About 30 years ago, cannabis research led to the discovery of the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a molecular signaling system that works to ensure homeostasis—or equilibrium—within our bodies, especially during times of stress. This was when researchers first discovered receptors for THC—a psychoactive cannabinoid from marijuana—and then, shortly afterward, the body’s own endogenous cannabinoids.

An easy way to understand how the endocannabinoid system works is to think of it as a lock and key mechanism. The cannabinoid receptors are the locks, and the endocannabinoids are the keys. When the endocannabinoids bind to the cannabinoid receptors, they are able to produce physiological responses necessary for keeping cells alive and healthy.

In fact, you can say that the endocannabinoid system is one of the most important systems in the body because its main function is to maintain balance and homeostasis.

Despite the fact that there are all kinds of studies and intense research is being performed about the ways that CBD works in the body, what scientists do know for a fact is that CBD, just like THC, causes a broad range of effects in our bodies by interacting with the endocannabinoid system which includes two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2 receptors.

CB1 receptors can be found in many areas of the brain, and they play an essential role in functions such as mood, memory, sleep, pain sensation, and appetite.

CB2 receptors are usually found in the immune system are they are responsible for marijuana’s anti-inflammatory effects.

Endocannabinoids typically activate both CB1 and CB2 receptors, and the main endocannabinoids that are found in our body are anandamide and arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG).

THC mimics the effects of the body’s endocannabinoids by also activating both CB1 and CB2 receptors. But, unlike THC, CBD doesn’t seem to act directly on cannabinoid receptors. Instead, it works indirectly on cannabinoid receptors, and it boosts the levels of endocannabinoids in the body. CBD can stimulate the release of endocannabinoids, and it also interferes with their natural breakdown.