Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most prevalent cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant after THC. It has generated a lot of interest due to its therapeutic and medical benefits along with it not being psychotropic. Because of this many people are considering it as a herbal alternative for many opioid pain killers that have the potential risk of addiction. So, how does CBD imparts its effects?
Scientific studies have shown that CBD enhances the endocannabinoid system by its interaction with CB1 and CB2 receptors. Of these receptors, the latter is associated with the immune system and hence improves the immune system response. Moreover there are 65 target points for CBD across the body and its effect varies across them. Hence, CBD imparts its effect through multiple molecular pathways and ion channels across the body. The following are some of the known ways in which CBD imparts its effects at the molecular level.
Two of the biggest CBD benefits are its anti-anxiety and stress-reducing property by its effect on the Serotonin levels in the brain. It is found that a high concentration of CBD directly activates the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors and hence it’s stress-reducing and anti-anxiety properties. Moreover, this is a G coupled protein receptor and it is responsible for many biological functions such as sleep, appetite, mood regulation, anxiety etc.
5-HT1A belongs to the family of 5-HT receptors that are activated by serotonin and hence they are found in central as well as the peripheral nervous system. Depending on the chemical factors of the message, these receptors activate many intracellular series of chemical messages producing either an excitatory or inhibitory response. Moreover, the raw and unheated version of CBD, CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) has a higher affinity to 5-HT1A receptors and hence it is a very good potent anti-emetic drug.
The technical name of these receptors is TRPV1 or “transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V” and they are responsible for pain perception, body temperature and inflammation. It is known that CBD binds to these receptors, regulating pain perception and hence CBD for pain management.
CBD is known to inhibit GPR55 or orphan receptors and they are very much expressed in the cerebellum of the brain. These receptors are known to modulate bone density, blood pressure and other physiological functions associated with the cerebellum. Moreover, it promotes the formation of osteoclasts and they are responsible for bone re-absorption and hyperactive signaling of these receptors causes osteoporosis. Not only that, their activation causes cancer cell proliferation and hence CBD is useful in cancer treatment. Therefore, administering CBD blocks GPR55 signaling reduces bone re-absorption and hence it is useful in the treatment of bone diseases as well as to manage good bone health in old people.
PPARS Nuclear Receptors
It is also known that CBD has anti-cancer effect by its effect on PPARs (peroxisome proliferator activated receptors) situated on the surface of the cell’s nucleus. PPAR-gamma receptors activation causes tumor regression in human lung cancer cells as well as an anti-proliferative effect on cancer cells. Moreover, it degrades amyloid-beta plaque that is an important trigger in Alzheimer’s disease as well as it modulates the genes that are responsible for energy homeostasis. Therefore, CBD has neuro-protective properties and is useful in the treatment of diabetes.
CBD As Reuptake Inhibitor
CBD gets inside the cell membrane by attaching itself to fatty acid binding protein (FABP) and hence it competes with other fatty acids. Once it is inside the cell membrane it inhibits FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) that breaks down fatty acids. Because of this, it reduces anandamide’s access to (FABP) and increases its levels in synapses. Therefore it acts as an anandamide reuptake and breakdown inhibitor and improves mood.
Similarly, CBD also acts as an adenosine reuptake inhibitor and increasing its levels regulates the receptor activity of A1 and A2 adenosine receptors. These receptors have important roles in cardiovascular function, coronary blood flow and regulating myocardial oxygen consumption. Therefore, CBD delays the entry of endocannabinoid into the cells and hence it is useful in reducing blood pressure and improving mood. Therefore, by increasing the endocannabinoid levels in the brain by administering reuptake inhibitors such as CBD we can impart neuroprotective effects against seizures along with other health benefits.
CBD As Allosteric Modulator
CBD is an allosteric receptor modulator which means that it enhances or inhibits how a signal is transmitted by changing the shape of a receptor. For example, it interacts with the GABA-A receptor and improves its affinity for gamma-aminobutyric acid. Hence, CBD’s anxiety-reducing property is due to it changing the shape of the GABA-A receptor and thereby enhancing its natural calming effect. However, in some cases it acts as a negative allosteric modulator i.e. by changing the shape of a receptor, it reduces the affinity to its binding molecule. For example, CBD reduces CB1 receptors affinity to THC molecule and thereby reducing or nullifying its psychotropic effect.
These are some of the scientifically proven ways in which CBD imparts its benefits. Therefore, you can use CBD for its many benefits without any doubt.