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What does CBD do?

CBD is one of the most on-trend products that you can buy. Heralded as a health cure for everything from anxiety and depression, insomnia and every type of conceivable pain, the CBD market has swollen dramatically. But, many people ask – What does CBD do? We have the answers.

There’s so much written about CBD it’s hard to know the facts from the fiction… So, if you want to know all about CBD, and if it can help you, it’s essential to understand what you’re buying before you spend – you’ll need to educate yourself about everything to do with CBD from seed to shelf.

Because the range of medicinal benefits claimed for CBD is vast and includes everything from reducing epileptic seizures; the lessening of chronic pain and inflammation; overcoming insomnia and nausea; managing anxiety and stress; quitting smoking; reduce minimizing effects of drug and alcohol withdrawal; combating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and helping stop the spread of certain cancers – and all this just for starters…

Before we look at what CBD does lets quickly define what CBD is. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of 113 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It is one of the most abundant of these compounds, along with THC. However, it is important to note that unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. In short, it will not get you ‘high’. CBD products that are sold legally in the UK need to have less than 0.2% THC content. At this level of THC, it will have no such effects. CBD has been the subject of many studies, most have shown health benefits. Lots of people have heard this, so more and more people are taking CBD.  But, most people don’t know why it does anything at all.  So this brings us to the interesting part, what does it do? Well, quite a lot actually…

What Does CBD Do to Your Brain and Body?

CBD has been shown to affect brain activity and bodily processes. Putting it simply, and without trying to make this a science lesson, there are two primary receptors in the human body that CBD interacts with, CB1 and CB2.

CBD impacts the CB2 receptors and, in turn, entices the human body to make its cannabinoids which has a positive effect on the body’s pain and immune system.

The possible benefits attributed are down to effects on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS contains endocannabinoids, naturally produced cannabinoids that bind to receptors located throughout the body and help regulate things such as appetite, pain and memory.

There is also a strong possibility that CBD reduces oxidative stress, which occurs at the cellular level. Cells produce free radicals whenever they generate energy, and environmental toxins also produce this waste product. The body produces and uses the antioxidants to deal with free radical production and ensure the damage they cause is minimized.

CBD, therefore, appears for many to be the magic ingredient when it comes to the receptors and the teamwork with the endocannabinoid system in your body.  Cannabinoid therapy has the potential to assist those with autoimmune conditions by decreasing systemic inflammation, with little to no side effects, unlike conventional medicinal treatments.

What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?

CBD interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our Endocannabinoid System (ECS). These receptors are located throughout our bodies, particularly in the brain and along the spinal cord. One 2008 study found that ‘CBD displays unexpectedly high potency’ in interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our bodies. The study found that could be the explanation for such ‘a broad range of therapeutic effects’.

The ECS is responsible for regulating many bodily processes with the goal of achieving homeostasis, a balanced equilibrium that promotes wellbeing and favourable health. For example, achieving a healthy sleeping pattern is very helpful to overall good mental and physical health. A 2020 study concluded ‘It is becoming increasingly evident that endocannabinoids play a prominent role in sleep and sleep neurophysiology, and cannabinoid drugs alter these processes’. Whilst we are still learning what precisely the ES does, it has been linked to the following processes:

  • appetite and digestion
  • metabolism
  • chronic pain
  • inflammation and other immune system responses
  • mood
  • learning and memory
  • motor control
  • sleep
  • cardio system function
  • muscle formation
  • bone re-modelling and growth
  • liver function
  • reproductive system function
  • stress
  • skin and nerve function

How does CBD affect anxiety?

CBD has been shown to reduce activity in the amygdala. The amygdala holds a primary role in the processing of memory and emotional responses, including fear and anxiety. Because it is central to the neuro responses that initiate the fight or flight response and panic attacks, people with anxiety disorders will generally have an overactive amygdala. Indeed, a 2009 study measured the effects of CBD on brain activity using MRI scans. They found that CBD reduced activity in the amygdala. This makes CBD an ideal option for treatments. The results were confirmed by a later study.

What Does CBD Do to Your Mood?


Research has found that CBD appears to have a positive interaction with serotonin receptors in the brain.  Serotonin affects a range of different functions in the body and is thought to play an essential role in a person’s emotional state and feelings of well-being or happiness. It’s thought that keeping serotonin levels balanced is a necessary factor for people with depression.

Studies have found that the antidepressant-like effects that CBD produces depend upon the serotonin levels in your brain. Cannabidiol doesn’t seem to increase your serotonin levels but instead tends to affect the brain response to serotonin levels that are already present in your body.

 And recent studies have also shown that many people received medical CBD prescriptions for a wide range of different health conditions, including neurological symptoms, and that 70% of the participants showed satisfaction with CBD treatment, from anywhere from good to excellent.

It is specifically CBD’s capacity to target the serotonin 1A receptor that offers the greatest range of possibilities when dealing with the brain and your mood. This ability could help CBD deal with medical disorders such as depression, neuropathic pain, and anxiety disorders. It’s even suggested that it could help reduce people’s opioid dependence.

What is Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED)?

The theory of CED was first presented in 2001. The theory is based on the concept that many brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Depression are associated with neurotransmitter deficiencies. Therefore, a similar deficiency in endocannabinoid levels may lead to disorders where processes are dependant on the ES. The main conditions theorised are migraine, fibromyalgia and IBS. A 2008 study found ‘patterns that suggest an underlying clinical endocannabinoid deficiency that may be suitably treated with cannabinoid medicine’s’. None of these conditions have an obvious cause and they can often present in patients alongside each other. A 2016 review concluded ‘the current review has examined the concept of CED and presented more than a decade of supportive objective evidence’. Although more research has to be done to fully understand the Endocannabinoid System, there is plenty of evidence it plays a big role in key bodily processes.

The Endocannabinoid System is responsible for regulating many bodily processes with the goal of achieving homeostasis, a balanced equilibrium that promotes wellbeing and favourable health.

Can You Take CBD Every day?

It is said by many that not only can you, but for the best effects, in most cases, you actually should take CBD on a daily basis. Remember, you can’t overdose on CBD, and it’s lipophilic (or fat-soluble), which means it compounds in your body over time, adding to potential health benefits. There is no shortage of CBD products out there, two popular categories are CBD Vape and Water Soluble CBD.

Does CBD Help Sexually?


For those people who suffer from stress or performance anxiety in the bedroom, CBD is reputed to alleviate anxiety, elevate mood and reduce sexual inhibition.  It always depends on the individual taker of CBD to say whether it works for them or not, but many people swear by it when it comes to their bedroom performance.

Some people also say the aphrodisiac qualities of cannabis seem to occur in low to moderate doses of CBD. Men with erectile dysfunction may also benefit from using CBD as it increases the blood flow and nerve sensation.