How CBD Works in the Human Body

How CBD Works in the Human Body
Green Roads CBD


Some people cling to their skepticism about CBD because they’re convinced that cannabinoid-infused products are little more than a passing fad, a gimmicky trend unlikely to deliver meaningful results. Others hold fast to long-held myths and misconceptions about CBD because of the lingering stigma associated with cannabis use.

If you’re intrigued by some of the many possible benefits of CBD use but still on the fence, you might find it helpful to approach the topic from a different angle. Let’s take a look at what CBD is, what it’s not, and how CBD works in the human body.

What Is Hemp-Derived CBD?

CBD is the commonly used abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of more than 100 plant elements classified as a cannabinoid. Since cannabinoids are found most abundantly in cannabis, there are two potential sources of CBD, marijuana and hemp.

Marijuana plants produce varying amounts of CBD and high levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the cannabinoid that produces the type of intoxication cannabis is known for. Although hemp is also a cannabis plant, full plant extracts contain only trace amounts of THC, 0.3% or less. That’s why most people interested in the health and wellness potential of CBD choose products sourced from the stalks, stems, and flowers of industrial hemp plants.

How Does CBD Work? What Is Its Impact on the Human Body?

Cannabis has been used medicinally throughout recorded history. Although an American chemist isolated cannabidiol (CBD) in the 1940s, researchers could only speculate about how (and why) the cannabinoid seemed helpful for so many seemingly unrelated health and wellness concerns. That changed in the early 1990s when researchers identified a previously undiscovered regulatory system responsible for nearly every crucial function in the body, the endocannabinoid system.1

Today, we know that CBD and other cannabinoids work by interacting with ECS receptors and several other molecular targets throughout the body. Although the study of ECS function is still in its infancy, we do know there are three main components.2

Endocannabinoid System Receptors 

Throughout your body, there are two types of endocannabinoid system receptors. Your CB1 receptors are highly concentrated in your brain and spinal column. These are the receptors most involved in regulating energy levels, metabolism, emotional responses, and memory recall. Your CB2 receptors are highly concentrated in your peripheral nervous system and throughout your immune system.

Endocannabinoid System Messengers 

In the early 1990s, researchers identified two lipids made as needed in your body that interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors, anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Anandamide helps regulate moods, stress responses, and the perception of pleasure and pain. The cannabinoid 2-AG is believed to play an important role in immune system function and appetite regulation.3

Metabolic Enzymes

Your endocannabinoid system also relies on the production of metabolic enzymes that help ensure your ECS messengers are available just long enough to perform their intended function. Once their messages are delivered, anandamide is broken down by amidohydrolase (FAAH). 2-Ag is broken down by two metabolic enzymes, FAAH and MAGL (monoacylglycerol lipase).4

What Is the Purpose of ECS Function? 

Based on what the research shows so far, the main purpose of ECS function is to regulate the processes of homeostasis, the state of internal balance all living organisms must maintain for survival. When internal or external influences threaten that balance, homeostasis accounts for the systemic responses that help reestablish acceptable parameters.5

Although there’s still a lot to learn, we know that ECS signaling is responsible for nearly every crucial function in the human body, from memory, learning, and stress responses, to sleep cycle regulation, cardiovascular function, and reproductive processes. Now that it’s clear that ECS function helps keep essential processes working as they should, some of today’s most respected cannabis researchers suspect that ECS deficiencies cause disease.6

How Does CBD Impact ECS Function?

CBD is pleiotropic, meaning the cannabinoid produces many possible effects through its interaction with multiple pathways, including the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. But unlike THC, which binds directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD has an indirect effect. Although we still don’t know everything about CBD’s impact on ECS function, investigations into the cannabinoid’s therapeutic potential suggest considerable analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and neuroprotective properties explained by its interaction with more than 65 molecular targets.7,8

Although most of the evidence supporting CBD use is based on lab results, a relatively small number of clinical trials, and the testimony of many satisfied CBD users, there’s no denying that hemp-derived CBD has some pretty remarkable health and wellness potential. The impact of supporting ECS function with CBD seems to depend on which crucial processes might be restored to balance (homeostasis) through ECS support.

Why Are People Using CBDistillery® CBD Products? 

