The best way to understand CBD’s impact on your body is through knowing the basics of your body’s endocannabinoid system or ECS. Discovered in the 90s, the ECS is a cellular-level communication network. It’s responsible for maintaining homeostasis across all the body’s organs and physiological functions, including stress resilience, mood, sleep, appetite, inflammatory balance, and pain modulation.
The ECS is made up of cannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and specific enzymes. Cannabinoids can either be produced by the body (called endocannabinoids) or introduced from plants. The latter are called phytocannabinoids. CBD is just one of the more than 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
Each cannabinoid interacts with the body differently; THC is thought to bind directly to your cannabinoid receptors, which is why it may have psychoactive effects.
This is important because low cannabinoid levels have been linked to a variety of health concerns, including migraines. (Read more about endocannabinoid deficiencies here.)
Outside factors like nutritional deficiencies, stress, and environmental toxins can all cause low cannabinoid levels. For example, stress causes the body to create an enzyme that breaks down cannabinoids.
Introducing phytocannabinoids is a helpful way to support your body’s natural cannabinoid levels so it continues to perform as its best—which means supporting your body’s inflammatory response.
Of course, we’re still in the early stages of truly understanding how CBD helps with pain management, and the science (and theories) are sure to evolve as research continues.