How CBD Affects the Endocannabinoid System


CBD, the popular compound from the cannabis plant has been a hot topic of research lately for it’s anti-inflammatory properties and ability to help reduce anxiety in not only humans, but all mammals.

What’s unique about CBD, unlike it’s counterpart THC, is how it interacts with the Endocannabinoid system. Unlike traditional marijuana (THC), consuming CBD is non-psychoactive and does not get you high.

CBD is sold online legally from retailers that extract the compound from hemp and offer a variety of ways to consume or ingest it. Examples include oral ingestion of CBD oil (via tinctures), vaping CBD, or applying it topically.

What are the benefits of CBD?

Given the plethora of research around CBD, there are many discovered benefits. The most common reported being the compound’s calming effects resulting in reduced anxiety. Others report CBD helping regulate sleep patterns, increasing appetite, having anti-tumorous properties and more.

Many professional athletes have been endorsing CBD for it’s ability to help reduce inflammation during injury recovery and help relax muscles after workouts. There are several CBD reviews online about how users of benefited or improved the quality of their lives.


Endocannabinoid systems exist within mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish (and possibly even some invertebrates!). So much attention goes towards dopamine, serotonin, GABA, and norepinephrine that endocannabinoids (literally ‘endogenous cannabinoids’) have gone mostly unnoticed – that is, until now.

Endocannabinoids (such as anandamide, 2-AG, and NADA) assist in regulating virtually every single physiological system in the body. Interestingly, endocannabinoids function opposite to traditional neurotransmitters. Dopamine, for example, releases from the presynaptic cell, flows across the synapse and attaches itself to the postsynaptic cell.

Endocannabinoids are synthesized on demand, and flow backward from the postsynaptic cell to the presynaptic cell, telling the presynaptic cell to slow down or altogether stop releasing neurotransmitters. Endocannabinoids function as a flow-control mechanism.

Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome (CECD) is a recognized medical diagnosis wherein a patient is determined not to be producing enough of their own cannabinoids. CECD is thought to play a significant role in many conditions, such as:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Parkinson’s
  • Schizophrenia
  • Psoriasis
  • Chronic Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Depression
  • Substance Abuse
  • PTSD

And the list doesn’t stop there – but suffice it to say the endocannabinoid system (and its proper functioning) is far more important than anyone ever thought.


CBD, Endocannabinoids, and other Neurotransmitters

CBD is an effective way to combat CECD (and subsequently a laundry list of serious ailments). Although not certain, medical experts currently believe that CBD inhibits the enzyme Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH), the primary molecule responsible for breaking down and recycling endocannabinoids.

However, this is not the only way that CBD exerts its benefits. Other therapeutic actions of CBD include:

  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Binding: Many antipsychotic pharmaceutical drugs target the D2 receptor, and this probably explains CBD’s benefits in anecdotally helping to manage schizophrenia.
  • TRPV1 Activation: TRPV1 receptors are Involved in regulating body temperature, pain, and inflammation. Other molecules known to affect TRPV1 channels include anandamide, capsaicin, AM404, and a myriad of other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN, CBDV, CBC, and THCV.
  • PPAR-gamma Activation: The nuclei of our body’s cells contain PPAR-gamma receptors, and these assist in the removal beta-amyloid plaque (major contributor to Alzheimer’s), in addition to lipid uptake, dopamine release, and insulin sensitivity. This activity explains why CBD may benefit those with schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
  • 5-ht1A Activation (at higher doses): 5-ht1a receptors assist in moderating addiction, sleep, anxiety, pain perception, appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Adenosine Enhancement: CBD moderately prevents adenosine reuptake (like caffeine), through inhibition of the equilibrate nucleoside transporter 1 (ENT1). This likely explains the reported benefits of CBD for inflammation and autoimmune conditions.
  • Glycine Receptor Potentiation: Glycine receptors are the most ubiquitous inhibitory receptor in the CNS, and they play a major role in pain proprioception via the spinal cord/brainstem. CBD potentiates these receptors, which most likely reduces inflammation and chronic pain.
  • GPR55 Antagonization: GPR55 receptors exist in abundance in the brain (mostly the cerebellum) and aid in controlling blood pressure and bone density. Also, GPR55 receptors encourage the proliferation of cancer cells when turned on (CBD helps turn them off). These findings shed light on CBD’s possible role in helping patients with high blood pressure and osteoporosis.

Because Endocannabinoids exist in all mammals, CBD is not only a resource for humans but many people give their pets CBD to help with joint pain, anxiety, and more. Examples of pet CBD products include oils, treats, topicals and more.

Keep in mind, there has been massive increases in research around CBD as a wonderful resource of relief, but the FDA still hasn’t approved of statements regarding medical claims around CBD. If you are suffering from serious ailments consult your physician before supplementing any prescription drugs for CBD. As always, consult your healthcare provider before beginning any natural products regimen!