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How Does CBD Work?

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How does CBD work? CBD oil can calm you down, reduce stress, relieve pain, and treat some physical health problems. How does the substance affect the brain and the rest of the body to produce these effects?

How CBD works is complex. It affects the brain in many different ways. It affects many parts of the brain, including the cannabinoid receptors.


CBD works by interacting with a vast collection of different cells and receptors throughout our bodies that make up the Endocannabinoid System.

More than anything else, CBD mimics the effect of serotonin.

Serotonin is a powerful chemical that stabilizes your mood. CBD oil products act as an effective substitute for serotonin and can help people who have a serotonin deficiency.

All of these things put together make CBD a powerful painkiller, anti-anxiety medication, and natural sleep aid.

Since CBD does not affect the brain the way THC does, it does not get you high. We do not yet fully understand how CBD works, but we know that it works in several ways:

  • CBD affects serotonin receptors. Serotonin, to oversimplify, is a chemical that makes you happy. CBD mimics the effect of serotonin, giving it an anti-anxiety effect.
  • CBD interacts with the TRPV1 receptor, which affects inflammation, body temperature, and perception of pain. Many other plant medicines work by interacting with other TRPV receptors, which there are dozens of.
  • CBD is anti-inflammatory. CBD activates the endocannabinoid system, which has all sorts of advantages, including treating arthritis as a topical lotion.
  • CBD also indirectly deactivates or blocks the GPR55 receptor. The GPR55 receptor is associated with cancer cell growth and bone loss.
  • CBD makes you more sensitive to GABA, a calming neurotransmitter. Sensitivity to GABA can treat anxiety.
  • CBD prevents the reuptake (reabsorption) of certain neurotransmitters. Preventing reuptake causes these neurotransmitters to build up in the brain, which can treat certain mental health problems.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

Your body uses the endocannabinoid system to send messages. It is a cell-signaling system necessary for your body to function properly.

Located primarily within the central nervous system, it is a large web of different receptors and cells.

Endocannabinoid System Receptors

You do not have to use any cannabis, THC, or CBD to use your endocannabinoid system.

Your body will use this system even if you never use any cannabis plant products. Your endocannabinoid system works on natural chemicals that your body produces.

While your endocannabinoid system is stimulated by natural chemicals your body produces, it can also be stimulated by cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.

Related article: The Differences Between CBD and THC

Sometimes, a person is deficient in natural cannabinoids. When you take THC or CBD, you may improve your health by making up for this deficiency within your endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system affects sleep, mood, appetite, memory, and fertility. We do not yet know very much about the endocannabinoid system, but THC and CBD can presumably treat any kind of disorder that a cannabinoid deficiency causes.

As a side note, the cannabis plant species encompasses both the hemp plant, and marijuana plant.

Thc Vs Cbd Chart

Some people do not realize this. Both hemp and marijuana offer similar health benefits. The only difference between the two plants, is hemp will contain less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana will have more.

How Does CBD Interact with Cannabinoid Receptors?

While THC directly stimulates two cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) located throughout the human body, CBD works in a different way – or so we think.

Brain Receptors Image

This image shows how our sleep product lines can indirectly regulate receptors, causing you to feel a little sleepy.

Interesting fact: immune cells as part of our immune system actually have CB receptors.

Sleep isn’t the only form of relief, this is just one example of many different ways this interaction can occur.

CBD prevents cannabinoids from being broken down, allowing them to build up in the brain. This does not get you high and has a low risk of unpleasant side effects compared to THC.

In the human body, cannabinoids are broken down by enzymes. CBD prevents these enzymes from working normally, keeping the cannabinoids in the body. This has many physical and mental health benefits for many people.

How Enzymes Work

Research on how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system is limited and in its early stages. It was not even discovered until the 1990s and is still mysterious.

How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System?

CBD can stay in your system for several weeks. Keep in mind that after a few days, the residual amount of CBD left is almost non-existent.

Still, it can stay in your system in a detectable amount for weeks.

What Else Does CBD Do?

People use CBD for countless things, so many that you can’t count them all. There is scientific evidence in favor of many of these benefits.

Related article: Interesting Facts About Cannabidiol, or CBD

Other benefits the human body may experience are only believed to be true without any medical studies. Even a list of health benefits that there is some scientific evidence for is extensive:

  • Stress relief
  • Chronic pain relief
  • Minor pain relief
  • Anti-anxiety
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Promotes stable mood and emotions
  • Improved digestion (this makes sense because serotonin affects digestion)
  • Improved metabolism
  • Better motor coordination
  • Faster learning and sharper memory
  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Muscle growth
  • Bone growth
  • Improved reproductive function
  • Improved liver function

CBD seems to boost your overall physical and mental health, so it works for really a lot of different conditions. It can correct a cannabinoid deficiency and make up for a deficiency in serotonin.

Benefits of Topical CBD

While taking CBD orally is best for most people, topical CBD products also have medicinal benefits and are not gimmick products. You can treat many health problems within the human body with CBD lotions and balms.

