What are CBD receptors, and how do they work with our endocannabinoid system? When it comes to CBD, it is important to understand how cannabinoids react with the receptors found naturally within our bodies.
One of the easiest ways to understand how receptors work, is to imagine that you have an important message to convey to another person. Not just any normal message though, a message with very crucial details. Now image that the person waiting for your message is responsible for relaying the information they received from you, to each member of their team so that they can make adjustments to their assigned task. Imagine what could happen if your message never made it to your intended recipient. It would ultimately create a negative effect on each member of your team.
This same type of communication breakdown can happen in your body. Nearly every essential function necessary for survival is regulated by an elaborate system of messengers and receptors, known as your Endocannabinoid System (ECS). To understand the health and wellness potential of CBD, it’s helpful to understand the role of your ECS receptors and how they function within this system.
What Are CBD Receptors?
The receptors often referred to as CBD receptors, are technically known as cannabinoid receptors. These essential G-protein receptors are located on the surface of cells throughout your body, from your brain all the way down to your nerve endings. Your cannabinoid receptors receive information from your ECS messengers and use this information to initiate an appropriate response. Since CBD is a cannabinoid, a lipid that functions as a neurotransmitter, it interacts with the receptors of your ECS.
What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
Your ECS is the largest system of neurotransmitters and receptors in your body. It’s your ECS that modulates your brain function, organ function, and keeps essential endocrine processes functioning efficiently. Your ECS is instrumental to so many important functions that many researchers today believe it is responsible for homeostasis, the processes that restore balance when functions in your body are disrupted by internal or external forces.
Regulating Bodily Functions
The response initiated by your endocannabinoid receptors is dependent on the chemical composition of the message it receives. The interaction between the messenger and receptor will determine the appropriate response, and excitatory response, inhibitory response, or secondary message to other regulatory systems. Just a few of the many processes regulated by the functions of your Endocannabinoid System include:
Your sleep cycles are regulated by circadian rhythms, the 24-hour internal clock that regulates numerous essential functions. While your circadian rhythms are regulated by your exposure to light and darkness; it’s the function of your ECS that regulates your circadian rhythms and stabilizes sleep cycles, as well as numerous processes that can interfere with restful sleep.
Metabolism and Appetite
Your metabolism, also regulated by the ECS, is determined by the complex interaction of your gastrointestinal system, liver, muscle, and fat storage. The activation of CBD receptors modulates nutrient processing, appetite regulation, fat distribution, and metabolic pathways.
Moods and Emotions
The endocannabinoid receptors in your amygdala regulate emotional responses and memories. The role of the ECS and our emotions has been clearly established, affecting our feelings of happiness, , or . The endocannabinoid receptors in the emotional centers of your brain influence the release of serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters that have a direct impact on your mood.
Immune System Function
Your ECS is believed to be the driving force of your immune system. The organs and cells of your immune system, including your mast cells, T-cells, tonsils, and lymphocytes are rich with endocannabinoid receptors. The ECS is believed to play a key role in preventing immune system overactivity and balancing inflammatory responses.
Pleasure and Pain
Endocannabinoid receptors are located in key areas in your body and brain that modulate pain perception and reward-seeking behavior. Your body manufactures the neurotransmitters (anandamide and 2-AG) which interact with the endocannabinoid receptors to regulate pain. Activation of endocannabinoid receptors increases the production of these pain modulating cannabinoids or inhibits the enzymes that break them down.
Memory and Learning
You have a high concentration of endocannabinoid receptors in areas of your brain that play a crucial role in memory and learning, called the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Research suggests that your Endocannabinoid System directly influences cognitive processing by regulating synaptic plasticity, which is your brains ability to adapt to information.
Thermoregulation refers to the processes that help your body temperature stay within established parameters. Your ECS maintains thermoregulation through involvement with your autonomic nervous system. When an external temperature affects your body, your sympathetic nervous system modifies your heart rate, respiration, and vasoconstriction to help maintain balance. Endocannabinoid receptors also respond to signals from your immune system, raising your temperature to fight infection.
The Two CBD Receptors
It’s the interaction between messengers and receptors that keeps your ECS working effectively and efficiently. There are two different types of endocannabinoid receptors in your body, known as CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are found most abundantly in your central nervous system, brain, and spinal cord. The location of the receptor will influence its basic function. While the CB1 receptors in your amygdala regulate your emotional responses and memory, the CB1 receptors in your hypothalamus help regulate your metabolic processes.
The receptors found most abundantly in your peripheral nervous system are your CB2 receptors. Your peripheral nervous system extends from your spinal column to your organs, muscles, and other areas of your body. CB2 receptors are intricately involved in immune system function and inflammatory responses.
How CBD Receptors Respond to CBD Intake
Soon after the discovery of endocannabinoid receptors, researchers discovered that our bodies manufacture their own cannabinoids. The two main cannabinoids made in your body (anandamide and 2-AG) are called endocannabinoids. In a perfect world, your body would make all the endocannabinoids needed to interact with the endocannabinoid receptors. But it does not always work that way. When there are not enough messengers to interact with the cannabinoid receptors, the message gets lost.
CBD being a cannabinoid, mimics the effects of the cannabinoids created naturally in your body and interacts with the endocannabinoid and several non-cannabinoid receptors. When you take in cannabinoids, they circulate through your body until they find a receptor they can connect with, attaching to neurons. Since so many essential functions are dependent on the messengers and receptors of your ECS, the effects are dependent on the system influenced.
Today, researchers understand that there are two types of cannabinoids that influence the receptors of your Endocannabinoid System. The first type of cannabinoids that act as ECS messengers are your endocannabinoids, the cannabinoids produced in your body. The second type are the plant-based cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) found in cannabis plants such as CBD and the “high” inducing cannabinoid THC.
Read our previous blog CBD and Dreams by clicking here.