Which Brain Receptor Does CBD Affect?
If you keep up with the news, you’ve likely heard about the CBD industry. Consumers are snapping up CBD products everywhere they go. In 2017, they spent $363 million on CBD-enhanced personal products, food, and supplements.
Many of these CBD enthusiasts hope to benefit from the cannabinoid’s health effects. Medical research is still young, but many people claim CBD can boost wellness in a whole host of ways. The lengthy list of benefits includes pain relief, better sleep, and better mood.
How does CBD do all this? Like other neurotransmitters, it works on a brain receptor and other structures in the body.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the types of receptors CBD affects and what that means for the body.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of many cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are a class of neurotransmitters. These are chemical substances that interact with the nervous system in many mammals.
In humans, there’s a system known as the endocannabinoid system. Our bodies produce neurotransmitters that are similar to cannabinoids in structure and function.
That means the human body is primed to react to cannabinoids. They’re most often associated with the cannabis plant.
There are more than 80 known cannabinoids. Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is one of the best known. CBD is another well-studied cannabinoid.
The Endocannabinoid System
In humans, the endocannabinoid system consists of two types of receptors. These “receive” the neurotransmitter molecules. The neurotransmitters then communicate with the receptor, telling it how to behave.
The two receptors in the human endocannabinoid system are known as CB1 and CB2. They’re located throughout the body. Here are some of the common locations for the receptors:
- CB1: brain, spinal cord, white blood cells, gastrointestinal tract
- CB2: white blood cells, tonsils, and other parts of the immune system
Until recently, researchers weren’t sure how CBD interacted with either receptor. Unlike THC, CBD shows a low affinity for either CB1 or CB2 receptors.
New studies show CBD binds to a different location on CB1. When it does this, it prevents THC from binding with the receptor. This may be one reason CBD moderates the effects of THC.
It may also be why CBD doesn’t show the same mind-altering properties as THC. Unlike THC, CBD is usually reported to help people focus and improve alertness.
CBD Acts on More Receptors
CB1 isn’t the only receptor CBD affects. Research suggests CBD may affect many different receptors. This could explain why this one little molecule has such wide-ranging effects.
So far, CBD appears to bind to:
- Opioid receptors
- Serotonin receptors
- Dopamine receptors
Both serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters that play a role in regulating mood. In fact, serotonin is used to treat depression. Many anti-depressants are SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
The fancy name just means these medications block serotonin from binding with receptors. This increases the amount of serotonin available in the body, which influences mood.
Dopamine is often known as a “happy” chemical. People with major depression usually have lower levels of dopamine.
Since CBD binds with dopamine and serotonin receptors, it blocks those neurotransmitters. In turn, your levels of serotonin and dopamine rise, which could help lift your mood.
CBD also binds with opioid receptors. This prevents opioid molecules from binding with the same receptor sites. This could explain why CBD helps people with opioid addiction, as they no longer feel the need to use the drug.
It may also explain how CBD delivers its powerful painkilling effects. The opioid receptors affect pain signals, which is why opioids are powerful painkillers. CBD is being acknowledged as a pain-reliever in its own right.
Chemistry Explains CBD’s Effects
Knowing which receptors CBD binds to in the brain tells us a lot about how CBD could work. Let’s take a quick review:
- Binding with opioid receptors could relieve pain by reducing pain signals
- Binding with serotonin receptors increases serotonin, affecting mood
- Binding with dopamine receptors increases dopamine, affecting mood
- Binding with CB2 receptors in the immune system could reduce inflammation and pain
- Binding with CB1 receptors blocks THC and affects the brain, gut, and other systems
There’s evidence that CBD increases other compounds in the body, like endocannabinoids. For example, it may raise levels of anandamide, which is involved in positive feelings.
From this quick overview, we can see how CBD could achieve a wide range of effects. By acting on CB2 receptors in the immune system, it could help regulate inflammation and pain. At the other end of the scale, it interacts with brain chemistry to ease the symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Do Animals Have a CBD Brain Receptor?
Many pet owners have discovered CBD seems to help their four-legged friends. This leads to the question, do animals have receptors for CBD?
In the case of mammals, the answer is usually yes. Many scientific studies about CBD are actually carried out on mice and rats. These rodents have an endocannabinoid system similar to that of humans.
Cats and dogs have endocannabinoid systems as well. We can’t say for sure that CBD always acts the same way in humans and pets, but many effects seem to carry over. As an example, CBD seems to help cats and dogs with anxiety.
One thing you must be careful of is the dosage. Many cats and dogs are much smaller than humans, so they need less CBD to experience the same effects. A calculator can help you find the right dosage for your pet and be sure to select a premium quality CBD.
Boost Your Health Today
As you can see, CBD delivers its wide-ranging effects by acting on more than one type of brain receptor. It’s little wonder this molecule seems to be able to do so much for human wellness.
CBD could help you achieve a better level of health and wellness. If you’re looking for other health and wellness solutions, take a look around the blog. We have plenty of articles and advice to help you find the right path to a healthier, happier you.