CBD lotions often combine CBD with other ingredients. Now that CBD is legal everywhere in the United States, many skin lotions include it.

Topical Cbd Balm

Since CBD reduces inflammation, CBD lotions work for arthritis. It is already very common to use CBD for this disease. Most people with the disease have already tried it or considered trying it.

Some people are allergic to NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that are commonly used to treat arthritis. CBD is a great alternative treatment, and it can be the first-choice treatment.

CBD also treats skin conditions such as eczema. Some anti-aging products also contain CBD. CBD lotions can treat pain or inflammation at a specific part of your body.

How Does Topical CBD Work?

Topical CBD works the same way as oral CBD – by interacting with cannabinoid receptors. There are cannabinoid receptors all over your body, and if you use CBD lotions, your CBD will affect the local receptors.

This is why topical CBD is better for conditions like arthritis and eczema than depression or anxiety. Use topical products to treat the right conditions. The endocannabinoid system can manage inflammation and pain, treating skin and joint conditions.

Topical Cbd

Topical CBD can also prevent the human body from producing inflammatory markers such as tumor necrosis factor alpha.

This makes topical CBD great for arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. CBD can also treat psoriasis and scars.

Related article: Using CBD for Arthritis Pain Relief

While many topical CBD products depend only on CBD, many others have several medicinal ingredients. Any of the other ingredients might have side effects. Avoid the product if it gives you a negative reaction.

Why is Serotonin Important? How Does CBD Affect It?

Serotonin is one of the most important or the most important “happiness chemicals” that your nerve cells produce. The chemical lifts and stabilizes your mood.

Many different chemicals affect how you think and feel, with serotonin being one of the most important. Serotonin is found mostly in your digestive system and in your central nervous system, not in your brain, though it is there as well.

Serotonin does a bit of everything. It helps you sleep, makes you feel better, makes your bones healthier, and even helps your wounds heal.

Raising levels of serotonin often eliminates depression and anxiety. It is a powerful feel-good chemical that everyone needs and benefits from. You can improve your life by raising levels of serotonin with CBD or in any other way.

Cbd For Sleep

Serotonin is great for your emotional stability. Your mood won’t swing wildly as a result of small events, especially not negative events. Serotonin also improves your focus.

Drawbacks of High Serotonin

Usually, people who take CBD do not experience negative side effects. CBD is not likely to lead to the unpleasant or dangerous side effects of excessive serotonin. It only mimics serotonin and does not increase it.

However, excessive serotonin is unhealthy, even if CBD is not likely to cause it or cause anything similar to it. Even unusually high doses of CBD seem to be safe. While far higher than normal doses of CBD can make you feel sick, the side effects do not seem to be dangerous.

Related article: Comparing CBN and CBD

Serotonin is not one-sidedly good and can lead to things like a low sex drive if your serotonin is always high. Some anti-depressants can keep your serotonin too high all the time.

Excessive serotonin causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. When you eat upsetting or harmful food, serotonin increases to get rid of it. At worst, extremely high levels of serotonin can lead to serotonin syndrome, a dangerous condition.

While serotonin can keep your bones healthy, it may have the opposite effect if you take an excessive amount of it. Like many things, it is healthy in reasonable amounts but harmful in excessive amounts.

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It is not clear whether or not CBD, which does not increase serotonin but does stimulate serotonin receptors, can cause serotonin-related health problems. Usually, a normal dose of CBD does not lead to side effects.

Even a huge dose seems to only cause nausea or vomiting and not anything more harmful than that. CBD seems to lack the power to overstimulate the serotonin receptors to the point of harm.

How Does CBD Work to Treat Low Serotonin?

CBD works very well for people who have a serotonin deficiency. It can work as a safer alternative to anti-depressant drugs, which have side effects and can be addictive.

Even if your serotonin levels remain low, CBD will activate your serotonin receptors and make you calmer, healthier, and happier.

As well as activating serotonin (5-HT1A) receptors on its own, CBD might also make natural serotonin more effective.

Anti-depressants are Risky? How is CBD Better?

Many of the most popular anti-depressants are SSRIs, as in “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.” Different SSRI drugs have different effects, but they all work in the same way – by preventing your brain from getting rid of serotonin.

Your brain gets rid of serotonin by reuptake. Neurons re-absorb the serotonin, which destroys it. SSRIs prevent your neurons from destroying the serotonin, which makes it build up in your brain.

Having a persistently and artificially high level of serotonin is not healthy and can have side effects. Some people commit suicide or experience suicidal thoughts after they start taking serotonin.

New Phase Blends Cbd Product Line

Anti-depressants can also be addictive, with withdrawal symptoms if you stop using them.

While some people can tolerate and benefit from SSRIs, they are not a cure for depression and are not safe drugs. CBD has a much lower risk of side effects and is not addictive.

How Safe is CBD Compared to Alternatives? Are There Side Effects?

CBD side effects are uncommon and unserious enough that it is likely to remain available without a prescription forever. Since CBD helps you sleep, it can make you drowsy.

You might also experience a dry mouth, drowsiness, nausea, or, at worst, diarrhea or vomiting. These side effects are rare, and mainly show up when you take way too much CBD oil.