There are many reasons to consider adding CBDistillery® tinctures, capsules, gummies, or topicals to your daily routine. Based on the feedback of nearly 2000 CBD users, most people start using our hemp-derived CBD products for better sleep, relaxation, or to ease stiffness, pain, or inflammation after physical activity.

An impressive 88% of our survey respondents also tell us that our hemp-derived products seem to help with mild or temporary anxiety. Although the only way to know how you might personally benefit from any hemp-derived cannabinoid is to select a product and try it, the following observations seem to support the experiences of our 2019 survey respondents.

Possible Benefits for Discomfort 

If you’re looking for help with discomfort after physical activity like our survey respondents, you may find it helpful to know that experts in the field tend to credit the pain-relieving potential of CBD to its impact on anandamide and the ECS receptors regulating inflammation. That bit of information likely explains why 90% of our survey respondents prefer CBD over turmeric, a natural supplement often favored by athletes for post-workout recovery. 9,10

Potential for Soothing Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural response to injury, illness, and stress. Chronic inflammation is most often associated with too little sleep and disorders involving immune system function. The type of inflammation that causes stiffness, swelling, and pain after physical activity is generally caused by the immune system response necessary to help overworked joints and muscles recover. Based on what the research shows so far, CBD shows considerable anti-inflammatory properties.

Potential for Improving Sleep 

While there are many potential causes of poor sleep, many sleep experts blame stress and anxiety for the most common types of sleep difficulties, including difficulty falling asleep and frequent waking. Based on the results of a CBD study published in 2019, current investigations seem to confirm what CBD users have been telling us for years. During the small-scale study involving 72 test subjects, nearly 80% of the study participants reported less anxiety, and close to 70 percent reported better sleep.11

Possible Benefits for Calming Stress

Stress and anxiety are not the same, but they can cause similar physical and emotional responses. The longer your system is stuck in high alert, the more time your body may need to recover. Although more research is needed, a Brazilian study investigating the impact of CBD on public-speaking-related stress shows promising results. Participants receiving CBD reported fewer stress-related symptoms than the control group. Researchers noted similar results in studies exploring the possible impact of CBD on anxiety disorders.9

Are You Ready to Experience Some of the Many Possible Benefits of CBD? 

Knowing that CBD works by interacting with numerous receptors throughout your body, more than 65 molecular targets, makes it that much easier to understand how a single plant element can show such phenomenal health and wellness potential. Based on the feedback of our survey participants, most people report achieving favorable results with 7-14 days of consistent use.

If you’d like to learn more about some of the possible benefits of supporting ECS function with CBD, visit CBDistillery® to download The Ultimate CBD User Guide. Then consider browsing our selection of hemp-derived CBD, CBG, and CBN products. All CBDistillery® products are sourced from non-GMO, naturally cultivated crops, third-party tested, US Hemp Authority™ certified, cruelty-free, and backed by our 60-day satisfaction guarantee.

Additional Sources:

1. Project CBD. (2021) What is CBD?

2. Healthline. C Raypole. (2019 May 17) A Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System.

3. Solar. M Haslam. (2020 April 06) Introducing Anandamide & 2-AG.

4. Protein and Peptide Letters. B Basavarajappa (2007) Critical Enzymes Involved Ind Endocannabinoid Metabolism.

5. Journal of Young Investigators. C Sallaberry, L Astern. (2018 June 01) The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator.

6. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. E Russo. (2016) Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Support the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel, and Other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes.

7. Physiology. Lingresti et al. (2016 September 14) From Phytocannabinoids to Cannabinoid Receptors and Endocannabinoids: Pleiotropic Physiological and Pathological Roles Through Complex Pharmacology.

8. Frontiers in Pharmacology. G Gonzalez-Cuevas et al. (2021 October 18) Editorial: Cannabidiol Treatment in Neurotherapeutic Interventions.

9. Healthline. J Kubala. (2021 November 26) 6 Health Benefits of CBD Oil – and a Look at Side Effects?

10. WellSeek. M Radloff. (2019 May 04) Here’s How Turmeric Can Boost Recovery for Athletes.

11. Healthline. S Ferguson. (2020 May 11) CBD for Insomnia. Benefits, Side Effects, and Treatment.



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