Today, the wisdom of our ancients stands vindicated. There’s surely a reason why hemp was the first plant to be cultivated, and why it continues to thrive in all climates and geographies. The growing interest in hemp and its derivative CBD only goes to show that while the times may have changed, the healing power of this miraculous plant hasn’t diminished. Whether you love CBD or hate the mention of it, one thing is for certain. You can’t afford to ignore CBD if you want to derive the benefits of good health and wellness! So, what is CBD, and how does it work in the human body?
What Is CBD?
CBD, shorthand for cannabidiol, is an active compound obtained from either hemp or marijuana. Both hemp and marijuana species are part of the same genus of cannabis, known as Cannabis sativa. What makes hemp and marijuana different are the latter is intoxicating and gives you the sensation of ‘high’, while hemp does not. Hemp contains high concentrations of CBD and less than 0.3% of THC (the potentially psychoactive cannabinoid), which does not make it intoxicating or addicting. On the other hand, marijuana has more than 0.3% of THC, where when one consumes more, they’ll get the high sensation quicker and stronger.
How Does CBD Work?
The key to understanding how CBD oil benefits us lies with our body’s Endocannabinoid System or ECS. Whenever our bodies are attacked by external forces like fevers or injuries, it is the ECS that helps our functions return to normal. Although it is naturally occurring in the human body, the ECS is a fairly complex system that is still not completely understood.
There are, however, three key components that enable this system to work efficiently. They include:
These are naturally produced molecules within the human body that help keep internal functions running smoothly. They regulate a variety of bodily processes like digestion, sleep, pain management, reproduction, learning & memory, and moods, among others. The body produces them on-demand. Hence, the levels of endocannabinoids differ from person to person, and there is no typical level that is appropriate for an individual. Structurally, the endocannabinoids produced by our body are similar to cannabinoids.
All molecules, in order to function, need receptors. The main endocannabinoid receptors in the human body are found in two areas. The central nervous system has what is known as CB1 receptors, and the peripheral nervous system has CB2 receptors, especially in the immune cells. Depending on what condition you are experiencing, the endocannabinoid binds itself to the appropriate receptor. In cases of pain, for instance, they bind to the CB1 receptors in spinal nerves.
All enzymes are biological molecules that speed up the rate of chemical reactions occurring in our cells. This is what allows important bodily functions like metabolism and digestions to occur. The enzymes involved in the ECS help break down the endocannabinoids once they have helped the body carry out its natural processes.
Research into understanding the ECS is what re-introduced hemp and CBD oil to the medical and wellness communities. Over the previous several centuries, the plant was used primarily for hedonistic purposes. But when researchers discovered that the ECS actually produces a molecule in our bodies that is structurally similar to the CBD in hemp, a new era of scientific research began to explore its healing properties and potential benefits for health such as pain relief, anxiety and stress reduction, better mood and sleep quality, among many others advantages.