How does CBD Oil work? Introducing the Endocannabinoid System



Firstly, we need to understand that cannabinoids are not only found in cannabis plants!

The human body produces its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. These naturally produced cannabinoids are used, by a system named the endocannabinoid system, to regulate how messages are sent, received and processed by the body cells.

The endocannabinoid system exists throughout all the different body systems – the brain, the nervous system, the heart, liver, pancreas and reproductive system. It regulates messages being transmitted throughout the nervous system and can ensure happy or relaxed messages are being effectively transmitted. It can also help to control pain messages.

A disrupted endocannabinoid system has therefore been associated with a wide variety of health problems, including: anxiety, stress, insomnia, poor appetite control, digestive issues, pain and inflammation.


There are several different cannabinoids which can work with the endocannabinoid system:

• Endocannabinoids – The natural cannabinoids produced by the body

• Phyto cannabinoids – The cannabinoids found in plants like hemp and cannabis

• Synthetic cannabinoids – The potent cannabinoids manufactured by pharmaceutical companies and available to some people on prescription.


The first phyto-cannabinoid to be identified is known as THC (tetrahydro cannabinoid). This is found in high concentrations in marijuana and is the substance linked to the ‘high’ people associate with cannabis. Marijuana comes from a species of cannabis known as Cannabis indicas.

In recent years another cannabinoid – CBD (cannabidiol) – has also received a lot of publicity. CBD is found in high concentrations in another cannabis species, Cannabis sativa, which is also known as industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is used to produce hemp oil, hemp seeds and hemp fibres, and is completely legal to grow and sell. This is because industrial hemp naturally contains very low levels of THC, so does not cause a ‘high’ and is not linked with any addictive properties.

CBD is thought to exert a balancing effect within the endocannabinoid system. This means that those symptoms which have been linked to disruptions within the endocannabinoid system could be eased by taking CBD.

Written by Jenny Logan DNMed (Jenny is a nutritional therapist who has worked with clients in health food stores and private clinics for over 20 years.)

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