How do cannabinoid receptors work?

CBD info

Cannabinoid receptors are all over our bodies. More importantly, they act as a crucial entry point for wellness-boosting compounds. Read on to find out what cannabinoid receptors are and how they work.

What are cannabinoid receptors?

Cannabinoid receptors are G protein-coupled receptor complexes[1], which help the body to interact with various chemical compounds. But actually, there is a much easier way to understand what they are.

The easiest way to imagine cannabinoid receptors is as if they were an antenna, similar to the one on a car or television.

A car antenna receives signals from an external source and transmits that information to the radio. But to prevent you from receiving all the radio stations at once, each transmission is assigned a frequency. All you have to do is tune the radio to the correct station, so that the antenna maintains the signal.

Cannabinoid receptors work in the same way. Except that, in his case, we traded the car for the human body and the radio for various cells and biological functions.

Cannabinoid receptors help process and receive chemical compounds, transmitting their information to cells throughout our bodies. Cells can then use that information to help regulate vital functions like sleep, mood, appetite, metabolism, and immune response.

When were cannabinoid receptors discovered?

Despite what we know about the important role cannabinoid receptors play in balancing well-being, they were discovered only recently, at least by scientific standards.

• 1980s: Scientists discover CB1 receptors
• 1992: the endocannabinoid system (ECS) enters the scene, a vast network connecting all cannabinoid receptors
• 1993: CB2s, the second cannabinoid receptors, are identified

So far, researchers have identified two main types of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). However, one of the reasons these receptors have taken so long to be discovered has to do with how they are activated.

Although there are chemicals in our bodies that communicate with CB1 and CB2 receptors, the compounds that cause the widest range of interactions are those found in Cannabis sativa.

The Cannabis sativa species includes hemp (the main source of CBD), but also illegal variations, such as marijuana. Considering that the best test subjects are banned in many parts of the world, it is quite a challenge to study how cannabinoid receptors work.

How do cannabinoid receptors work?

As for the CB1 and CB2 receptors, they interact with two main groups of compounds. The first is the neurotransmitters in the body and the second is the phytocannabinoids found in Cannabis sativa, such as CBD.

Despite the difference in their sources of origin, both internal and external compounds interact in the same way with CB receptors, using a lock and key mechanism.

For any of the groups of compounds to interact, they must have the correct shape, which in technical terms means the proper chemical structure. CB1 and CB2 receptors have slightly different “locks” and only accept compounds that match their shape. This biological lock and key system is the reason that compounds like CBD only interact with specific receptors, not all.

Where are cannabinoid receptors found?

As we mentioned before, the function of cannabinoid receptors is to receive and transmit specific signals. Receptors in our immune system, for example, transmit signals that aid in our inflammatory response, while receptors in our brain can influence mood or appetite.

It is important to note that the CB1 and CB2 receptors are not together, but in different parts of the body. For example, the brain is home to the vast majority of CB1 receptors, while the digestive tract contains a large number of CB2 sites.

Regions with the highest concentration of cannabinoid receptors include:

• Brain (central nervous system)
• Liver
• Reproductive system
• Cardiovascular system
• Skin
• Gastrointestinal tract
• Immune system
• Peripheral nervous system

How many cannabinoid receptors are there in the human body?

Researchers are working hard to establish the full scope of the cannabinoid receptors we have identified and the impact they have on well-being. Considering that we have receivers from head to toe, it is clear that there is a lot to study.

In addition to CB1 and CB2, scientists believe there are many more receptors that act in a similar way.[2]. But since the discovery of CB receptors is so recent, there is still a lot to learn about them, and who knows, there may be several that we don’t know about yet.

How does CBD interact with cannabinoid receptors?

It makes sense to end our discussion of cannabinoid receptors with how they communicate with CBD. The truth is that neither CB1 nor CB2 receptors show much affinity for CBD, but that doesn’t mean their relationship is meaningless!

CBD takes on a more supportive role for cannabinoid receptors. Instead of interacting with them directly, it favors their union with other compounds. The benefit of encouraging interaction is that the results are more pronounced. Using the car radio analogy, the stronger the signal, the higher the quality and the better a radio station sounds.

By taking on the role of ‘CEO’, the CBD ensures that the entire receiver network is working as it should. When a cannabinoid receptor system is fully operational, the body is better equipped to deal with diseases and disorders that could throw it out of balance.

If you want to experience the mediating effects of CBD firsthand, visit the Cibdol store for access to a full selection of CBD oils, capsules and cosmetics. And if you are interested in the potential of cannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoid system, and want to access more information, consult our CBD Encyclopedia.

[1] Mackie, K. (2018). Cannabinoid receptors: where they are and what they do. PubMed. [Referencia]

[2] Ryberg, E., Larsson, N., & Sjögren, S. (2007). The orphan receptor GPR55 is a novel cannabinoid receptor. NCBI. [Referencia]

[1] Mackie, K. (2018). Cannabinoid receptors: where they are and what they do. PubMed. [Referencia]

[2] Ryberg, E., Larsson, N., & Sjögren, S. (2007). The orphan receptor GPR55 is a novel cannabinoid receptor. NCBI. [Referencia]

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