How CBD works in the body

The 'sciency bit'

Last updated: 17.02.2021

Numerous medical effects are attributed to cannabidiol, which is more commonly known as CBD.

The precise mode of action of the cannabinoid needs further research. However, scientific studies and field reports indicate various potential pharmacological areas of application.

Clinical trials are still somewhat limited in the world of CBD. We find this bizarre, given the evidence there is to suggest this substance can offer amazing benefits. The FDA (food and drug administration) did ease the regulatory requirements in 2015 for CBD trials, but we are yet to see the conventional world of medicine truly embrace CBD.

To understand how CBD works, we look at what actually happens in the body when taking CBD. And how the different ways of taking it can change the effects this amazing substance has on the human body.

We appreciate the full science isn't for everyone, so we've tried to keep it relatively simple. For those of you who wish to delve a little deeper into the science of CBD... read on!

How CBD works in the body

How does CBD work in the body... in a nutshell

  • CBD has no psychoactive effects. It docks on receptors in the nervous system and can therefore regulate bodily processes.
  • CBD has the fastest effect when taken via the bloodstream (immediately to a few minutes). The most common method is dropping oil under the tongue.
  • CBD only takes about an hour to work through food intake.
  • CBD works for between 4-8 hours, depending on the quality of the product, dosage, type of intake and individual body condition.

A quick reminder... what is CBD?

The phytocannabinoid CBD is substance that is extracted from the hemp plant. It is also sometimes referred to as medical cannabis or medical marijuana. However, this can be misleading and can cause people to be wary of CBD products. This is because people often associate CBD with its psychoactive counterpart, THC. Illegal and recreational cannabis, marijuana or 'pot' has a high THC content and this is the substance that gets you 'high'. CBD does not.

CBD has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, as well as therapeutic effects.

It is often described by users as a miracle cure, with sufferers of various conditions finding relief where conventional medicine has failed them. CBD has been reported to help with a number of ailments.

10 benefits and uses of CBD

CBD-helps-child-with-epileptic-seizures
Interesting fact: Epidiolex - a drug used in the treatment of epilepsyi s the first and approved prescription CBD. This demonstrates professionals do know of the benefits CBD can offer - why isn't there more prescription CBD available?

1. Neuropathic pain/Chronic pain

2. Cancer/Cancer related symptoms

3. Acne

4. Alzheimer's disease

5. Parkinsons

6. Multiple sclerosis

7. Arthritis

8. Anxiety and depression

9. Insomnia

10. Epilepsy (such as lennox-gastaut syndrome and dravet syndrome)

There is a certain resistance to the acceptance of CBD in the medical world, although we are unsure why. Perhaps the stigma attached to it is still too great, or perhaps there isn't a great deal of monetary value in it for pharmacutical companies. Whatever the reason, due to the success stories reported from users, CBD has taken the world by storm.

We are certainly seeing more positive reactions towards CBD - noteably in America, where more and more polititians are voting in favour of legalising medical cannabis. We keep our fingers crossed for progress in the coming years. In the meantime, we'll keep sharing those success stories!

The effect of CBD on nerve receptors

The cannabis plant is a real marvel. It consists of over 500 vegetable substances. These contain 85 cannabinoids. Cannabinoids belong to the group called 'terpene phenols'. They have never been discovered in any other plant in the world.

Cannabinoids can have very different pharmacological effects. The best known cannabinoids are (and apologies in advance for loads of acronyms!) THC, THCV and CBD. But other cannabinoids, such as CBG, CBC, CBN or CBL, are also receiving increasing attention for potential medical use.

Surprisingly, although the hemp plant has been used as a medicinal and food product for centuries, medical research on cannabinoids is still in its infancy.

When the effects of THC on the body were first researched in the 1940s, nerve receptors were discovered. THC connects to these in order to develop their typical psychoactive effects. The most important cannabinoid receptors, which are primarily found in the central nervous system, are called Cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid 2 (CB2).

