What Does CBD Do: How Cannabidiol Exerts Its Benefits By Triggering the Bliss Molecule

What Does CBD Do: How Cannabidiol Exerts Its Benefits By Triggering the Bliss Molecule

By Dagmara Mach

Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is a popular natural remedy. Used increasingly for a variety of common ailments, both human and dog, CBD products can now be found everywhere from Walgreens to your grandma’s medicine cabinet. Studies have linked CBD use to reductions in pain, improvements in sleep, alleviation of stress, and more. It can be consumed for everyday wellness, self-care, and healing to help one live better and feel better.


Most CBD oil is derived from the hemp plant. Unlike its cousin marijuana, hemp contains no more than 0.3% THC, an amount that does not make you high. (THC is the cannabis compound in marijuana that induces euphoria.)


In December of 2018, Congress passed the Farm Bill, which nationally legalized hemp. Since the passing of this bill, both the number of CBD products on shelves and the number of studies examining CBD’s wide array of therapeutic and wellness benefits have exploded. The National Institute of Health even contributed $16 million dollars to CBD research in 2018, compared to zero dollars in 2014. In September of 2019, the NIH announced an additional $3 million dollars in nine new CBD research awards, helping to further hemp awareness and legitimize the use of CBD products.


What Is CBD and How Does It Work?


From a fringe fascination to mainstream panacea, CBD has taken the world by storm. Purported to cure an astounding number of ailments from stress and sleep problems to pain and inflammation. CBD appears to exert the majority of its wide array of whole-body health benefits through a unique mechanism that increases levels of our own body-made joy molecule anandamide. Phytochemically diverse, the hemp plant abounds in a variety of active compounds with potential therapeutic benefits.

 

CBD is the main active ingredient in the hemp plant, which is the name given to high CBD and low THC Cannabis Sativa strains. Unlike high THC strains, hemp products do not produce the high feeling and euphoria one gets with marijuana. CBD and THC are just two of over one hundred chemical compounds known as phyto or plant-based cannabinoids. Similar to the endocannabinoids produced by our own bodies, CBD and other phytocannabinoids like CBG or CBN exert their therapeutic effects by interacting with our endocannabinoid system. 


The endocannabinoid system is a body-wide communication network responsible for maintaining biological harmony in response to changes in our internal and external environments. Through its interactions with the endocannabinoid system, CBD helps the body achieve homeostasis, or equilibrium, across all of its many varied parts. For example, one 2014 study found that CBD can reduce inflammation in and prevent sebocyte cells from creating too much of the oily sebum that often leads to acne. 


The endocannabinoid system is comprised of endocannabinoid receptors, the endocannabinoids or body made cannabinoids like anandamide and 2-AG that bind to these receptors, and the enzymes that help build and breakdown the endocannabinoids. Because the endocannabinoid system is located throughout the body, endocannabinoids are created and broken down when and where they are needed for action. 

 

 

Endocannabinoids are likely one of the most widespread and versatile signaling molecules known to man. Due to the endocannabinoid system’s presence throughout the body, it is involved in all biological functions including those related to mood, sleep, pain, stress, hormone balance, appetite, sleep, metabolism, and immunity. By exerting effects on this system, CBD is thus able to help provide functional support to an impressive variety of beneficial effects on the body. 


Unlike THC which has an affinity for and binds to cannabinoid receptors, research suggests that CBD has a low binding affinity for cannabinoid receptors and instead exerts its benefits by acting on another part of the endocannabinoid system. Studies show that rather than occupying endocannabinoid receptor sites, CBD affects the enzymes responsible for breaking down the endocannabinoid anandamide, known as “the bliss molecule.” Its therapeutic actions are thus mainly due to inhibiting the enzymatic breakdown of anandamide, resulting in higher levels of anandamide in the body. 


Anandamide, known as the bliss or joy molecule, is one of two main body-made cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. Cannabinoids are ligands or molecules that bind to other molecules. Incredibly versatile in it’s actions, anandamide is involved in both major brain and physiological processes across every system in our body. These include memory, motivation, cognitive processes, movement control, pain, appetite, pleasure, reward, sleep, and more. 


Research is continuing to produce evidence of CBD’s beneficial effects, including its strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anxiolytic, and analgesic components. CBD has been shown to facilitate positive mood states and reduce stress by alleviating cortisol in the body. One study of rats showed that intravenous anandamide activated dopaminergic transmission resulting in increased extracellular levels of dopamine. Mounting revelations into how CBD exerts its positive effects are leading researchers to investigate an ever-increasing number of potential therapeutic uses.


Project CBD has compiled peer-reviewed research on over 40 conditions that CBD may potentially help. These include ADD and ADHD, Addiction and Alcoholism, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Antibiotic Resistance, Anxiety, Arthritis, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Breathing Problems, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression, Diabetes, Digestive and Bowel Disorders, Endocrine Disorders, Endometriosis, Epilepsy and Seizures, Fibromyalgia, Glaucoma, Headaches and Migraines, Heart Disease, Immune Function, Inflammation, Kidney and Bladder Issues, Liver Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Nausea, Neurodegenerative Diseases, Obesity, Weight Loss, Osteoporosis, Pain, Parkinson’s Disease, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Prion Disease, Schizophrenia and Psychosis, Aging, Skin Problems, Sleep Problems, Stress, Stroke and Brain Injuries, and overall wellness. 


When buying a CBD product, it’s important to make sure that the product actually contains CBD. Because most states don’t require testing like Colorado and companies are not always honest, it’s very difficult for consumers to confirm that products are accurately labeled. In 2017, a Penn Medicine study found that 30% of 84 CBD extracts purchased online contained an actual CBD content that was within 10 percent of the amount listed on the product label. 


Stress, poor diet, and illness can throw our systems out of whack. CBD can positively interact with our endocannabinoid system, potentially helping to correct imbalances in everything from our brain and organs to our immune and digestive systems.

 



 

Human studies show that CBD can generally be consumed in doses up to 1500 mg per day with few to no negative side effects. In November 2017 the World Health Organization released a report stating that CBD does not have any adverse side effects and is well tolerated in both humans and animals. CBD is widely accepted to help relieve pain, ease stress, and act as a sleep aid. It’s important to experiment with dosage and method of consumption at home to know what doses are right for you in specific needs.


Because CBD is unregulated and purity testing is not required, some CBD products may be tainted by solvents, pesticides, bacteria, heavy metals, or any number of other contaminants which may cause unexpected negative side effects. Ned’s products are all tested for purity by a third-party laboratory so you can shop with confidence knowing you’re getting the highest quality  CBD products.

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