How does cbd work

CBD 101: How Does CBD Work and What You Need to Know

How does CBD work? It's a question that many people are asking as more and more states legalize medicinal and recreational cannabis. To understand how CBD works, it is important to have a basic understanding of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and how cannabinoids interact with it.

This article explores how CBD works, paying close attention to the relationship between CBD and the ECS. We also provide insight into how CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors and neurotransmitters. And finally, we will discuss where to find quality CBD products.

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural compound found in the cannabis or hemp plant. Unlike its more famous cousin, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD produces no mind-altering effects. Instead, it works with your body's natural systems to relieve pain, inflammation, anxiety, and other ailments. 

CBD is sourced from hemp and cannabis plants, both of which are rich in cannabinoids. Hemp is typically higher in CBD, while cannabis is more abundant in THC (the compound responsible for the "high"). So, depending on your needs and preferences, you can choose the plant source that best suits your lifestyle. 

Aside from its raw form, you can also get CBD in the form of gummies and oils. The benefit of CBD gummies, as opposed to raw CBD, is that gummies contain pre-measured doses of CBD, making them a convenient and discreet way to take your daily dose. They are also more palatable than raw CBD, as the sweet taste masks the earthy flavor of hemp extract. Additionally, unlike other forms of CBD, gummies do not require any preparation or measurement, making them an ideal CBD product for busy people. 

CBD and the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

CBD interacts with your body's endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS comprises cannabinoid receptors and neurotransmitters regulating various physiological functions, such as sleep, appetite, mood, and pain. CBD works by interacting with the ECS and signaling it to produce more endocannabinoids (the body's cannabinoids) to help the body maintain homeostasis (balance).

What is ECS?

The ECS is an intricate network of receptors, neurotransmitters, and enzymes that helps regulate many bodily functions. It is responsible for helping your body maintain homeostasis—or equilibrium—in response to stimuli. 

The components of the ECS include cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes that all work together to help regulate physiological processes like pain sensation, sleep, mood, and appetite.

Role of ECS in the Body

The ECS plays an important role in the body by regulating homeostasis—or balance. It helps regulate many physiological processes essential for health and well-being, such as immune response, inflammation, pain sensation, mood, appetite, and sleep.

Overview of how CBD Interacts With ECS Receptors (CB1 and CB2)

CB1 and CB2 are the two main types of cannabinoid receptors found in the ECS. They regulate many physiological processes, including pain sensation, mood, appetite, and sleep. CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are more common in the peripheral nervous system. CB1 receptors are responsible for the psychoactive effects associated with THC, while CB2 receptors play an important role in the immune system.

CBD binds to both types of cannabinoid receptors and helps regulate their activity. For example, CBD can interact with CB2 receptors to reduce inflammation while helping activate CB1 receptors to reduce pain.

CBD also affects the ECS signaling pathways in the same way as it affects the ECS receptors. ECS signaling pathways are responsible for how the ECS communicates with the rest of the body. CBD helps to activate these pathways to reduce pain, inflammation, and other symptoms associated with various ailments. It can also help regulate mood and sleep by affecting the ECS signaling pathways of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.


how does cbd affect you

How Does CBD Work?

So how does CBD work? CBD works by interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS). It binds to cannabinoid receptors and stimulates them to produce more endocannabinoids. This helps to bring balance and harmony to your body, allowing you to experience relief from various ailments. CBD also affects the signaling pathways of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. These combined effects make CBD a powerful tool for promoting health and well-being. 

CBD and Cannabinoid Receptors

Types of Cannabinoid Receptors

As stated earlier, there are two main types of cannabinoid receptors; the CB1 and the CB2.

CB1 Receptors

CB1 receptors, primarily located in the brain and central nervous system, play an essential role in providing the psychoactive effects correlated with THC. Additionally, these receptors help control moods, cravings for food, and restful sleep.

CB2 Receptors

The CB2 receptor, located primarily in the outermost areas of our nervous and immune systems, is responsible for helping to manage inflammation and gauging pain.

How CBD Interacts with Cannabinoid Receptors

CBD binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors but in different ways, and depending on how it interacts with the receptors, it can act as an agonist, antagonist, or inverse agonist.

Agonists bind to the cannabinoid receptor and activate it, thus mimicking the activity of endocannabinoids (the cannabinoids naturally produced by the body). 

When CBD acts as an agonist, it increases the activity of the receptor and may help reduce symptoms like inflammation, pain sensation, and anxiety. Antagonists bind to cannabinoid receptors but do not activate them. 

CBD can act as an antagonist to CB1 receptors to reduce the psychoactive effects associated with THC. An inverse agonist binds to the receptor and decreases its activity, which can be beneficial in some cases. For example, CBD can act as an inverse agonist for CB2 receptors to reduce inflammation.

Effects of CBD on the Body

When it comes to the physical effects of CBD, research suggests that it can help alleviate various symptoms. CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation, pain sensation, anxiety, nausea and vomiting, seizures, and even certain types of cancer. Additionally, studies suggest that it may be useful for reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

what does cbd do to the brain

What Does CBD Do to the Brain

Definition of Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers released from neurons and bind to receptors to transmit signals throughout the nervous system. They are important in controlling various functions like mood, pain sensation, memory, and learning.

How CBD Affects Neurotransmitters

CBD interacts with neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate. CBD binds to serotonin receptors in the brain, which can help regulate mood and reduce anxiety levels. Similarly, it binds to dopamine receptors to boost cognitive function and improve mood. It also binds to glutamate receptors and reduces their activity, benefiting people with neurological conditions such as epilepsy or Alzheimer's.

