Today, more and more people are diving in the world of CBD after hearing reports of what it can do for the body. Hundreds of CBD-based products are taking over the shelves of pharmacies in the form of oils, powders, creams, and other cosmetic goods. But the question is, after ingesting or applying such products, how does the body actually process CBD?
What is CBD?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant that does not produce any kind of high but can provide a feeling of calmness and relaxation. This compound is completely different and separate from the other compound found in the cannabis plant, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is specifically what causes psychoactive effects and is responsible for the feeling of being high. CBD, however, does nothing of the sort.
Many people say that what CBD does do is ease a lot of physical ailments. Because of the rumors of the effects it has on the body, people have tried CBD to help with symptoms of epilepsy, cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, arthritis, and other diseases, as well as cosmetic purposes such as improving skin condition and treating acne. Though it has not yet been specifically proven to help with these conditions, anecdotal reports have been very promising.
Returning to the topic of metabolization of such compounds by our bodies, let’s explore the science. In short, we absorb CBD in our body through our bloodstream, through which it then travels to the cannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2. The absorption of the compound by such receptors depends on how exactly we consume it- through sublingual or oral ingestion, or through topical application. Each one takes a different amount of time and processes differently.
Sublingual consumption- in which you place drops of tincture under your tongue- is one of the most popular methods of absorbing CBD oil. The molecules enter your bloodstream with ease through the mucous membranes, bypassing the digestive system and liver metabolization. Therefore the product acts quickly, typically in about 20 minutes.
Oral ingestion- through the mouth like any food or drink- is another common way of taking CBD oil. This can be in the form of edibles, capsules, or CBD can be added to beverages. Or, if you were to place the tincture on top of your tongue, it would also be absorbed orally (as opposed to under the tongue). Although it is the easiest administration method, it isn’t the most efficient for absorbing high levels of CBD since it needs to go through the digestive system and then the liver must metabolize it. This process takes, in general, 60-90 minutes.
We can also apply CBD directly onto the skin in the form of CBD creams or balms. These are good for those who seek isolated topical pain relief or cosmetic treatment for a particular area of the body. The CBD is absorbed through the skin without entering the bloodstream since its permeable through our pores.
Lastly, we can consume CBD through food products, which metabolizes just as an oral solution would. It just comes in the form of a tasty treat, like CBD Dark Chocolate. You can’t taste anything but delicious dark chocolate goodness in these!
All mammals on this planet have an innate system on their bodies responsible for metabolizing cannabinoids: the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It was part of the discoveries of a 1960s study, as a result of deeper research and investigations about the Cannabis sativa plant and the effects it has on the body.
The cannabinoid receptors are responsible for detecting any changing conditions in the body. The two primary receptors are CB1 and CB2. CB1 works in the brain and nervous system and is responsible for processing the effects in the brain (like the reduction of anxiety or a high in the case of THC). CB2, which is in our tissues, organs, and the immune system, is responsible for the musculoskeletal benefits and/or any calming sensation we feel on our bodies.
Our endocannabinoid system also produces enzymes called endocannabinoids, responsible for maintaining the balance of our bodies and regulating things such as our mood, appetite, sleep schedule, pain reception and more. We synthesize, or produce, the endocannabinoids whenever there are changes in the body. We bind them with the receptors to respond to such changes and regulate the conditions in our body.
CBD Oil and our ECS
Sometimes our endocannabinoid system fails to work properly. When it does, we tend to feel out of balance. This is because we are not producing enough of the endocannabinoids enzymes that regulate our body functions.
The cannabinoids we ingest from the consumption of cannabis products interact with our receptors very similarly as the ones we produce ourselves. THC tends to bind with the CB1 receptors located in the brain, resulting in the psychoactive effect of being high.
However, CBD works a little differently. Instead of binding directly to our receptors, it stimulates the production of endocannabinoids in our body. The endocannabinoids, then, can be responsible for regulating it.
It is because of that that more and more people are relying on CBD oil to stabilize their bodies and promote general well-being. However, it may not have much effect on irregularities that do not relate to the endocannabinoid system. We should always research the source of our imbalance before consuming CBD. But given that it has far fewer side effects than most medications, many of us love CBD!