Commonly Asked Science Questions
- How does CBD work in the body?
The chemical compound is polypharmacological, meaning it affects more than just one part of our bodies at any time. Compared to the THC in cannabis that binds to receptors in your cells and alters your state, the CBD does the opposite. The CBD interacts in several different ways which is part of the reason that it has several different healing properties. The CBD activates different receptors like vanilloid, serotonin, and adenosine receptors. The vanilloid receptors can help to mediate different pain signals in your body. The serotonin receptors will affect and change your mood. The adenosine receptors determine both your sleeping and waking cycle. That is not where this chemical compound stops, it also blocks fatty acids and helps to regulate pleasure functions like memory, pain, reward, appetite, and sleep. The CBD boosts chemical levels in your body and can affect one or more of these functions. So, in layman terms, CBD aids in healing your body without experience the psychoactive effects.
- What is the mechanism by which CBD and THC might affect pain specifically?
Both CBD and THC are called endocannabinoids, and both act as ligands – or chemicals that bind to receptors – at cannabinoid receptors within the central nervous system, according to the article, “The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain,” posted on the National Institutes of Health’s website. The human body contains an endocannabinoid system, which is involved in a host of homeostatic and physiologic functions, including modulation of pain and inflammation. Both THC and CBD stop pain through the endocannabinoid system. This system consists of at least two receptors, termed CB1 and CB2 and are present in every organ, including the skin, and typically found on nerve cells and immune cells in these organs. The endocannabinoid system modulates inflammation and pain and because inflammation may also cause pain, the system affects pain in two ways. CBD binds to a TRPV1 receptor. That TRPV1 receptor has, in turn, a positive influence on the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which is how CBD indirectly mitigates pain. Additionally, TRPV1 is directly related to pain transmission, and thus CBD may influence pain in this direct fashion as well and that is why CBD is considered the more anti-pain compound of the two cannabinoids. Both THC-containing and THC-free CBD have numerous anti-inflammatory effects that can decrease pain by preventing the release of inflammatory signals from B and T immune cells, and have been shown to prevent the development of hyperalgesia, or abnormally increased pain signaling at the site of an injury. CBD has also recently been shown in animal studies to speed the healing of injured connective tissue, and also has numerous anti-anxiety mechanisms, which can indirectly influence pain and pain behavior.