CBD or cannabidiol is widely known by regular consumers as a pain reliever. Other notable uses are for relief from stress, anxiety, and seizures. While it’s perfectly fine to just know that it can be effective in relieving pain, understanding exactly how it works to get that job done might also interest you.
Cannabidiol is one of the many cannabinoids that can be extracted from the cannabis plant. Although it is closely associated with marijuana, it doesn’t cause a high. This is because this cannabinoid doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is responsible for the high effect that we all know marijuana gives when consumed in whatever way. Click here to find out more about the cannabis plant.
There are two known variants of the cannabis plant. They are the hemp and marijuana plants. Although both these plants have CBD and THC cannabinoids present in them, the concentration of these two cannabinoids differs in each plant. Hemp has a higher concentration of CBD than THC, while marijuana has a higher concentration of THC and a lower concentration of CBD. As a result, cannabidiol is largely extracted from hemp.
Similarities and Differences Between CBD and THC
Both these two cannabinoids interact with the body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in slightly different ways. The ESC was first discovered in the early 1990s by researchers studying THC. The endocannabinoid system is believed to be a very important signaling system in the central nervous system. We’ll dive deeper into the ECS in a minute.
Cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol have the same molecular structure however; the arrangement of their atoms varies slightly. This slight variation is responsible for both these cannabinoids reacting differently with the signaling system.
THC is popularly known for the psychoactive effect it gives the body. This cannabinoid does this by activating the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system. When these two receptors are activated, physiological processes in numerous organ systems are triggered. The most notable of these processes being the release of neurotransmitters from the brain or central nervous system that produces the high effect.
As earlier pointed out, CBD does not cause a high. This is because, unlike THC, it reacts much slower with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Nonetheless, it still activates the physiological effects that THC does with the exemption of a high. Because cannabidiol produces these physiological processes, it is seen by many clinical researchers as a promising chemical compound.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
As earlier mentioned, the ECS is a signaling system in the central nervous system. Unlike other systems like the respiratory and digestive systems in the body, the ECS was only recently discovered in the early 1990s. It exists in mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and is suspected to also be present in some invertebrates.
The ECS is made up of cannabinoid receptors. Although this system spans across the entire body, it is more concentrated in the peripheral and central nervous systems, as well as the immune system. It is known to control several bodily functions like fertility, sleep, pain and pleasure, mood, memory, appetite, and temperature. Visit https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2832623/ to learn about the functions of the ECS.
Components of The Endocannabinoid System
There are three main components of the ECS. They are:
- Cannabinoid receptors
“Endo” in endocannabinoid refers to “endogenous”, which means originating from within. Endocannabinoid is very similar to cannabinoids, most notably CBD and THC that are produced by the cannabis plant. Plant produced cannabinoids are called “phytocannabinoids”, with “phyto” meaning plant. From research so far on this chemical, only two endocannabinoids have been discovered. They are anandamide and 2-arachidonoylgyerol, (2-AG) for short.
These receptors can be found in the nervous and immune systems. Endocannabinoids bind with them to send signals to the ECS. CB1 and CB2 are the two main cannabinoid receptors in the body. CB1 receptors are mostly found in the nervous system while CB2 is found mostly in the peripheral nervous system.
Enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids after they have bonded with the cannabinoid receptors and carried out their functions. This is done to deter excessive build-up of these cannabinoids. The two main enzymes burdened with this task are fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which breaks down anandamide, and monoacylglycerol lipase which breaks down 2-AG.
So How Does CBD Oil Work With the ECS
Many times, when describing the ECS, we tend to forget that regulating the enzymes that break down endocannabinoids is also one of the functions of the endocannabinoid system.
CBD works with the ECS by inhibiting the function of the enzymes responsible for breaking down anandamide. This leads to an increased concentration of anandamide. Anandamide gives a calming effect on the brain whenever it is secreted. Therefore, by inhibiting the FAAH enzymes, cannabidiol helps reduce the perception of pain and anxiety.
As we pointed out how CBD works by inhibiting the action of the FAAH enzyme thereby producing a calm effect on the brain, administering excess CBD oil may become dangerous. Although there isn’t a scientific backing to this, dog owners should err on the side of caution.
The potency of the oil is usually printed on the product as well as instructions for administering them. The dosage administered should be based on the pet’s size and weight. When starting out including CBD oil in your pet’s diet, study how your dog reacts with each dosage and the time it takes for the effect to kick in. If you discover that lower dosages have a little effect, slowly take it up while still taking note of your pet’s reaction.