Does CBD occur naturally in the body?

5 August, 2020 by
Does CBD occur naturally in the body?
Alla Kolosova

Cannabidiol (commonly referred to as CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant.

This phytocannabinoid interacts with the body through a set of receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Research has shown that the ECS could have wide-reaching effects including sleep, mood, appetite, and fertility. But while the ECS is present in everyone, can the body produce CBD?

First, let us take a look at what exactly the ECS is.

The endocannabinoid system was first discovered in the 1990s by a group of scientists who were researching how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC - the psychoactive element associated with marijuana) interacts with the body. THC and CBD are just two of over a hundred different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.

Whether or not you use any kind of cannabis product, the ECS is active in your body. It’s made up of receptors, enzymes, and molecules known as endocannabinoids. There are two types of receptors: CB1 receptors which are predominantly present in the central nervous system, and CB2 receptors which are mostly found in the peripheral nervous system - and immune cells in particular.

Research is still being carried out into how exactly CBD interacts with the ECS, but at present, it is presumed that it either binds to a receptor or prevents certain molecules in the body from being broken down. The effects of CBD on the body have been shown to help with pain, nausea, stress, sleep, and mood. In turn, all of these functions contribute to what is known as homeostasis, the body’s internal balance.

CBD is a cannabinoid that is found exclusively in the cannabis plant, and it cannot be produced in the body. However, there are certain cannabinoids that are naturally produced by the body - these are known as endogenous (from within) cannabinoids. So far, researchers have identified two key endogenous cannabinoids: anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl. Endogenous cannabinoids act by signaling molecules that activate the cannabinoid receptors on other nearby cells.

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In sum, although we all have an endocannabinoid system built-in and active, our body cannot naturally produce phytocannabinoids such as CBD which come from plants. To benefit from the effects of CBD, it requires using a product that has been carefully extracted from the cannabis plant and kept all the molecules and cannabinoids intact.