How does CBD work? A short introduction

How does CBD work

How does CBD work? A short introduction

  • CBD works by influencing the body’s endocannabinoid system, a cell-signalling network found throughout the body.
  • Unlike certain other cannabinoids, CBD doesn’t bind fully to receptors and is thought to affect the body indirectly.
  • By preventing the break down of endocannabinoids, CBD helps the endocannabinoid system to maintain a balanced internal state.

As CBD continues to grow in popularity around the world, science is still making new discoveries about how this cannabinoid works in the human body. While research is still limited, clinical evidence indicates that CBD offers numerous potential health benefits and may have a positive effect on a range of conditions, including chronic pain, anxiety, and sleep issues. But how does CBD work to deliver these potential benefits? Read on to find out.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of around 140 cannabinoids found in the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa).

It is the main active ingredient in hemp-derived products, such as CBD oils, CBD capsules, CBD edibles, and CBD balms.

Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the controlled cannabinoid that causes a cerebral high, CBD does not intoxicate the user or cause addiction, making it safe and legal for consumption.

How does CBD work in the body?

So, how does CBD work? CBD works by influencing the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex cell-signalling network of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors and enzymes found throughout the body.

The ECS regulates many important bodily processes, including sleep, mood, pain and appetite, and helps to keep the body in a healthy and balanced state (homeostasis).

To understand how CBD supports the ECS, we first need to understand the endocannabinoid system’s three main components:

1. Endocannabinoids

Endocannabinoids (“endogenous cannabinoids”) are molecules produced by the body. They act as chemical messengers, binding to cannabinoid receptors in order to inform the ECS when the body is out of balance (for example, when there is pain or inflammation).

The two main endocannabinoids are anandamide (AEA), which affects the brain’s reward system, and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), which helps to regulate the circulatory system.

2. Cannabinoid (CB) Receptors

Cannabinoid receptors facilitate communication between endocannabinoids and the ECS. The two main cannabinoid receptor types are CB1 and CB2: CB1 receptors are located primarily in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are mainly found in the immune system and peripheral organs.

3. Enzymes

Enzymes break down endocannabinoids once they have carried out their function. The two main enzymes involved in this process are fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which breaks down anandamide, and monoacylglycerol acid lipase, which breaks down 2-AG.

How does CBD work in the ECS?

While some phytocannabinoids (“plant cannabinoids”), like CBN and THC, imitate the activity of endocannabinoids by binding directly to cannabinoid receptors in order to affect the body, scientists believe that CBD only binds weakly to cannabinoid receptors and instead affects the body indirectly.

So, how does CBD work in the ECS? One of the ways it does this is by occupying the site of enzymatic activity and preventing the enzyme FAAH from breaking down endocannabinoids like anandamide. By doing this, CBD indirectly increases endocannabinoid levels within the body, enabling them to continue supporting the function of the ECS, and contributing to the maintenance of a balanced and healthy internal state.

Moreover, if CBD is consumed along with traceable THC (e.g. in medical cannabis), the extended presence of anandamide and other endocannabinoids can in turn prevent THC from binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and producing a ‘high’. In this way, CBD may also indirectly counteract the intoxicating effects of THC.

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How does CBD work FAQs

What are the effects of CBD?

As mentioned above, CBD has been shown to offer many potential health benefits. For a detailed exploration of these benefits, check out our dedicated blog article: What are the effects of CBD oil?

How long does CBD Oil take to work for anxiety?

According to studies conducted in 2015, researchers found that current evidence indicates that CBD has potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders. However, there is still a need for further study of chronic and therapeutic effects in relevant clinical populations. 

Regarding how long CBD Oil takes to work for anxiety, in a 2018 study, subjects received CBD before undergoing a public speaking test. The researchers found that a CBD Oil dosage administered 90 minutes before the test, was enough to reduce the speaker’s anxiety significantly.

How long does it take for CBD gummies to work?

Like other ingestible CBD products, CBD gummies have to pass through the digestive system before entering the bloodstream, meaning it takes longer to take effect (30-90 minutes) than CBD oil drops. 

However, these effects can last for approximately six to eight hours; while they are not ideal for people who need to feel the effects of CBD quickly, they are a good option for those looking for a sustained, slow-release effect.

Does CBD Interact with medications?

In the debate of whether CBD interacts with medications, CBD tends not to interfere with most medications. It’s essential to speak with your healthcare provider before taking CBD, to ensure it’s the best option for you. 

However, further research is needed to understand the potential interactions between CBD and medications fully.

Which is the best CBD Oil?

All of Naturecan’s products are created using industry-leading technology and undergo rigorous testing practices with third parties to ensure product quality, customer safety and supply chain transparency.

Our CBD oil is a broad-spectrum distillate with non-detectable levels of THC (0.01%). It is derived exclusively from certified organic US-grown hemp plants. We never use isolates or any man-made synthetic material – only ever natural, plant-based CBD. This is why we believe our CBD Oil at Naturecan is the best.


So, in answer to the question on the lips of many scientists, “How does CBD work?”, the evidence we have garnered so far suggests that CBD works indirectly by supporting the function of the endocannabinoid system. However, this evidence is still limited, and more research is needed to fully understand how CBD affects the body.

how does cbd work?


Disclaimer: There is currently insufficient evidence to support the use of CBD in the condition(s) mentioned above and this text by no means reflects recommended uses. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional if you are taking prescribed medication or are thinking of using CBD for your condition.

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Alex Coughlan
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