Recently, the world of health treatments has been rocked by the efficacy and potency of cannabidiol and the many CBD-infused products marketed today. While there are indeed a wealth of benefits and virtually no adverse side effects to CBD, there are a few things to know about before making the decision to try out CBD products.
Highlighted below is an overview of what CBD does within the body, how this is beneficial, and how CBD treatment can interfere with other medications. This information is crucial for taking full advantage of CBD and avoiding the potential pitfalls associated with this organic compound.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
CBD is one of over 100 different phytocannabinoids produced within the cannabis family of plants. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was the very first of these compounds to be properly identified in 1964 by Raphael Mechoulam.1
This important find led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) when the first receptors activated by THC were discovered in a rat’s brain a few years later. These were called cannabinoid receptors 1, or CB1.
Since that time, scientists have learned that the endocannabinoid system is present in most animals, with the exception of insects and other invertebrates. It uses locally-produced cannabinoids, or endocannabinoids, metabolic enzymes, and an extensive series of receptors to perform a vital function upon which life and evolution greatly depend.
How the ECS Regulates the Body
The endocannabinoid system presides over homeostasis, which keeps the body’s chemical levels and natural processes operating at a regular level. This is often conducive to feelings of well-being and relaxation.
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This system also regulates body temperature, the experience of hunger and pain, sleeping habits, and even the way individuals experience life and the environment from day-to-day.
The ECS functions like a thermostat, and the receptors scattered across the body monitor and adjust biological activities for ideal conditions at a local level. The endocannabinoids are retrograde messengers which are important for providing feedback and adjusting the natural response to suit the needs of the body at that time.
For example, the inflammatory response is a contingency plan that springs into action and begins to elevate temperatures and alert white blood cells to the potential of bacterial invasion. This is not always an appropriate response and can sometimes hamper the healing process
The ECS can effectively modulate this immune action and reduce inflammation where it is no longer needed, as in the case of muscle strain or inflammatory conditions like arthritis.2
CBD and other phytocannabinoids have a profound impact on the endocannabinoid system due to their molecular structure, which is almost identical to locally produced cannabinoids. The capacity of cannabidiol to boost homeostasis and reduce the symptoms of pain, inflammation, loss of appetite, and anxiety lies in the way it interacts with the ECS.
CBD and ECS Receptors
CBD is the primary constituent of CBD oils and other hemp-derived health products and is not a psychoactive compound. THC is the cannabinoid that provides the signature high, and this has to do with the different ways these two famous cannabinoids interact with the ECS receptors.3
CB1 Receptors are primarily found in the brain, though they can be found in other parts of the body as well, especially the central nervous system (CNS). CB2 receptors are scattered throughout the digestive system, brain, skin, and major organs but are especially present in the structure of the immune system. When the body is injured, there are actually more CBD receptors present in the affected area.4
THC activates CB1 receptors, and this plays a big role in how the brain and nervous system experience their surroundings. This essentially hijacks the body’s awareness and throws perception slightly off-kilter, producing feelings of elation, euphoria, and relaxation.
CBD does not activate either of the ECS receptors. Instead, it activates either TRPV1 vanilloid or adenosine and serotonin receptors, which play a supporting role to the ECS. Through this action, CBD can indirectly affect the way individuals experience the environment and respond to stressors and threats.
TRPV1 vanilloid receptors play a key role in the pain individuals experience and received their names from vanilla, which was an old remedy for fevers. They also adjust body temperatures and affect the inflammatory response.5
Adenosine receptors are located in the brain and play a role in regulating blood flow. These can be affected by CBD to help control inflammation and the stress response. Adenosine receptors also regulate the release of dopamine and glutamate which are also important for maintaining cognitive operations and improving the process of acquiring and storing memory.6
Serotonin receptors can be activated by higher doses of CBD, causing them to increase their activities. Serotonin is also involved with improving appetite, ameliorating pain, improving sleep quality, and regulating anxiety. Through the stimulation of CBD, these processes are optimized.7
Can CBD Interact With Other Drugs?
CBD has been found safe for use and has not been associated with side effects even after long periods of consumption. Nevertheless, those who will be considering CBD treatment as a potential solution to health conditions should be aware of one important risk.
CBD could inhibit the cytochrome P450 enzyme which works in the liver to metabolize potentially harmful compounds. This enzyme is also essential for properly processing almost 60 percent of medications, including regular pain meds, blood thinners, and vital HIV antivirals.
There are other herbal medications and common foods that have a similar effect. Watercress and grapefruit can have a similar interaction with drugs, albeit to a smaller degree than CBD.
CBD also has possible interactions with alcohol and caffeine introduced into the body. CBD may effectively lower alcohol levels in the blood, though intoxication will remain unchanged. Furthermore, CBD prolongs the effects of caffeine, which has actually led to the creation of CBD-infused coffee which has a longer lasting effect than regular Joe.8
Although CBD is completely natural and highly effective in addressing some of today’s most pressing health concerns, like stress, chronic inflammation and a wide spectrum of painful conditions, it is still a medication. Therefore, any plan to improve health or counter unpleasant conditions will be more effective with qualified supervision. Be sure to consult your medical provider for more information on treatments with CBD.
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