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How does CBD Work in the Human Body?

CBD For Human Body

How does CBD work?

A lot has been made of CBD as the new “wonder” supplement, which can assist us with pain, mood, stress, anxiety, and even sleep management. But how does CBD affect our bodies and our minds? What is the science behind the interaction of CBD and human biology, and how does CBD work, if at all? Our CBD101 guide explores this fascinating new scientific area.

What does “Being Healthy” actually mean?

Our bodies have their own cycles and rhythms and are constantly changing. Minor changes are optimal and a normal part of daily functioning; they suggest that our bodies are adequately managing any infections, environmental changes, and biological processes. Minor changes indicate that the body is staying within homeostasis–the body’s dynamic, self-regulatory system which helps us to maintain good health and fight off disease and infection. Big changes are not ideal; they suggest something has gone wrong somewhere. For example, compare the difference in how you feel on a typical day with a day when you’ve got the flu. These are very different experiences of the same body–one is an experience of good homeostasis, the other is the experience of a body fighting to get its healthy balance back–it’s homeostasis.

Any change to the physiology of our bodies can have an impact on the homeostasis of our bodies. This impact can be felt across many different body regulatory systems, not just the obvious one. Think of how you can have a fever and a blocked or runny nose and feel fatigued when you have the flu–that’s more than one regulatory system working to get back to homeostasis. One of the essential physiological factors in the regulation of human homeostasis is the endocannabinoid system. It is this system the CBD works directly on and why CBD has the effect that it does on our bodies.

The Endogenous Cannabinoid System

The endogenous cannabinoid system or endocannabinoid system is arguably the most important physiological system for maintaining a person’s health and homeostasis. Endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid receptors are found in every tissue in the human body, from the brain to the immune system, through various tissues and glands. Although the endocannabinoids at these different sites may perform different tasks, they all have a common goal–preserving the body’s balance and maintaining homeostasis.

In simple terms, there are three essential components to the endocannabinoid system: Endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. These function in different ways allowing CBD (and other cannabinoids) we introduce to the human body to have the characteristic effects. This system has a complex set of interactions with every other physiological system, organ, and function in the body. It has been theorized that there are more of these endocannabinoid receptors in the human body than any other kind of receptor, suggesting the importance of their role in maintaining our homeostatic balance.

For example, our body makes an endocannabinoid called Anandamide or, more colloquially, “The Bliss Molecule.” This molecule plays a role in the positive feelings associated with physical fitness (a “runner’s high,” for example). As Anandamide is metabolized by the body, the pleasant feeling of the “runner’s high” dissipates. Endocannabinoids can also be found at points of injury, stabilizing nerve cells and regulating the injured tissues at the site. Basically, when something goes wrong with your body (for example, the injury listed above), endocannabinoids travel to the endocannabinoid receptors at the location to assist the body to return to homeostasis.

How does CBD work on the endocannabinoid system?

The interesting thing about cannabidiol (CBD) is that it doesn’t bond to the two main endocannabinoid receptors found throughout the body, CB1, and CB2. In fact, CBD seems to do something very different–it slows down the metabolism of endocannabinoids, thereby allowing the body to work more efficiently with them. When the body uses its endocannabinoids more effectively and more efficiently, it has a great ability to support homeostasis. 

CBD works on other receptors, too, not just the CB1 and CB2 sites. For example, CBD plays well with Dopamine receptors, playing a role in the regulation of our moods and feelings of well being; similarly, CBD interacts with Serotonin receptors, again impacting moods and anxiety; and lastly, it interacts with the natural human opioid receptors to regulate pain and our experience of pain.

At the level of our present understanding and research into how CBD works with human physiology the science seems to indicate that CBD can play an important role in a host of physiological systems: Appetite, heart function, chronic pain management, inflammation, immune disease, liver function, mood regulation, sleep, and anxiety and stress regulation, to name only a few. 

Although the research into cannabis and CBD is still at an early stage of its development, we think you’ll agree that we are only now coming to grips with both the human endocannabinoid system and the effects ingested cannabinoids (CBD and others) have on this system and on our homeostasis. More work must surely be done on how CBD works in the body and the mind, but the future of this research and its benefits looks promising.

How CBD works-endocannabinoids | Soulsome cold-pressed CBD
How CBD works – The Endocannabinoid System | Soulsome cold-pressed CBD

How long will it take CBD to work?

This is one of the most common questions asked about CBD. The short answer is that a number of factors impact the time it takes for CBD to work as each body and human physiology is unique. 

Several factors come into play when answering the question:

How long it takes CBD to work depends on your method of ingestion. For example, CBD, which is swallowed (eaten in gummy form or swallowed in drink form, for example), must first pass through the digestive system. This is probably the slowest way of getting CBD into the bloodstream and is dependent on metabolism and at what time of day the CBD is ingested (e.g., after a meal may take longer than first thing in the morning before your breakfast). Smoking CBD is probably the fastest method as it moves from the lungs directly to the bloodstream. However, there are obvious dangers and hazards associated with smoking anything, which makes this method of ingestion less than optimal. We recommend that Soulsome cold-pressed CBD oil be taken sublingually–a few drops under the tongue–where the sublingual tissues absorb it and send it directly to the bloodstream, a reasonably quick (20-30mins) process, again dependent on your specific physiology.

A second factor to consider is how strong a dose of CBD you prefer to take, as well as how often you repeat the dose. This can directly affect how you feel under CBD. For example, a regularly repeated (for example, three times per day) high-strength dose of CBD oil is likely to have a substantial effect on the user, most likely making them feel drowsy. On the other hand, a lighter dose, repeated less frequently (for example, once per day), is likely to have a different effect, one which is less “drowsy” and more “focused.” Because each physiology and, therefore, each endocannabinoid system is unique, a little trial-and-error experimentation is required when first starting to take CBD to ascertain your ideal dose for your specific needs. We would suggest that you also ensure that your CBD comes from a reputable source, a manufacturer that produces premium-grade, highly consistent CBD oil. Using CBD oil that is not of consistent quality from one bottle to the next will create unpredictable and possibly even unmanageable results for you. Do exercise caution when selecting a reputable CBD manufacturer, and ensure that they are committed to creating a product of reliable and consistent quality that you can trust.

With this in mind, Soulsome always recommends that you discuss your specific healthcare needs with your physician or preferred healthcare professional to guide you in the best use of CBD, most appropriate for your case. You may find that CBD is not, in fact, the solution you need and that there is a better treatment option available. In any event, do speak with a doctor before taking CBD to ensure you are using it appropriately and responsibly. Working closely with your doctor can help you manage doses, side effects, and any changes you may notice while using CBD. Ultimately, how CBD works for you will be a unique case that is best managed within the care of a healthcare professional’s expert guidance.


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