Explaining Cannabinoid Receptors

Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the body – even in your skin. These receptors work with cannabinoids, including CBD, to help the endocannabinoid system maintain homeostasis (balance). Think of cannabinoid receptors as multi-purpose tools in your body’s natural toolbox – each type of receptor fits into multiple functions/systems of the body.

CBD was discovered before cannabinoid receptors. Science is still unlocking information regarding both CBD and cannabinoid receptors.

CB1 Receptors

The endocannabinoid system works with cannabinoid receptors to help maintain balance in the body. There are two main types of receptors, CB1 and CB2. In this quick blog, we’ll discuss CB1 receptors briefly.

The CB1 receptor help maintain healthy brain function. CB1 receptors were discovered in 1990. These receptors are mostly found in the brain, spinal cord and central nervous system.

CB1 receptors can also be found in:

  • Reproductive system
  • Urinary system
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Spleen
  • White blood cells
  • Endocrine glands

It’s said that these receptors help in regulating pain, memory, appetite and sleep. They also have a role in how your body reacts to THC and other psychoactive compounds. Once stimulated with cannabinoids, CB1 receptors trigger positive responses within the body

CB2 Receptors

CB2 receptors were discovered in 1993. The majority of these receptors are within the immune system and parts of the body associated with it. The heaviest concentrations of CB2 receptors are in the spleen and gastrointestinal system.

When the receptors are activated or stimulated, this tells the receptors to start fighting something – most of the time it’s inflammation. In some cases, the job of the receptor is to protect damaged tissue, help the body fight of illness itself and go into a mode of self-repair. In some cases, combatting pain is the job of these receptors.

Intestinal inflammation and inflammatory response are two functions that are supported by properly functioning CB2 receptors.

CB2 receptor

The Orphan Cannabinoid Receptor

There is a third cannabinoid receptor, the GPR55 receptor. It’s often called the “orphan receptor”.  It’s a metabotropic receptor that starts signaling between G proteins using a coupling process. This receptor wasn’t discovered until 1999. Its entire functionality wasn’t known until around 2007.

This receptor helps influence the supportive benefits of cannabinoids, including CBD. Cannabinoids can influence this receptor to block it from allowing inflammation and perception of pain to increase. In some cases this receptor can be bad news, such as allowing tumors to grow, seizures to occur and pain to increase. But, those that use cannabis and hemp products may be able to block GPR55’s activities with the introduction of cannabinoids.

Much more research is needed to see how this orphan receptor really works.

Closing Thoughts

Cannabinoid receptors are constantly working in the body. While your body can produce its own endocannabinoids, it can’t always produce enough for what your body needs. Sometimes it needs external support from natural cannabinoids derived from hemp or cannabis. You don’t know that these receptors are working, but when something is “off” in your body – you know when they aren’t sending or receiving the right signals. Maintaining proper balance in your body takes a bit of work, but when it is working properly – your emotions and functions will recognize it.