Endocannabinoid System Science Scientific Terms

What Is The Endocannabinoid System, Part 2 | CBD and the ECS

How does CBD affect the ECS?

Cannabidiol is an organic compound that has an affinity for receptors in the mammalian body, including CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system.  It is a main constituent of all three species of Cannabis and is responsible for a plethora of the therapeutic and medical applications of the cannabis plant.  Specifically, it is a partial antagonist of both kinds of cannabinoid receptors, which means it affects the receptors’ ability to react with other chemicals such as THC.   Depending what system of the body this is taking place within, different physiological effects are produced. You can learn more about the ECS here.

CBD in the immune system

CBD’s action on CB2 receptors produces many of its effects throughout the body.  For example, when CBD is bound to CB2 receptors in immune system cells, it pushes the cell to perform more functions of immunity, like secreting protective enzymes and mobilizing defense cells.   By inhibiting the checks and balances that slow signals between T-cells, B-cells, and macrophages that remove toxins and help to heal injuries, CBD triggers them to migrate toward an enemy substance in the body with more aggression.

Some of the hormones and enzymes that CBD up-regulates also promote secondary actions of their own.  One of these processes is called apoptosis.  As a cell ages, identifying marker molecules begin to appear on its surface.  Once there are enough of them, immune cells migrate toward it and absorb it to redistribute its parts to newer, healthier cells.  CBD increases the rate at which cells produce the markers, and also increases the receptibility of immune cells to their presence.

By promoting both apoptosis and and immunomigration, CBD actually encourages the body to attack cancer cells and other infections or diseases with up to 25 times the strength.  This helps you feel better by actually improving your health rather than simply masking a symptom.

CBD in the brain

CBD shows affinity for serotonin receptors, and this is believed to contribute to the anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties of Cannabis, in addition to several of it’s other mood-calming powers.  CBD has two actions on the serotonin system in the brain.  First, it mimics the effect of serotonin, which is to calm and suppress the fear center of the brain, and boosts the presence of serotonin. Second, through action on CB1 receptors in serotonin-heavy parts of the brain, it boosts the brain’s production of serotonin.  This has a profound balancing effect that can last for months after CBD has been removed from the brain.

Another system that CBD can exert an effect on is PPAR receptors in brain cells.  These are gene-regulating receptors that are involved in the secretion of the plaque that is a primary factor of Alzheimer’s disease.  When they are deactivated or blocked, the plaque can develop, and several other systems are impeded; malfunction of these receptors is connected to schizophrenia.  This same receptor is present throughout the body, and it regulates COX-2 enzymes, which are the enzymes that produce inflammatory substances at the site of injury or infection.  Common drugs like Motrin® inhibit COX-2 in order to prevent inflammation.

Hundreds of different cell types throughout the body are affected by the ECS.  Cannabinoid receptors modulate energy consumption and neurotransmitter transport, and this has a wide array of effects depending on specific cell function.  In this way, the ECS controls activity across many complex systems.

Keep Reading | Endocannabinoid System: Part 3