May 28, 2017

Brief summary of CBD (cannabidiol) effects

Endocannabinoids are naturally produced in the body. They are produced in response to calcium levels in the cells to help stabilize nerve transmissions. The main endocannabinoids are called anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamine, AEA) and 2-arachidoylglycerol (2-AG). The endocannabinoids act as activators (“agonists”) of the cannabinoid receptors which are also naturally present in the body.

There are two types of cannabinoid receptors:
CB1R is most prominent in neural cells and is mainly targeted by AEA; its activation inhibits the anxiety response.
CB2R is most prominent in immune cells and mainly targeted by 2-AG; its activation causes an 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 the endocannabinoids AEA and 2-AG, respectively. It does this by binding with the proteins that transport AEA and 2-AG to the enzymes that break them down.

CBD has other actions and consequent effects as well:

  • CBD binds with CB2R as an inverse agonist (deactivator), 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 (blocker), 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