What is CBD Oil & How Does it Work?

by | Dec 2, 2020 | CBD Crash Course

What is CBD Oil & How Does it Work for Your Body?

CBD Oil is a natural oil extracted from the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant, that contain a variety of active compounds, from beneficial cannabinoids to terpenes (which we will discuss later). The phytocannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD) is the predominant active compound in CBD Oil, from which it derives its name, and its function is described below. Other phytocannabinoids present in CBD Oil also serve to benefit mood and overall wellness.


CBD doesn’t have as high of an affinity of binding to the endocannabinoid receptors as other cannabinoids but can also work by influencing other receptors and enhancing levels of beneficial endocannabinoids. CBD does not have any psychoactive effects associated with THC.


One function of CBD is to inhibit the FAAH enzyme, thereby raising the amount of anandamide in the bloodstream available to the body. Inhibition of the FAAH enzyme has been shown to reduce anxiety-like responses(1). Additionally, CBD acts as a serotonin 5-HT1A Receptor Partial Agonist, which allows the body to bind serotonin.


Though the biological mechanisms for CBDs role in pain management and inflammation are still being fully explored, numerous studies have shown the cannabinoid to be effective in limiting inflammation and reducing sensitivity to acute and/or neuropathic pain.(2)(3)


One such study in the European Journal of Pain, showed transdermal (applied to the skin) CBD Oil to be effective in “limiting pain and significantly reducing joint swelling, limb posture score as a resort of spontaneous pain, immune cell infiltration, and thickening of the synovial membrane. [All] Indicating that topical application has therapeutic benefits for pain relief.(4)


The method by which CBD is believed to limit nociceptive (inflammatory) pain is by blocking inflammatory mediators and favoring the activation of anti-inflammatory macrophage repair cells over the proinflammatory variety.(5)(6)


CBD also enhances the activity of receptors in the brain for GABA, the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter which can dampen pain signals as they travel to the brain.(7)


Another type of pain, Neuropathic pain, is a result of injury or pinching to nerves which results in damage. This type of pain affects 7-10% of the population and can also be caused by the breakdown of cells resulting from diseases such as multiple sclerosis, or aggressive cancer treatments like chemotherapy. This type of pain can be more difficult to treat since it is not treatable by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.


CBD and cannabinoids have been shown benefit in addressing both cancer and non-cancer neuropathic pain in animal and human studies.(8)(9)(10) For instance, it helps to prevent chemotherapy-induced pain by activating serotonin receptors, and more importantly, it does so without reducing the efficacy of the chemotherapy in its role of eliminating cancer cells.(11) Furthermore, for types of pain that are better managed with THC, such as sciatic(12), CBD can still play an important role in limiting the ability of the body to form a tolerance to THC, prolonging the effectiveness of treatment.(13)


What are some of the other effects of CBD?


In general, side effects are very limited in CBD, typically to just drowsiness induced from being in a relaxed state. In fact, CBD is generally safe for almost everyone, including our pets!


In addition to the role in managing pain which we looked at in the previous section, we also know that cannabinoids act on the endocannabinoid system to positively modulate a variety of other aspects in our lives. For instance, CBD can positively affect our mood and limit the impact of anxiety in our lives through blocking the reuptake of serotonin1. Additionally, CBD can act as a sleep aid, providing us with a better night of rest and promoting overall wellness.


Perhaps most promising, CBD has been approved by the FDA as a treatment for juvenile epilepsy in humans, via the drug Epidiolex.(14) 



1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17709120

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5690292/

3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001429990601257X

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4851925/

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29079445

6. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cbdv.200790150

7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1043661816311392

8. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001429990601257X

9. https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2011.03970.x

10. https://www.ejinme.com/article/S0953-6205(18)30019-0/abstract

11. https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bph.12439

12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/

13. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304394096133085?via%3Dihub

14. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms

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