Along with the increasing legalization of Cannabis and the ensuing manufacturing and marketing frenzy, its main non-psychoactive constituent, cannabidiol (CBD) achieved instant celebrity status. A flood of claims attribute a seemingly endless list of purported health benefits with virtually no downside. This may leave you wondering, “how does CBD work with the body?”
While preliminary evidence indicates that cannabinoids may, indeed, prove extremely beneficial for health on a number of levels, it’s worth taking stock of the fact that we don’t know all of the how’s or why’s, just yet. What we do know is that cannabinoids, including CBD, play a role in the endocannabinoid system, a regulatory system in the mammalian body.
Let’s get to know this complex system and how it works with cannabinoids.
How CBD Works in the Body: A Brief Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System
Scientists discovered the endocannabinoid system in the mid-1990’s, when Israeli chemist and professor, Raphael Mechoulam, sought to understand how THC affects the body. While he was initially interested in the psychoactive compound of the hemp plant, which started in the 1960’s. This sent him onto a revolutionary discovery that earned him the title “father of cannabis research.” Today, Dr. Mechoulam’s research still shapes the CBD industry.
Yet, despite the ECS’s potential contribution to healthcare, the research still has not made its way to conventional biology textbooks, but new discoveries about its function are continuously emerging in scientific journals.
To this date, we understand the endocannabinoid system (ECS) as a complex cell-signaling system that contains a group of endogenous receptors located in the mammalian brain throughout the central and peripheral nervous system.
It contains cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors, primarily CB1 and CB2, which fit together like a lock and key to promote homeostasis in the body—as well as metabolic enzymes to break down the cannabinoids once the body gets what it needs from them.
To make it simpler to explain to your clients, we’ve provided this endocannabinoid system infographic below. Feel free to print it out and hang it in your office.
Using CBD in Topicals
Cannabidiol has shown promising results as an ingredient in topical formulations. Since CBD contains omega-3 fatty acids, it serves as an excellent skin conditioner. The natural oils penetrate the skin without entering the bloodstream, unlike oral and inhaled cannabinoids. But even if it did enter the bloodstream, there is no need to worry. CBD’s lack of psychoactivity and legal status makes it a great choice for your patients who are seeking to live a more natural lifestyle.