CBD also connects to nerve receptors. However, it has no psychoactive effect.

cbd-nerve-receptors
When the effects of THC on the body were first researched in the 1940s, nerve receptors were discovered.

The endocannabinoid system

To really understand how CBD works in the body, you have to take a closer look at the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS influences the nervous system by regulating various processes in the body. This works via neurotransmitters (i.e. messenger substances), with which information is exchanged between nerve receptors.

In this way, the ECS controls the development and transmission of sensations such as fear, pain, love, joy or restlessness.

How does CBD work? The endocannabinoid system can be influenced by chemical or vegetable substances such as CBD. CBD docks on receptors of the nervous system and can thus regulate body processes decisively.

CBD and receptors

The "communication" between the nerve cells takes place via messenger substances. If the body gets out of balance, messenger substances are released. Here CBD can regulate the exchange of information.

The process can be compared to an electrical circuit: the transmitter transmits a messenger substance that the receptor receives. CBD can interrupt the "circuit" on the transmitter, on the receptor or on the go.

For example, pain can be alleviated by blocking the receptor. So even if pain is transmitted via a messenger substance, the receptor cannot receive this message. In a similar fashion, CBD can regulate the following receptors:

  • CB1 receptor: These are located in the brain and intestines. They influence physical feelings like pain, emotions like fear and stress, and also learning processes and the musculoskeletal system.
  • CB2 receptor: The CB2 receptors are located in the bone cells and are involved in the healing processes of some bone and nerve diseases.

Similarly, CBD (and other substances) can enhance the transmission of messages around the body. In this manner, CBD can regulate additional receptors, such as:

  • Vanilloid receptors (types 1 and 2): CBD stimulates these receptors and can thus contribute to an analgesic effect (Bisogno et al. 2001). The proliferation of brain tumour cells can also be inhibited.
  • HT1A serotonin receptor: This is responsible for the acceptance of serotonin, the "happiness hormone". It affects depression but also learning skills.

By docking to receptors, CBD can animate the natural healing process and can support natural balance (homeostasis) through its diverse modes of action.

How long and how quickly does CBD work in the body?

How long and how quickly CBD works for depends on the quality of the cbd product, the type of consumption, the dosage and the physical conditions. Typically, the effects can last between 4-8 hours.

The most popular way to take CBD is by sublingual intake, where CBD is applied as an oil under the tongue. In this way, CBD can work within a few minutes.

When smoking CBD crystals or vaping CBD liquid, the CBD gets directly into the blood through the lungs and works almost immediately.

You can also take CBD as a dietary supplement, for example as tea, gummy bears or chocolate. The duration of action may vary depending on whether it is taken on an empty or full stomach. Others CBD products are also available, such as topical creams and balms. In fact, as the world of CBD expands, the range of products is become quite impressive, and sometimes bizarre! Always check the ingredients and the amount of CBD - some of these products can be gimmicks and sometimes contain no CBD at all.

When eaten, it can take around 1 hour for the effects of CBD to be felt. Although it takes longer to feel the effect, the advantage of eating or drinking CBD is that the effect can last the longest, typically between 6-8 hours.

Ingestion may also be better for people who don't like the somewhat bitter taste of CBD oil under the tongue.

Does CBD cause any side effects?

One of the many benefits of CBD, is that the side effects reported are relatively few and minor. This is especially in comparison to some conventional medications that have have quite drastic and unwanted effects. For example, the medication such as opioid painkillers, antidepressants or anti-psychotics

Even so, side effects do get reported. Here are some of the more common ones:

  • Fatigue or drowsiness- subjects sometimes report a slightly sedative effect.
  • Diarrhoea - after consuming very high amounts of CBD oil, indigestion has been reported sporadically.
  • Appetite - there have been isolated reports of a change in appetite.
  • Slight dizziness or light-headedness - CBD oil can cause a temporary small drop in blood pressure.
  • Dry mouth - as with other cannabinoids, saliva production can be temporarily reduced. The mouth can feel dry and cause thirst.
  • Increased tremor in Parkinson's patients - early studies suggest that CBD oil could worsen tremor and muscle movement in people with Parkinson's disease.
  • Inhibition of P540 enzymes - important for possible interactions with certain drugs.
  • Intraocular pressure for those with glaucoma - people with glaucoma should avoid CBD oil as it may increase intraocular pressure.

