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An investigation: So what exactly does CBD oil do?

So what is CBD oil? Throughout history, hemp has had a wide range of applications – from making textiles to treating ailments. In recent years, global interest has increased partly due to the potential health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), one of the primary cannabinoids produced by the plant.

This is extracted from hemp and mixed with MCT to become “CBD Oil”, which is then sold in a variety of different retail forms, such as tinctures, capsules, gummies, and vape liquids and in bulk quantities as full spectrum distilled oil. Although research is still currently in its relative infancy, studies suggest that it could help to relieve symptoms of various conditions, including depression, anxiety, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and arthritis.

In this article, we discuss how this is possible by explaining what CBD oil does. That starts with explaining what the endocannabinoid system is and the vital role it plays in the human body.

The Bridge Between the Body and the Mind

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex biological system found in the majority of animals. Its main purpose is to maintain physical and emotional balance (referred to as “homeostasis”) throughout the entire body through the regulation of various cognitive processes. This includes appetite, sleep, memory, and mood regulation – which is why it has been dubbed “the bridge between the body and the mind.”

It doesn’t stop there, though – research suggests that the ECS also maintains homeostasis through interaction with biological processes, including the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, and the immune system. It does all this using “endocannabinoids” – naturally produced lipids that are essentially messengers that travel between receptors found throughout the body.

There are two main types of endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are located in glands and tissue throughout the body, vital organs, the brain, and the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found in white blood cells, the gastrointestinal and immune systems, the spleen, and the tonsils. However, it should be noted that this list is not exhaustive – both CB1 and CB2 receptors are located in other areas of the body, including reproductive organs, the liver, the heart, and bones. In other words – they’re everywhere.

As a result, when the ECS is thrown out of balance – which is increasingly easy to do in today’s fast-paced, stressful world – the impact can be severe. The body naturally compensates, which may lead to receptors becoming over- or under-sensitized over time – and this can have detrimental physical and mental effects.

CBD and the ECS

In addition to endocannabinoids, the ECS is also receptive to plant-sourced cannabinoids, including those found in hemp extract – which is where CBD comes in. Although it doesn’t bind directly to the primary CB receptors, it is able to activate them, thereby making it harder for them to be over- or under-stimulated, which in turn promotes homeostasis and general well-being. Studies suggest that CBD can also boost the body’s natural production of endocannabinoids, enabling regulation and homeostasis to be achieved quicker and easier.

Due to their positioning in the body, CBD’s activation of CB1 receptors has been shown to relieve various conditions such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, stress, high blood pressure, chronic pain, and inflammation.

On the other hand, CBD’s activation of CB2 receptors encourages optimum liver, kidney, and immune system function, bone and skin health, and general well-being. It also causes a release of macrophages that destroy the beta-amyloid protein that is responsible for the advancement of Alzheimer’s disease.

But how exactly does CBD do all this?

The Science Behind What CBD Does

CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation – which is an underlying cause of a multitude of conditions and ailments – by stopping the breakdown of anandamide (which regulates inflammation throughout the body), inhibiting multiple inflammatory messengers, and triggering programmed cell death (apoptosis) in the immune cells involved with chronic inflammation.

CBD can also block multiple pain receptors and relax tight muscle fibers, with one study suggesting that it can reduce overall muscle spasticity in people with conditions that involve severe neuropathic pain such as multiple sclerosis, with a significant improvement in mobility and a reduction in pain as a result.

Due to CBD’s interaction with the ECS, it can also positively impact multiple cognitive functions, including sleep, appetite, and mood regulation. This can occur through calming the nervous system and encouraging the production of serotonin to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression.

CBD also increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is effectively a neurotransmitter responsible for relaxation. GABA activity naturally increases when we are overstimulated mentally in order to slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure, and vice versa.

It also plays a vital role in sleep hygiene by preparing the mind to fall asleep at night. Consistently low GABA levels can result in insomnia, anxiety, and depression, as well as compromised immunity and digestive problems if it persists for a long period of time. Therefore, CBD can help to relieve these conditions.

Additionally, research suggests that CBD interacts with the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) – a region of the brain where both cognitive and affective information converge. Previous research identified the ACC as playing a key role in the integration of cognitive and emotional information, thereby being integral to cognitive control processes, which implies that CBD affects conflict monitoring when processing information (i.e., focusing attention on task-relevant processing while blocking off task-irrelevant processing).

This in turn suggests CBD could be effective in treating attention deficit-, stress-, and anxiety-related disorders, which can also be linked to conditions such as insomnia

Another study suggested that CBD may be able to turn white adipocytes (fat cells that store fat as a source of energy) into brown adipocytes (fat cells that are used for heat distribution and energy production). The same study also suggests CBD encourages lipolysis (the process by which fat is broken down by the body), improves thermogenesis (heat production), and reduces lipogenesis (creation of fat stores). All these processes are considered to be beneficial to those trying to tackle obesity and improving overall health.

A Holistic Approach Is Best

Although CBD can be extracted and isolated in a laboratory and consumed by itself, when a holistic approach of using a whole-plant extract containing the full range of cannabinoids and terpenes is adopted, studies suggest that the effects are enhanced.

This is because all of the compounds present in the extract work in synergy to create a phenomenon known as the “entourage effect” – meaning that greater, more positive effects on the body are produced compared with the specific effects from each individual compound.

Finding What’s Right for You

It certainly seems as though CBD has a lot of positive impacts on the human body – and as they are explored further, we will undoubtedly discover more about the cannabinoid and its potential role in the treatment of various conditions.

Although current research is limited, and much more extensive studies are required, it’s clear that CBD helps the ECS to maintain homeostasis through the activation of CB receptors throughout the body. However, it isn’t possible to predict your body’s reaction accurately before you try it due to the fact that the ECS influences so many different physical and mental functions. In other words, everyone’s different, and what works for your family and friends won’t necessarily work in exactly the same way for you.

Therefore, it’s always best to adopt the “start low and go slow” rule when experimenting with CBD: begin with a small dose and monitor the effects, and increase gradually and slowly until the optimum results are achieved.

Bear in mind that, according to the National Cancer Institute as well as other experts, it’s impossible to overdose on CBD, which minimizes the risk of experimentation. However, we’d always advise consulting a medical professional before beginning to use CBD to treat a condition or ailment.