The world health organization considers CBD to be safe. They consider it a substance with no major side effects and no potential for addiction.

Vegan Cbd Capsules

What CBD does – stimulating the serotonin receptors, the endocannabinoid system, and other systems – is not dangerous. It does not seem to be able to overstimulate the serotonin receptors enough to cause an overdose.

Related article: Can CBD Become Addicting?

While there is a bit of evidence that CBD might be safe during pregnancy, the evidence is not conclusive. You might want to avoid it to be on the safe side.

CBD is safe because the substance is fairly mild and does not have much potential for harm or addiction. Since a toxic dose of CBD is likely enormous compared to the effective dose, CBD is not likely to hurt anyone.

Be Careful Where You Purchase CBD

If you buy CBD oil from an untrustworthy source, it could be contaminated with some chemicals used to manufacture it and could hurt you.

If the people manufacturing the CBD are amateurs or do not take safety seriously, harmful chemicals may remain in the product.

Qr Code Examples On Cbd Oils

At a minimum, look for QR codes on product labels. These will link to a third party lab analysis that shows exactly what cannabinoids are in your product, and at what level.

Certificates of Analysis

If you do not see a QR code on a CBD oil product – DO NOT BUY IT. Too many companies are selling “CBD oil” except there is no CBD in it.

Related article: How to Read a Certificate of Analysis Properly

The third party lab analysis is a way for you to be certain that product has cannabinoids, like CBD, in it.

Third Party Tested Cbd

The image above shows the cannabinoid profile located within any proper third party lab analysis.

Don’t buy CBD oil from the first company you find on a search engine. Find a trustworthy company before you order anything.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we have the basics covered, let’s go over some common questions when it comes to how CBD works within our bodies. If, after reading the article, you still have further questions please call us or email us.

We love helping educate people on cannabinoids, like CBD.

Related article: Fibromyalgia and CBD – Should You Consider Using It?

What are Neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters are part of how different parts of your body and different parts of your brain communicate with each other. Different parts of your body and brain use chemicals for communication. Neurons send messages to muscles or to other neurons using neurotransmitters.

Not all communication within your body is electric; it uses chemicals also. Chemical neurotransmitter signals can cause electric communication signals.

Is CBD Legal?

In the United States, CBD is legal everywhere. If the CBD product is…

  1. Made from hemp and not marijuana
  2. Contains under 0.3% THC content

It is legal in all states. It is considered safe and does not require a prescription anywhere.

Different countries have different laws and may allow CBD even if they do not allow marijuana.

CBD is not always legal to sell or even always legal to import, so check the laws in your country and area first.

Can You Count on Any CBD You Buy to be THC Free?

Unfortunately, it is possible to buy CBD oil that contains more than a trace of CBD. If the CBD tests for more than 0.3% CBD, it can be illegal for you to possess in parts of the United States where marijuana is illegal.

Be careful who you buy from and go with a known and trusted company. You can end up accidentally buying something illegal otherwise.

Does CBD Ever Get You High at All?

No, CBD does not get you high and does not feel like THC at all. Even something like caffeine produces something closer to a high than CBD does.

You can still act sober, concentrate, and think clearly while using CBD.

Related article: How Long Does CBD Normally Stay in Your System?

More Research is Required to Understand CBD

While much is known about CBD, there is even more than we don’t know. We do not know all of the diseases it can treat, nor do we know everything about how it interacts with the brain and body.

We’re also continuously learning about the endocannabinoid system, and all it entails. There are multiple molecular pathways that we know about, but more research is ongoing.

While CBD is considered safe, we do not know what exceptional circumstances might make it unsafe. Possibly, there are some people who should not take CBD and some medications you should not combine CBD with.

However, it seems to be both a safe and effective treatment. While taking far more than a necessary dose of CBD can make you sick for a little while, it does not seem to be able to kill you.

Your healthcare provider will know your particular circumstances better than anyone, so be sure to check with them.

Wrapping It All Up | How Does CBD Work?

There are a lot of moving pieces involved when it comes to supplementing with CBD, and how your body responds.

You can thank your endocannabinoid system, and central nervous system, for aiding in utilizing CBD oil products.

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The key takeaway here is this:

  • CBD, and other cannabinoids, regulate different receptors we have
  • These receptors are part of what’s called the endocannabinoid system
  • Results of these interactions come in the form of pain relief, anxiety, and sedation, to name a few benefits

There is obviously much more involved, but this article covered the basics in a way that’s both informative, and easy to understand.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Check out our CBD blog if you want to read some other interesting articles on CBD, or other hemp based information.

About the Author

Dale Hewett Author

Dale Hewett

Dale is the owner and founder of New Phase Blends. He discovered his passion for CBD use after suffering from injuries sustained while on Active Duty in the US Army. His number one priority is introducing the same CBD products that he himself uses for relief to others who can benefit from them.

Dale holds a Master Degree of Science, and is the inventor of the popular, patent-pending CBD-based sleep aid known as ‘Sleep.’