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Category: About CBD, CBD Benefits

CBD: What is CBD and how does it interact with our bodies?

what is CBD

Written by our editorial team

Last updated 6/03/2021

In the last couple of decades, important discoveries have been made on cannabinoids and how they interact with various receptors in our body. So far, we have discussed three major cannabinoids found in Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, namely THCv, CBC and CBG. But we have not yet talked about CBD, which is the most studied cannabinoid next to THC.

Since cannabis is known to produce intoxication when smoked or ingested, people often wrongly assume that the entire plant is psychoactive, but this is not the case. Out of the many cannabinoids studied so far, only a few have strong psychoactive effects high and CBD is not one of them. This means that CBD will not get you high.

But this is far from saying that CBD produces no effect. In fact, it has been found that CBD has a broad range of use cases and beneficial effects. It can be used to relieve pain, reduce anxiety and depression, alleviate cancer-related symptoms, treat acne, reduce blood pressure, prevent diabetes and so on. But we will discuss all the benefits of CBD in our next article.

Before we get there, let us first say a few words about CBD, its structure and its interaction with the cannabinoid receptors found in our bodies. This basic knowledge about CBD will help you better understand the effects that we will discuss in our upcoming post. Do not worry – we promise we will not go into detail too much.


[3-minute read]

CBD will not get you high.
CBD does not bind directly to cannabinoid receptors.
It does, however, interact with certain non-cannabinoid receptors, such as the serotonin receptor.

  • The serotonin receptor is responsible for binding serotonin, which is one of the four happiness hormones.

It also interacts with the TPRV1 receptor, which is involved in the management of inflammation and pain.
CBD works well in combination with other cannabinoids, such as CBC.
CBD is available in various forms:

  • Natural cannabis,
  • CBD drops,
  • A variety of products that contain CBD as one of the active ingredients.

1. What is CBD?

CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found abundantly in Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. It was discovered in 1963, which makes it the second cannabinoid identified in cannabis.[1] Just like other major cannabinoids, such as THC, THCv, CBC and CBG, it stems from CBGA. This means that the molecular structure of CBD is relatively similar to that of other major cannabinoids.

But they are not the same. No matter how minor the differences between them, they make all the difference! For instance, if we compare the skeletal formulae of CBD and THC, the major part of the two molecules looks exactly the same. The only part of the molecule that is not the same is the lower left part (Figure 1). But these seemingly minor structural differences account for entirely different effects and interactions with the endocannabinoid system.

Figure 1: Structural difference between CBD and THC molecules

CBD - Structural difference between CBD and THC molecules

2. Interaction of CBD with receptors in the human body

Unlike THC, which binds to CB1 receptors to produce intoxicating effects, CBD binds to neither CB1 nor CB2 receptors. However, this does not mean that it does not impact them. Its interaction with the cannabinoid receptors is more complex and not yet entirely understood, but scientists are convinced that it does in some way influence both major cannabinoid receptors.[4] [6]

What is more interesting about CBD is that it also interacts with a variety of other, non-cannabinoid receptors in our bodies. One of the most important receptors that CBD activates is the serotonin receptor known as 5-HT1A.[2] This receptor binds serotonin, which is one of the four types of happiness hormones – the other three being oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins.

Since this receptor plays an important role in various mental health disorders, CBD can play an integral role in the all-natural treatment of various conditions, such as depression[8], post-traumatic stress disorder[7] and anxiety[3]. It should be noted that CBD works well in combination with other cannabinoids, such as CBC, which increase its beneficial effects.[5]

Another major non-cannabinoid receptor that CBD affects is the TPRV1 receptor.[2] The TPRV1 receptor is responsible for managing inflammation and pain, which explains certain anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of CBD.

3. CBD is available in a variety of forms

CBD obtained from cannabis is commercially available in various forms that mostly differ from one another in the content of CBD and in the content of other substances, including different cannabinoids:

  1. CBD can be safely consumed in its natural form – the flowers of the cannabis plant. However, if you decide to consume the flowers, make sure you consume varieties that contain little to no THC if you want to avoid its intoxicating effects.
  2. CBD is also available as a CBD oil. This is the safest method for those who only want to consume CBD and want to avoid consuming other cannabinoids, which may have undesirable or conflicting effects. These oils come in a variety of different concentrations. Lower concentrations have mild effects and promote general well-being [a perfect source of general wellness can be a Well-Being Oil with 5% CBD]. Whereas higher concentrations are more potent and can reduce the level of stress and promote sleep [a 15% CBD Sweet Dreams Oil can be a perfect solution for relaxation and good-night sleep]. In addition, a mid concentration CBD oil may be both uplifting and relaxing [Good Mood Oil with 10%CBD].
  3. Last but not least, CBD is also used as an active ingredient in various cosmetic, beauty and hygiene products:


Now that you know all the basics about CBD and how it interacts with your body, you can easily learn more. In our next article, we will explore the health benefits of CBD in more detail. We will focus on those conditions where CBD has been studied extensively, such as acne, diabetes, cancer, depression. It has even been proven beneficial in treating substance addiction. Stay tuned!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Bibliography and sources

  1. Atakan, Z. “Cannabis, a complex plant: Different compounds and different effects on individuals.” Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology vol. 2,6 (2012): 241-54. [doi:10.1177/2045125312457586]
  2. De Gregorio, D. et al. “Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain.” Pain vol. 160,1 (2019): 136-150. [doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001386]
  3. Grinspoon, P. “Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t”. Health Harvard Publishing. 24 August 2018. Accessed on 22 March 2021. [URL:]
  4. Health Europa. “CBD: understanding how CBD works with our bodies”. Medical Cannabis Network by Health Europa. 20 January 2020. Accessed on 22 March 2021. [URL:]
  5. Maurya, N. and Velmurugan, B. K. “Therapeutic applications of cannabinoids”. Chemico-Biological Interactions. 2018 Sep 25;293:77-88. [doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2018.07.018]
  6. Pertwee, R. G. “The diverse CB1 and CB2 receptor pharmacology of three plant cannabinoids: delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and delta9-tetrahydrocannabivarin.” British journal of pharmacology vol. 153,2 (2008): 199-215. [doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0707442]
  7. Shannon, S. and Opila-Lehman, J. “Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report.” The Permanente journal vol. 20,4 (2016): 16-005. [doi:10.7812/TPP/16-005]
  8. Zanelati, T. V. et al. “Antidepressant-like effects of cannabidiol in mice: possible involvement of 5-HT1A receptors.” British journal of pharmacology vol. 159,1 (2010): 122-8. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2009.00521.x
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