Effects of CBD on the Nervous System

CBD, a cannabinoid, has direct and indirect effects on this system. Its direct effects include analgesic (pain-relieving) properties when it binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors and anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) properties when it binds to serotonin receptors. CBD may also modulate neuronal excitability and reduce inflammation. 

This helps promote calmness, clarity of thought, and improved focus. Its indirect effects include modulating neurotransmitter signaling and preventing enzymes from breaking down certain neurotransmitters, which can influence how signals are transmitted throughout the nervous system.

Other Potential Mechanisms of CBD

Anti-inflammatory properties of CBD

Inflammations cause pain, swelling, and discomfort, and CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce these symptoms. It binds to CB2 receptors in immune cells, which helps regulate inflammation and reduces the production of pro-inflammatory molecules such as cytokines. This especially benefits people suffering from inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn's disease. It can also reduce the side effects of certain treatments, such as chemotherapy.

Antioxidant Properties of CBD

CBD also has antioxidant properties, which help protect the body against oxidative stress-induced damage. Oxidative stress is a state of imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body and can lead to various health problems such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. CBD scavenges for free radicals responsible for oxidative damage and prevents them from damaging cells. This helps protect the body against oxidative stress and prevents it from developing these health problems.

Possible Effects of CBD on Gene Expression

Gene expressions are changes in gene activity due to environmental or other stimuli. CBD has been shown to modulate gene expression in both bacteria and animals. It can influence the transcription of certain genes, leading to changes in cellular signaling pathways. This can benefit conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases.

what does cbd do

Benefits of CBD

Here are some of the major potential benefits associated with CBD:


CBD has shown promising results in reducing seizures and improving the quality of life for people with epilepsy. By interacting with receptors in the nervous system, CBD helps regulate electrical activity in the brain, reducing seizure frequency and severity.


The calming effects of CBD can help soothe the mind, relax the body, and reduce anxiety symptoms. Many patients have reported a sense of calm and relaxation after using CBD, making it a potential natural alternative for anxiety relief.


CBD has been shown to modulate certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which plays a key role in regulating mood. By positively influencing serotonin levels in the brain, CBD may help alleviate symptoms of depression and improve overall mental well-being.

Chronic Pain

CBD's analgesic properties offer a glimmer of hope. CBD interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body's endocannabinoid system, reducing pain and inflammation. CBD is a potential option for managing chronic pain conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and neuropathy.

Alzheimer's Disease

CBD's anti-inflammatory properties and ability to modulate gene expression have shown the potential to reduce brain inflammation and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. While more research is needed, the early findings are promising.

Clinical Trials on the Effectiveness of CBD

While CBD has shown promising results in some preclinical studies, it is essential to note that the current body of clinical research on CBD is limited, and there are several significant limitations to consider. One of the primary limitations is the need for standardized dosages and formulations of CBD used in different studies, making it difficult to compare results across trials. 

Additionally, the sample sizes of many CBD clinical trials have been small, which can affect the statistical power and generalizability of the findings. More research is needed to fully understand its safety profile, particularly with prolonged use and in different populations, such as pregnant women, children, and older adults.

Despite these limitations, ongoing research in CBD clinical trials holds promise for the future. Several trials are underway investigating CBD's potential therapeutic effects on various health conditions. For example, clinical trials are exploring CBD's efficacy in treating epilepsy, chronic pain, anxiety disorders, and sleep disorders. These trials employ rigorous methodologies, including randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and double-blind, placebo-controlled designs, considered the gold standard in clinical research.

Safety and Side Effects of CBD

CBD is generally considered safe, but it can cause some side effects. Common side effects include nausea, fatigue, dry mouth, and changes in appetite or weight. It can also interact with certain medications and may cause liver damage in high doses. Therefore, speaking to a healthcare professional before using CBD for therapeutic purposes and following the recommended dosage guidelines is important.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do CBDs Work?

CBD interacts with receptors in the body's endocannabinoid system, modulating different physiological processes such as pain, mood, and memory. It also interacts with other neurotransmitters, like serotonin and GABA, which play a key role in regulating mood and anxiety.

What Does CBD Do To The Brain?

CBD influences pathways in the brain that regulate certain neurotransmitters. It doesn't do anything negative to the brain but instead modulates key neurotransmitters that may be beneficial for certain medical conditions.

How Does CBD Oil Work?

CBD oil is extracted from the hemp plant and contains a high concentration of cannabidiol. Like with other CBD products, CBD oil works by interacting with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body's endocannabinoid system.

How Long Does CBD Take To Work?

The effects of CBD can vary, but generally, it takes between 30 minutes to two hours for the effects to take hold and it can take longer to leave your system. Everyone's body is different, so the time frame can vary. It's important to start with a low dose and increase gradually until you find what works for you.


So is CBD good for you? While there is still much to learn about CBD, the evidence suggests that it may offer various health benefits for a wide range of conditions. CBD has emerged as a potential therapeutic option for various medical conditions. Its interaction with receptors in the nervous system, anti-inflammatory properties, and ability to modulate neurotransmitters make it a fascinating area of research for medical professionals. 

As the understanding of CBD continues to grow, it may offer new hope and relief for patients suffering from various medical conditions such as epilepsy, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and Alzheimer's disease.

Where To Get Premium CBD Products

Looking for where to buy premium CBD products online? Try Serene Sensei. From CBD tinctures and roll-ons to CBD for pets, all our products are third-party tested and made in the USA. Check out our products on our menu, or contact our support team for any questions.

how does cbd work
Back to blog