The human body is complex. It contains many different systems that perform a variety of essential functions. One system that many often ignore is the endocannabinoid system (ECS). That’s the system that helps to maintain internal balance. When something isn’t right, it triggers the body to create endocannabinoids to restore homeostasis. Cannabinoids in cannabis function like your natural endocannabinoids. They even bind with the CB1 receptor, helping you to take control of your ECS and your overall health and well-being.

What Are CB1 Receptors?

The endocannabinoid system consists of a few components: endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes. Your ECS contains two types of cannabinoid (CB) receptors, CB1 and CB2 receptors. While CB receptors exist throughout the ECS (which itself exists in various parts of your body), you’ll find CB1 receptors mainly in the brain and spinal cord. They also live on the nerve cells of some surrounding organs, including the spleen, reproductive system, and gastrointestinal tract. 

THC and CB1 Receptors

The natural endocannabinoids your body makes and releases on-demand bind with the CB1 receptors to unlock specific effects to restore balance. Once they complete their job, your ECS releases enzymes that essentially dissolve them. 

THC works similar to your natural endocannabinoids. When you inhale smoke or vapor, use a tincture, or eat an edible, the cannabinoid enters your bloodstream and travels to your brain. Once there, it binds with the CB1 receptors, unlocking similar effects.

CB 1

What Happens When Cannabinoids Activate Your CB1 Receptors?

So, what is it that happens when THC (and other cannabinoids) bind with a CB1 receptor? Like your natural endocannabinoids, THC unlocks a variety of effects. These effects include:

  • Pain relief
  • Sedation
  • Reduced nausea
  • An increased appetite (the “munchies”)
  • Euphoria (the high you feel when you use cannabis)

While THC can provide many positive benefits, flooding your system can actually have unwanted effects. One of the most common is getting too high, which can lead to paranoia, anxiety, rapid heart rate, and more. 

Does CBD Bind with CB1 Receptors?

While THC, one of the most abundant cannabinoids in cannabis, has an affinity for CB1 receptors, CBD does not. In fact, it does not bind with either CB1 or CB2 receptors. The molecules are too large to fit properly.

CBD might not bind with CB1 receptors, but it can still play a role in your ECS. It can block THC from binding, which can dampen the high. That’s the reason why a high THC high CBD strain may not feel as potent as a high THC low to no CBD strain. The cannabinoid also provides other benefits by interacting with serotonin and vanilloid receptors, producing effects like reducing inflammation and easing stress. 

In short, CBD might not bind with CB1 receptors, but it can still play an important role in the effects you feel when you use cannabis.

Understanding Your ECS

The endocannabinoid system helps to ensure balance within your body. When something’s off, it releases natural endocannabinoids in an attempt to help. Cannabinoids in cannabis function similarly. They bind with your CB1 receptors, helping you to feel and function better. When you understand how these receptors, and your ECS as a whole, work, you can more accurately take action to get the relief you need and restore your internal balance.