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What are CBD Receptors? How Cannabinoid Receptors Work with the Endocannabinoid System

Catherine DeMuro
September 5, 2019

Imagine you have an important message to convey to another person, a message with crucial details. The person waiting for your message is responsible for relaying this vital information so each member of their team can make appropriate adjustments to their assigned task. Now imagine what could happen if your message never made it to your intended recipient.

This same type of communication breakdown can happen in your body. Nearly every essential function necessary for your survival is regulated by an elaborate system of messengers and receptors, your Endocannabinoid System (ECS). To understand the health and wellness potential of CBD, it’s helpful to understand the role of your ECS receptors and how they function within this system.

What Are CBD Receptors?

The receptors often referred to as CBD receptors, are technically known as cannabinoid receptors. These essential G-protein receptors are located on the surface of cells throughout your body, from your brain to your nerve endings. Your cannabinoid receptors receive information from your Endocannabinoid System messengers and use this information to initiate an appropriate response. Since cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid, a lipid that functions as a neurotransmitter, it interacts with the receptors of your Endocannabinoid System.

What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)? 

Your Endocannabinoid System is the largest system of neurotransmitters and receptors in your body. It’s your ECS that modulates your brain function, organ function, and keeps essential endocrine processes functioning efficiently. Your ECS is instrumental to so many important functions that many researchers today believe it is responsible for homeostasis, the processes that restore balance when functions in your body are disrupted by internal or external forces.1 

Regulating Bodily Functions

The response initiated by your endocannabinoid receptors is dependent on the chemical composition of the message it receives. The interaction between the messenger and receptor will determine the appropriate response, and excitatory response, inhibitory response, or secondary message to other regulatory systems. Just a few of the many processes regulated by the functions of your Endocannabinoid System include:

  • Sleep Regulation

    Your sleep cycles are regulated by circadian rhythms, the 24-hour internal clock that regulates numerous essential functions.2 While your circadian rhythms are regulated by your exposure to light and darkness; it’s the function of your Endocannabinoid System that regulates your circadian rhythms and stabilizes sleep cycles, as well as numerous processes that can interfere with restful sleep.3

  • Metabolism and Appetite

    Your metabolism, also regulated by the ECS, is determined by the complex interaction of your gastrointestinal system, liver, muscle, and fat storage. The activation of CBD receptors modulates nutrient processing, appetite regulation, fat distribution, and metabolic pathways.4

  • Immune System Function 

    Your Endocannabinoid System is believed to be the driving force of your immune system. The organs and cells of your immune system, including your mast cells, T-cells, tonsils, and lymphocytes are rich with endocannabinoid receptors. The ECS is believed to play a key roll in preventing immune system overactivity and balancing inflammatory responses.6

  • Pleasure and Pain

    Endocannabinoid receptors are located in key areas in your body and brain that modulate pain perception and reward-seeking behavior.7 Your body also manufactures the neurotransmitters (anandamide and 2-AG) than interact with the endocannabinoid receptors to regulate pain.8 Activation of endocannabinoid receptors increases the production of these pain modulating cannabinoids or inhibits the enzymes that break them down.

  • Memory and Learning  

    You have a high concentration of endocannabinoid receptors in areas of your brain that play a crucial role in memory and learning, called the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Research suggests that your Endocannabinoid System directly influences cognitive processing by regulating synaptic plasticity11, the ability of your brain to adapt to information.12.

  • Temperature Regulation

    Thermoregulation refers to the processes that help your body temperature stay within established parameters. Your ECS maintains thermoregulation through involvement with your autonomic nervous system. When external temperatures affect your body, a response from your sympathetic nervous system modifies your heart rate, respiration, and vasoconstriction to help maintain essential balance. Endocannabinoid receptors also respond to signals from your immune system, raising your temperature to fight infection.13.

How CBD Receptors Respond to CBD Intake

Soon after the discovery of your endocannabinoid receptors, researchers discovered that our bodies manufacture cannabinoids. The two main cannabinoids made in your body (anandamide and 2-AG) are called endocannabinoids. In a perfect world, your body would make all the endocannabinoids needed to interact with the endocannabinoid receptors. But it does not always work that way. When there are not enough messengers to interact with the cannabinoid receptors, the message is lost.

CBD mimics the effects of the cannabinoids created in your body and interacts with the endocannabinoid and several non-endocannabinoid receptors. When you take hemp-derived CBD, the cannabinoids circulate through your body until they find a receptor they can connect with, attaching to neurons. Since so many essential functions are dependent on the messengers and receptors of your ECS, the effects are dependent on the system influenced.

Influencing Endocannabinoid Receptors with CBD from CBDistillery™

Today, researchers understand that there are two types of cannabinoids that influence the receptors of your Endocannabinoid System. The first type of cannabinoids that act as ECS messengers are your endocannabinoids, the cannabinoids produced in your body. The second type are the plant-based cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) found in cannabis plants.

For a quality assortment of non-intoxicating, hemp-derived CBD products visit CBDistillery™. All CBDistillery™ products are crafted from non-GMO, naturally cultivated domestic hemp. You can verify the purity and potency of our reasonably priced products by viewing the third-party test results on our site or scanning the QR code on your product label.

  1. Journal of Young Investigators. C Sallaberry and L Astern. (2018 June 01) The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator.
  2. Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. J Hirayama and P Sassone-Corsi. (2009) Transcription Control and the Circadian Clock.
  3. Current Psychiatry Reports. K Mabson et al. (2017 March 27) Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: A Review of the Literature.
  4. Frontiers in Psychology. B Watkins and J Kim. (2015 January 06) The Endocannabinoid System: Directing Eating Behaviour and Macronutrient Metabolism.
  5. Fundación CANNA. T Bagar. (2019) The Pursuit of Happiness and What Cannabinoids Have to Do with It.
  6. Frontiers in Immunology. A Olah et al. (2017 November 10) Targeting Cannabinoid Signaling in the Immune System: “High”-ly Exciting Questions, Possibilities, and Challenges.
  7. British Journal of Pharmacology. M Solinas et al. (2008 April 14) The endocannabinoid System in Brain Reward Processes.
  8. Frontiers in Endocrinology. P Grimaldi et al. (2013 December 16) The Endocannabinoid System and Spermatogenesis.
  9. Molecular Neurobiology. M Kruk-Slomka et al. (2016 December 06) Endocannabinoid System: The Direct and Indirect Involvement in Memory and Learning Processes – A Short Review.
  10. The University of Qeensland. (2018 April 17) What is Synaptic Plasticity?
  11. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology. S Nass et al. (2015 February 27) Endocannabinoid Catabolic Enzymes Play Differential Roles In Thermal Homeostasis In Response to Environmental or Immune Challenge.
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