CBD: Know the science behind CBD

Q. What’s the interplay between the endocannabinoid system and CBD?
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Monday, July 1, 2019

A. The endocannabinoid system is involved in a host of regulatory functions affecting processes throughout the body. The endogenous cannabinoid system is a network of receptors, enzymes and biochemical pathways that modulate the production and processing of cannabinoids. CBD and other cannabinoids affect the CB receptors to balance overall health.

The CB1 receptors are found throughout the body and moderate memory, mood, motor function and perception of pain. CB2 receptors are correlated with the immune system. Introducing phytocannabinoids to the ECS modulates the receptors’ ability to bind with the endocannabinoids that naturally occur in the body.

While influencing the CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD also occupies certain enzymes to enhance the natural levels of endocannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system has roles in the nervous system, pregnancy, hormone production, digestion and cardiovascular health. Receptors found in the cells of the immune system are affected by cannabinoids to balance an overactive immune system. An overactive immune system can lead to health conditions such as allergies, asthma, digestive issues, and autoimmune disorders.

Endocannabinoids occur naturally in the body, while phytocannabinoids are found in plants. Hemp is a classification of cannabis containing < 0.3% THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis). More than 100 different cannabinoids are present in the cannabis/hemp plant and research is showing that each of the compounds have different types of effects on the ECS.

Full-spectrum hemp products contain that widest profile of cannabinoids. The synergy and interplay between phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids is commonly referred to as the “entourage effect.” CBD itself plays a large role, but the effects are magnified by the presence of other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN and THCa. Research is showing the varying effects of different compounds, but it is clear that more studies are needed into specific interactions.

When introducing phytocannabinoids to the ECS it is important to start with a low amount and slowly increase until the desired effect is reached. Third-party laboratory testing should be reviewed to confirm the purity and concentration of cannabinoids. Given the wide variance in quality of available hemp products, consumers should be highly selective when selecting a brand.