How does CBD work best?

The CBD works best when it gets directly into the bloodstream. This can be done intravenously or through the mucous membranes. In both cases, the effects begin almost immediately or within a few minutes. If you are a CBD newbie, do take care with the amount of CBD you start with. It is always best to start with a low dose and work your way up. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find the product and the dosage for you that's right for you.

CBD oil

CBD oil is sold in small bottles or tinctures, which are usually equipped with a pipette. So you can dose the CBD oil drop by drop.

According to our experience, CBD oil gets the best effect under the tongue (sublingual). The appropriate dosage is applied directly from the bottle with the pipette under the tongue.

If you have any difficulties with this, you can also use a spoon, which must then be pushed under the tongue, although this is quite unusual for the layperson.

The CBD oil is obtained from CO2 extraction and is sold under the names full spectrum oil or full oil. In addition to CBD, the full spectrum of CBD oil also contains other cannabinoids as well as phenols, terpenes, vitamins and minerals.

The advantage of full spectrum CBD oils is the potential health benefits of the entourage effect, whereby the components interact with each other to provide a benefit greater than the individual components.

CBD tea

The effect of CBD tea takes longer to kick in in comparison to taking CBD via the bloodstream, since the active ingredients still have to pass through the intestinal wall or the liver metabolism.

Depending on the nature and dosage, around an hour can pass before the effects of CBD tea begin to be felt.

cbd-tea-relaxing
The effect of CBD tea is slower than when taking CBD via the bloodstream, but many report drinking CBD prior to going to bed helps with sleep issues.

In our experience, the effect of CBD as tea is comparable to the effect of other CBD food supplements, such as capsules or gummy bears.

However, experience has shown that CBD has a slightly longer effect on food intake than when it is taken sublingually.

CBD liquid for vaping and CBD crystals for smoking

The CBD when smoking works almost immediately. Because the CBD gets directly into the bloodstream via the mucous membranes.

Alternatively, you can try a CBD liquid. Vaping the CBD will reduce the toxins from smoking.

man-cbd-vapes-in-a-peaceful-setting
CBD liquids go straight into the blood. So you can immediately assess whether and how CBD works for you after the first few puffs.

How does CBD affect THC?

In contrast to THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) CBD is not psychoactive or intoxicating. Whereas CBD achieves its affect by docking with receptors and inhibiting or encouraging signals being passed, THC achieves its intoxicating effect by docking onto the CB1 and CB2 receptors and passing on its own substances. The way THC works is similar to the body's own messenger substance anandamide.

The interaction of CBD with THC has not yet been fully researched scientifically. However, there is already some scientific evidence of pharmacological interactions.

cbd-liquids-in-trinkets-surrounded-by-cannabis-leaves
This is the most common method for CBD oil. Here the oil is dripped under the tongue. So it can be dosed precisely.

There are indications that THC with CBD releases the happiness hormone serotonin. A combination of THC and CBD could improve memory impairment, according to one study. This combination could also suppress vomiting.

There are also indications of possible positive interactions in other areas. For example, CBD could counteract the appetite-stimulating effects of THC.

You may also be interested in...

Coupons

Watch this space for coupons and great discounts! 

Who we are

The world is slowly beginning to realise the benefits of CBD. Human studies remain in their infancy but the results so far are extremely promising, and the success stories we are hearing are beyond inspiring.

We think CBD is amazing and we've made it our goal to provide you with the best possible information and feedback to help you decide if CBD is right for you. For our content, we research and evaluate the latest studies and sources from the multiple sources in the US and the UK.