CBD is becoming increasingly popular as a medicinal molecule, as well as a dietary and wellness supplement. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid has been studied in depth over recent years, and is displaying some impressive results in regard to its anticonvulsant, neuroprotective, and antioxidant properties. The cannabinoid is also displaying efficacy in reducing inflammation, a factor of pain and discomfort present in many health conditions, and a contributing factor to various chronic diseases.
CBD AND THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM
CBD is formed within the trichomes of the cannabis plant as a secondary metabolite. The molecule interacts with the human body in numerous ways and exerts effects partly via serotonin and vanilloid receptors. Much like other cannabinoids, CBD can also influence the endocannabinoid system. This system is comprised of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) that are found upon the cell membrane of many different cell types throughout the body.
Several cannabinoids achieve their medicinal effects by binding to these receptors sites. Although CBD does not directly bind to these receptors, and is in fact a known antagonist, it does sill influence the endocannabinoid system in an indirect manner. It has the ability to both enhance and reduce the binding action of certain receptors and also acts as an anandamide reuptake inhibitor.
What is anandamide, you ask? Superb question. Anandamide belongs to a class of molecules known as endocannabinoids. These molecules share a very similar shape with cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, or phytocannabinoids, which is why they are mostly able to bind to the same receptor sites. It’s these mechanisms that enable CBD to be as effective as it is against inflammation
WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?
Although often vilified and looked at through a negative lens, inflammation is actually a vital physiological process and a fundamental aspect of the body’s innate immune response. However, too much inflammation is attributed as a contributing factor for chronic diseases such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.
Acute inflammation is usually the result of a traumatic injury, such as a sprained ankle or strained muscles, for example, and manifests as pain, redness, immobility, swelling, and heat. This form of inflammation is a response with the purpose of protecting the injured area and triggering the healing process. Specific cells move into the affected site and begin to clear debris and damaged tissues. Although anti-inflammatory medication is often used to hinder this response and deal with the pain, the body does need to undergo this phase, thus the use of these medicines can be seen as controversial. Acute inflammation can also be caused by harmful bacteria.
Chronic inflammation is defined as inflammation that persists over long periods of time and can be caused by pathogens, viruses, and an overactive immune response. This form of inflammation can span from periods of months to years, and can occur when the immune system perceives healthy tissues as a threat and starts to attack them. This is known as an autoimmune disease. Such conditions include asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and sinusitis.
CBD AND INFLAMMATION
CBD may play a therapeutic role in both cases of inflammation. The cannabinoid has shown potential in helping to mediate the immune response associated with autoimmune diseases such as those mentioned above, along with neuropathic pain, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression. A scientific paper regarding this mechanism states that CBD offers promise in the field of anti-inflammatory drug development. The molecule may act to combat inflammation and its associated oxidative stress in numerous ways, including exerting an immunosuppressive effect on macrophages and microglial cells, cells that play a role in inflammation and immunity.
CBD has also been shown to significantly reduce chronic inflammatory pain by possibly activating glycine receptors.
Further research published within the journal PLoS One investigated the effects of CBD on intestinal inflammation. Application of the cannabinoid led to decreased levels of macrophages within the intestines of mice after CBD treatment, suggesting future therapeutic strategies involving CBD in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.