For those new to CBD, it can sound too good to be true. How can CBD help with everything from better sleep, to improving your mental focus, to alleviating sore muscles, to relief from PTSD? Taking CBD gives you a boost of cannabinoids that are already being naturally made in your body, then are used by your body’s internal system of receptors to self-regulate responses to triggers like pain, anxiety, stress, and also maintain general homeostasis in the body. The receptors in your Endocannabinoid system tie together and affect multiple dimensions of your body, including your immune system, brain and endocrine system.
In the past decade, the Endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been found to be involved in a growing number of physiological functions, both in the central and peripheral nervous systems and in peripheral organs. More importantly, modulating the activity of the Endocannabinoid system turned out to hold therapeutic promise for a wide range of diseases and conditions, ranging from mild to debilitating.
The ECS and its impact on the body is a fairly recent discovery, but has quickly become widely recognized as a key system that impacts our overall health and well being, as well as linking together specific issues in the body (good and bad).
The natural chemicals produced by the body that interact within the Endocannabinoid system are called cannabinoids, and they interact with receptors to regulate important body functions.
How Cannabinoids Work Differently From Other Neurotransmitters
Brain cells (neurons) communicate with each other and with the rest of the body by sending chemical “messages.” These messages help coordinate and regulate everything we feel, think, and do. Typically, the chemicals (called neurotransmitters) are released from a neuron (a presynaptic cell), travel across a small gap (the synapse), and then attach to specific receptors located on a nearby neuron (postsynaptic cell). This spurs the receiving neuron into action, triggering a set of events that allows the message to be passed along.
But the Endocannabinoid system communicates its messages in a different way because it works “backward.” When the postsynaptic neuron is activated, cannabinoids (chemical messengers of the ECS) are made “on demand” from lipid precursors (fat cells) already present in the neuron. Then they are released from that cell and travel backward to the presynaptic neuron, where they attach to cannabinoid receptors.
So why is this important? Since cannabinoids act on presynaptic cells, they can control what happens next when these cells are activated. In general, cannabinoids function like a “dimmer switch” for presynaptic neurons, limiting the amount of neurotransmitter that gets released, which in turn affects how messages are sent, received, and processed by the cell.
As an example, for pain relief, cannabinoids inhibit the release of neurotransmitters from presynaptic nerve endings, modulate excitability of postsynaptic neurons, reduce neural inflammation, and activate descending inhibitory pain pathways. All of this happens behind the scenes, and reduces your body’s feelings of pain without you even knowing.
By introducing plant-based phytocannabinoids, like CBD, into your body in addition to cannabinoids that are being produced naturally, your body will have cannabinoids readily available whenever they are called for “on demand”. The body will not have to work as hard to supply the cannabinoids called for, and they will go to work more quickly because they’re already available.
Have more questions about how CBD works? Contact us anytime…we are here to help, and we love talking about the science behind CBD!