CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the main compounds found in hemp and cannabis plants. In fact, it is attracting more and more attention for its large number of beneficial properties.
How exactly does CBD work? Unfortunately, the answer is very complex. CBD has an effect on all receptors in the body, producing a wide variety of results, including those that affect hormone production.
In this article we will explore how CBD affects the endocrine system and the production of hormones such as cortisol, insulin and melatonin.
Understanding Hormones and the Endocrine System
Before reviewing the specific effects of CBD on hormones, it is important to have a basic understanding of what hormones are, the endocrine system, and the relationship between the two.
Essentially, hormones are chemical messengers. They are involved in numerous processes in the body including growth and development, metabolism and appetite, sexual function, reproduction, and mood.
The endocrine system is made up of a variety of glands that produce hormones, such as the thyroid, pancreas, and pineal gland, among others. The hormones produced by these glands are powerful chemical compounds that can have major effects on the body, even in small amounts.
C.HOW IT AFFECTS CBD TO HORMONES
When we ingest cannabinoids like CBD, they interact with our endocannabinoid system. A complex system that is involved in physiological systems including appetite, mood and much more.
Research has shown that the endocannabinoid system is also involved in the management of endocrine processes. It does this by activating receptors in the brain and body that directly influence the activity of the thyroid, pineal, and pituitary glands.
This is how stimulating the endocannabinoid system, CBD and other cannabinoids can directly affect the hormone levels in the body. Below we show you examples of how CBD influences the levels of the main hormones.
CBD AND CORTISOL
One of the main functions of the endocrine system is to manage our response to stress. It does this through hormones like epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and cortisol.
Cortisol is one of the main hormones when it comes to managing stress responses. It also participates in the control of metabolism, in memory and even in wound healing. The human body naturally produces cortisol in the adrenal gland.
Cortisol is vital to human survival and is responsible for mediating our natural “fight or flight” response. However, the increase in cortisol levels can cause us problems, producing symptoms that can range from weight gain, to mood swings to an increase in our anxiety.
Fortunately, CBD is believed to interfere with cortisol secretion, lowering its prevalence in plasma samples as a result. One double-blind study administered CBD or a placebo to 11 “normal” patients to determine their effects on plasma prolactin, growth hormone, and cortisol. Although prolactin and growth hormone levels remained the same in the presence of CBD, cortisone levels decreased significantly.
CBD AND INSULIN
Another important role of the endocrine system is the management of metabolism. One of the many ways it does this is by producing vital hormones in the pancreas. These hormones include glucagon, somatostatin, and insulin, among others.
Insulin is an important hormone that helps the body absorb and store nutrients from food. Without insulin, sugar from food would not be able to reach our bloodstream as individual cells.
As with cortisol (and most other hormones), insulin imbalances can have detrimental health effects. Too little insulin leads to increased blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), while too much insulin leads to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
One of the most common conditions that arise from problems with insulin is diabetes. People who have it have constantly high blood sugar levels because their bodies fight to make or use insulin properly.
A wide variety of research explored the effects of cannabinoids on metabolism, as well as the relationship between cannabinoids, insulin, and diabetes. Although the exact relationship between insulin and CBD is not clear, a 2006 study showed a clear drop in the incidence of diabetes in mice treated with CBD (from 86% to 30%). Other research has shown that CBD can have a direct impact on the functioning of the pancreas, ultimately affecting insulin production, blood sugar levels, and more.
CBD AND MELATONIN
It goes without saying that sleep is extremely important for good health. Our endocrine system actively participates in this process by producing hormones such as melatonin to induce sleep or manage energy levels. Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland of the brain.
Melatonin is one of the most important hormones involved in our sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm. Melatonin levels tend to rise overnight, leveling off in the morning. Environmental factors like darkness and exposure to blue light also affect melatonin levels.
The endocannabinoid system has shown its participation in sleep management. In fact, a study published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS One demonstrated that the endocannabinoid system directly regulates sleep stability through the activation of CB1 receptors.
Cannabinoid receptors have been found in many different glands of the endocrine system. By activating receptors in the pineal gland, CBD can help stimulate the secretion of sleep hormones like melatonin, affecting sleep and energy levels. Additionally, CBD could be a great complement to melatonin by impacting the sleep-wake cycle. Although CBD is not usually sedative in itself, its anxiolytic and calming qualities help to achieve a better rest.
CBD AND HOMEOSTASIS
Various studies have shown that cannabinoids such as CBD can have a direct influence on the production and secretion of hormones such as cortisol, insulin or melatonin. Furthermore, cannabinoids and the endocannabonoid system must have some influence on homeostasis.
Homeostasis refers to the internal balance that organisms need to function properly. In humans, homeostasis basically ensures that everything is in order. Some examples of the variables that maintain this balance include:
• Body temperature
• Heart rate
• Blood pressure
• Sleep cycle
One of the key areas responsible for regulating these variables is the hypothalamus, a region of the brain made up of groups of nerve cells located just below the brain stem. The hypothalamus is one of the main parts of the endocrine system.
Like other brain regions, the hypothalamus contains cannabinoid receptors. Research suggests that locating those receptors and stimulating them with cannabinoids like CBD, for example, can help manage all the processes required for homeostasis.
As we have seen, CBD and the endocannabinoid system are intertwined with the functioning of the endocrine system and the body’s hormonal production. For those looking to restore a sense of homeostasis in their body, it is worth experimenting with more sophisticated CBD formulations.
At Cibdol, we pride ourselves on producing some of the purest and strongest CBD products on the market today. Using European hemp that has been grown naturally, we produce high-quality CBD oils, creams, and supplements in our world-class Swiss laboratories.