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CBD molecule and cannabis plant

CBD: why do we humans have an endocannabinoid system?

Research has shown that the human body has an endocannabinoid system which reacts with the active principles in hemp, one of which is CBD. What do we actually know about this system?

Discovery of the endocannabinoid system

Only identied in the 1990s, the endocannabinoid system is extremely complex and constitutes a developing field of research with much still to learn about its precise actions.

What we do know, however, is that:

  • the endocannabinoid system (ECS) modulates various physiological functions: motor, memory, motivation, energy, pain and emotion.
  • it is composed of endocannabinoids themselves, which are derivatives of polyunsaturated fatty acids, several enzymes and proteins involved in the biosynthesis, transport and bi-inactivation of these endocannabinoids, as well as CB1 and CB2 receptors which bind to the endocannabinoids;
  • CB1 receptors are found predominantly in the central nervous system and peripheral tissues, and are involved more in the psychoactive effects of of cannabinoids;
  • CB2 receptors appear to be limited to immune cells, so are involved more in the cannabinoids’ immunomodulatory effects;
  • in the body, endocannabinoids are hydrolysed very rapidly by enzymes (there are three such enzymes known so far, one of which is fatty acid amide hydrolase, FAAH) and they have an extremely short lifespan (1).

Age-old evidence of endocannabinoid system

Scientists have found reference to medical use of cannabis derivatives in Egyptian and Chinese texts dating back to several centuries BC. In fact, we now know that phyto-cannabinoids were used for thousands of years for treating pain, spasms, nausea, insomnia and loss of appetite.

Studies conducted over the last 30 years on the endocannabinoid system have identified the role it plays in many of the body’s mechanisms (1-5). It’s worth mentioning here the little-known case of a Scottish woman in her late sixties who had no sensitivity to pain or anxiety. Doctors discovered she had a genetic mutation whereby she demonstrated inhibited production of FAAH, the enzyme that normally hydrolyses the primary endocannabinoid, anandamide, which meant she had higher than normal levels of it (6).

We should say here that, in the interests of not promoting cannabis, the law does not currently permit therapeutic claims to be made for cannabinoids (CBD included). We are therefore not allowed to describe the effects of CBD on health.

The various cannabidiol (CBD) supplements on offer

Widely available in Europe from 2015 onwards, cannabidiol (or CBD as it’s more commonly known) is one of the two main phyto-cannabinoids present in the plant Cannabis sativa. Unlike the other, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, it has no psychoactive effect. And with good reason, it may in fact act as an antagonist of the main CB1 receptor agonists, while cancelling the inverse agonist effects of the CB2 receptors (7).

CBD oil in capsules

As cannabinoids are lipids, they bind to fats very easily. That’s why one of the most widely-used forms of CBD is CBD oil. However, dosing oil can be tricky and a little restrictive in that you have to measure out drops, and the oil tends to stick to the edges of the cup or spoon you use to take it.

Taking standardised CBD oil in capsules, however, allows you to easily control the dose required.

For example, those looking for a mild effect often opt for a twice-daily dose of 5mg of CBD per capsule (as provided by CBD Oil 6%). For a more marked effect, you can choose a higher dose, such as 25mg of CBD per capsule (available in the once a day CBD 25mg).

CBD in spray form

With CBD oil in capsules, there’s a slow release of the active principle into the body, via digestion. Those looking for faster absorption can opt for an oral spray where the CBD is absorbed via mucous membranes in the mouth and enters the bloodstream directly. With a CBD spray, it’s also easy to control the dose (try, for example, the product CBD Spray, which delivers 10mg per spray).

CBD in the form of a balm

As it’s fat-soluble, CBD can also be incorporated into coconut oil to make a CBD massage balm which is simple and pleasant to apply. It’s even better if in addition to the CBD, the balm contains soothing and refreshing essential oils such as eucalyptus, teatree, peppermint or lavender (which is the case with the product CBD Balm 7%).

CBD in synergy with melatonin

A hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland and integral to the sleep-wake cycle, melatonin helps reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. That’s why, according to Vidal, the French Physician’s Desk Reference, it is recommended for short-term use for managing sleep-wake cycle problems related to certain diseases.


  1. Le système endocannabinoïde central, Laurent Venance, Raphael Maldonado and Olivier Manzoni, Med Sci (Paris), 20 1 (2004) 45-53, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/medsci/200420145
  2. GUINDON, Josée et HOHMANN, Andrea G. The endocannabinoid system and pain. CNS & Neurological Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-CNS & Neurological Disorders), 2009, vol. 8, no 6, p. 403-421.
  3. MURILLO-RODRÍGUEZ, Eric, POOT-AKE, Alwin, ARIAS-CARRIÓN, Oscar, et al.The emerging role of the endocannabinoid system in the sleep-wake cycle modulation. Central Nervous System Agents in Medicinal Chemistry (Formerly Current Medicinal Chemistry-Central Nervous System Agents), 2011, vol. 11, no 3, p. 189-196.
  4. VIVEROS, M. P., MARCO, Eva M., et FILE, Sandra E. Endocannabinoid system and stress and anxiety responses. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 2005, vol. 81, no 2, p. 331-342.
  5. JAGER, Gerry et WITKAMP, Renger F. The endocannabinoid system and appetite: relevance for food reward. Nutrition research reviews, 2014, vol. 27, no 1, p. 172-185.
  6. https://www.lemonde.fr/blog/realitesbiomedicales/2019/03/29/une-mutation-genetique-chez-une-septuagenaire-insensible-a-la-douleur/
  7. MECHOULAM, Raphael, PARKER, Linda A., et GALLILY, Ruth. Cannabidiol: an overview of some pharmacological aspects. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 2002, vol. 42, no S1, p. 11S-19S.


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