Cannabinoid (CBD) receptors are located in the human body’s endocannabinoid system and is one of the body’s largest neurotransmitter networks. The endocannabinoid system includes many different physiological functions, such as appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and controls memory processing. It also plays an important role in regulating the immune system and inflammation within the body. Other functions included in the endocannabinoid system is stress-recovery, regulation of motor activity, and it influences the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
For the past two decades, researchers have known that the human body produces its own cannabinoids which activate cannabinoid receptors. These CBD receptors are Gi/o-protein receptors found in the cell membrane. There are two main types of CBD receptors, CB1 and CB2.
CB1, the most researched receptor, is located throughout the brain and the central nervous system. CB1 receptors are also found in the periphery such as prostate, retina, sperm cells, colonic tissues, adrenal gland, heart, and lungs. CB2, on the other hand, is located in the immune system and focuses on the spleen and gastrointestinal system. It can also be found in the peripheral organs, tonsils, thymus and bone marrow.
These Gi/o-protein receptors are activated when THC, CBD or other chemically synthesized cannabinoids are introduced to the system. Researchers have found that when the CBD receptors are activated they regulate inflammation. CBD can be used as an anti-inflammatory to help contain inflammation in the body, including inflammatory bowel diseases such as IBS or Crohn’s.
The medication interacts with the receptors in the gastrointestinal tract provide relief from inflammation and pain. In addition to bowel inflammation, it can also help with skin inflammation, such as acne and psoriasis.
When activated, CB1 receptors affect learning, memory and sensory processing as well as pain perception. As such, studies have shown the value of the CBD receptor in Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients. When activated, the receptor promotes the removal of plaque or toxicities in the amyloid beta protein. This is the protein which causes build up and inflammation in Alzheimer patients. Inflammation in the brain is one of the main components found in Alzheimer’s. Due to the interaction with the cannabinoid receptor and the medication, studies have shown less nighttime agitation and behavioral disturbances in Alzheimer patients.
In addition to the benefits listed above, when CB1 receptors interact with the synthetic CBD medication, it has been shown to help with seizures, psychosis or other mental disorders, nausea, migraines, depression, stress, and anxiety. When the CB2 receptor interacts with the synthetic THC medication, it has been known to help with pain, muscle spasticity, glaucoma, insomnia, low appetite, nausea, and anxiety.
There is still much to learn about the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid receptors. What was once thought to only be present in the brain has been proven to run throughout the human body. Researchers believe that the human body may contain more cannabinoid receptors beyond CB1 and CB2, only time and research will tell.