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CBD’s Healing Properties: How Do They Work?

Cannabidiol, commonly abbreviated as CBD, comes from the hemp plant. Unlike THC, cannabidiol doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects, but has many healing properties. CBD can be used as an anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, and as an antioxidant. Therefore, the oil can potentially be used to treat epilepsy, nausea, anxiety, insomnia and more.

How does it work? Humans have two cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), which THC binds to in order to produce marijuana’s psychoactive effects. However, CBD doesn’t bind very well to CB1 and CB2, and instead activates several other receptors and ion channels in the human body. Additionally, CBD can affect other channels by delaying the “reuptake” of neurotransmitters (this is how many antidepressants work) or enhancing the ability of certain receptors to bind proteins.

Serotonin receptors are most commonly known for their role in depression but affect a wide range of processes in the human body including sleep, pain, addiction and nausea. CBD has a strong affinity for the serotonin receptor and slows down signaling which results in a relaxed response in comparison to drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms which activate the receptors and produces an excitatory, hallucinogenic response.

CBD also binds to receptors such as the TRPV1 receptor which helps regulate pain perception, body temperature and inflammation. This receptor also binds vanilla because it contains eugenol which may be the basis for the old folk cure of eating a vanilla bean for a headache. CBD stimulates the TRPV1 receptor which is probably why it can be used as an effective way to treat pain.

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In addition to activating receptors, CBD can inhibit reuptake of certain neurotransmitters. CBD competes with other molecules in the human body which eventually raises the level of endocannabinoid levels in the human brain’s synapses (according to research performed at Stony Brook University). This “flooding” of the synapses may be essential to how CBD seems to work against epilepsy and seizures. Additionally, these blockages contribute to the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD by blocking adenosine reuptake. This boosts adenosine levels in the brain which increases receptor activity. Adenosine receptors regulate cardiovascular activities and blood flow.

Even though not all of CBD’s effects are understood, research indicates that CBD is more than “snake oil” due to its established and observed chemical properties. The fact that CBD is able to modify receptors, block reuptake of certain neurotransmitters, and change the shape of protein receptors by attachment suggests that CBD can be useful in treating a broad range of diseases. This is mostly because the receptors that CBD is most able to modify are part of the endocannabinoid system which, among many other processes, regulates pain perception and inflammation.

The endocannabinoid system exists to bring the body back to a state of equilibrium in a time of stress and helps keep functions such as sleep, appetite, and immune responses in balance. Pain and inflammation also happen to be two of the most common symptoms of a multitude of diseases, making CBD especially well-suited to help people deal with a wide variety of pain, discomfort, and chronic illnesses.

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