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The scientific answer to the question the title poses is through the endocannabinoid system. Unlike the chemicals found in many pharmaceuticals, the properties in CBD work with your body to naturally help relieve symptoms from a variety of ailments. To understand how CBD works, we first need to understand the endocannabinoid system.
The main job of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain homeostasis within the body. This system is made up of two major receptors: Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2). When CBD and other cannabidiols enter your system, the cell receptors start a cascade of signals within the cell that lead to specific effects on your body. CB1 receptors dominate the Central Nervous System (CNS) and CB2 receptors exist primarily in the peripheral tissues, including the immune system and gastrointestinal system.
CB1 receptors are the most well-known of the endocannabinoid system. These receptors are densely populated in the brain. There are more CB1 receptors in the brain than any other type of G-Protein Coupled Receptors (proteins within the cell membrane that bind extracellular substances and transmit signals, producing reactions). And, despite CB1 being described as the “brain receptor,” it is also found in other areas of the body, including the following tissues: cardiovascular, reproductive, gastrointestinal, and peripheral nerves.
Unlike CB1 receptors, CB2 receptors are evenly distributed throughout the body. CB2 receptors are most common in immune cells and are primarily located in the periphery instead of the CNS. CB2 receptors play an important role in inflammation and our immune response. These receptors are expressed in a variety of cells, including those in the liver and bones. Activating CB1 and CB2 receptors with endocannabinoids causes long or short term changes to the brain by affecting the communication between neurons. Let’s take a look at some of the functions of CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors:
CB1 Receptor Functions:
- Regulates learning & memory
- Improves neuronal development & synaptic plasticity
- Regulates reward & addiction
- Regulates pain
- Regulates neuroinflammation & degeneration
- Regulates metabolism & food intake
- Regulates bone mass
- Regulates cardiovascular function
CB2 Receptor Functions:
- Regulates allergy symptoms & autoimmune disease symptoms
- Combats Osteoporosis (loss of bone mass)
- Regulates neurodegenerative diseases
- Improves Ischemic injury from stroke or heart attack
- Regulates chronic pain
- Regulates hepatic (liver) injury & disease
- Regulates alcohol & nicotine addiction
- Regulates weight
- Improves stress response
CB1 and CB2 receptors are the reasons for the healing effects cannabinoids have on the body. If you’re using CBD products for mood disorders, pain, memory or motor function, you can thank the CB1 receptors. If you’re using cannabis products to aid in moderating inflammation or to combat an overactive immune system (arthritis, asthma, allergies, autoimmune disorders and digestive issues) you can look to your CB2 receptors for your symptom relief.