiar to recreational cannabis users, is the modulation of appetite – colloquially, “The Munchies.” When cannabinoids bond with certain CB1 receptors, they were found to increase sweet tastes, and pleasure associated with them. This is one example of how cannabinoids can modulate appetite – by making sweet things taste sweeter, and increasing the pleasure from eating them, cannabinoid users may be inclined to eat more. This is what’s happening on a basic level when you get really hungry after using cannabinoid products.
Appetite modulation is just one effect of the ECS – it has been shown to affect all kinds of processes in your body, from sleep, to anxiety, to pain, and more.