Photo by Esteban Lopez


Over time, cannabis has become increasingly popular due of the numerous benefits that have been associated with its use. Even with the restrictions on the use, sales and distribution of cannabis, its users still enjoy numerous benefits.

Cannabis plant contains a variety of active compounds. These active compounds are known to include terpenes, cannabidiol otherwise known as CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol otherwise known as THC. This article covers CBD, a notable active compound in cannabis plant highlighting its features and how it interacts with the different components of the body.

What is CBD?

As highlighted above, CBD is an active compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD is also found in hemp plants. These active compounds in cannabis and hemp plants are known as cannabinoids.

Cannabis has two major cannabinoids, tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. Tetrahydrocannabinol is more popular than cannabidiol and produces different effects on the body which include pain relief and psychoactive effects.

How CBD interacts with the human body

Photo by Amarnath Tade

The human body has different systems that coordinate different types of activities. There is the digestive system which ensures that food taken in are properly broken down and absorbed to nourish the body. There is also the nervous system which coordinates the activities of different systems as well as interactions with the environment.

Research has established that there is an endocannabinoid system in the body of humans, and the interaction of CBD, as well as other cannabinoids with components of the endocannabinoid system, lead to their different effects.

Components of the endocannabinoid system include receptors such as CBD1 and CBD2. The endocannabinoid system exists because the body produces endocannabinoids which interact with these receptors.

CBD interacts with the two major receptors of the endocannabinoid system, CBD1, and CBD2 differently, the basics of some of its actions in the different parts of the body. It is important to mention that CBD has a lower affinity to these receptors than THC and the endocannabinoids produced within the body. It has been established that the major consequence of the interaction between CBD and the CBD1 and CBD2 receptors is the modulation of the hyperactivity of THC. THC is known for highly psychoactive effects.

Apart from the receptors of the endocannabinoid system, CBD also interacts with other components such as hormones and signaling pathways.

CBD is also known to interact with the serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a major neurotransmitter that modulates behaviors. When serotonin is released from the ends of neurons into the synaptic cleft, it causes good moods. However, serotonin only acts for a limited period. When CBD interacts with the serotonin receptors, it causes the release of serotonin.

Serotonin is also known as 5-, and its receptors are part of a group known as the 5-HT receptors. The specific receptor which CBD binds to is the 5-HT1A, a member of the 5-HT receptor family. The interaction between the serotonin receptor and CBD has thus indicated that CBD can serve as a therapeutic agent for managing anxiety and insomnia amongst other conditions.

Vanilloid receptors are another group of receptors that can interact with CBD. Examples of vanilloid receptors include TRPV1. TRPV1 is an ion channel receptor that modulates processes such as thermoregulation.

The interaction of CBD with enzymes can directly or indirectly affect bodily functions. CBD interacts with a major enzyme that regulates the activities of the endocannabinoid system. This enzyme is known as fatty acids amide hydrolase. Fatty acid amide hydrolase is an enzyme that is responsible for breaking down an endogenous cannabinoid known as anandamide. The hydrolysis of this endocannabinoid makes its action shortlived. CBD counters the effects of fatty acid amide hydrolase by acting as an inhibitor. The inhibition effect of CBD thus increases the activity of the endogenous cannabinoids in the body resulting in positive effects.

CBD also has an inhibitory effect on another substance involved in the metabolism of anandamide. This substance is known as a fatty acid-binding protein. The role of this protein is to transfer the metabolized anandamide from the metabolizing compartment. As CBD inhibits this action, it leads to improved effects of anandamide which has positive effects on systems of the body such as the immune and nervous systems.

Research has established the mechanisms mentioned above, amongst others, as the ways which CBD reacts with the body. The numerous benefits of CBD are thus are a result of its interaction with components of the endocannabinoid system, and these effects could be direct or indirect.

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