May 28, 2017

Brief summary of CBD (cannabidiol) effects

Endocannabinoids (naturally produced in body):
Anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine, AEA) and 2-arachidoylglycerol (2-AG) are the main endogenous agonists (activators) of cannabinoid receptors. They are produced in response to intracellular calcium as part of neurotransmission homeostasis.

Cannabinoid receptors (naturally present in body):
CB1R is most prominent in neural cells and is mainly targeted by AEA; activation inhibits anxiety response.
CB2R is most prominent in immune cells and mainly targeted by 2-AG; activation causes inflammatory response.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the main phytocannabinoid in cannabis besides tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the intoxicating cannabinoid). Together, CBD can reduce the intoxicating effects and enhance the medicinal effects of THC, which binds directly with CB1R but at higher concentrations can increase anxiety. In ‘hemp’, which has negligible THC, CBD is the main cannabinoid, and it can be extracted from the stalk, not just the seeds and flowers.

CBD reduces anxiety and depression by preventing the breakdown of AEA and 2-AG, respectively. CBD binds with fatty acid–binding proteins (FABPs) that transport AEA and 2-AG, respectively, to the enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL).


  • CBD binds with CB2R as an inverse agonist, reducing inflammatory response.
  • CBD binds with 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT, serotonin) 1A receptor, reducing depression.
  • CBD binds with transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TrpV1, vanilloid receptor 1, capsaicin receptor) as an antagonist, reducing pain response.
  • CBD binds with peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor (PPAR) gamma, reducing inflammation.
  • CBD has direct antioxidant effects.
Cannabidiol in Pubmed-indexed science publications