A hemp leaf with the text "What does CBD do?" overlaid

As cannabinoid studies go mainstream and experts learn more about CBD’s applications, we’re starting to get a more complete picture of how CBD interacts with our bodies and our internal endocannabinoid system. By extension, we’re getting closer to answering the question “What does CBD do?”

In this post, we’ll talk about,

  • What we do know about CBD so far
  • Specific interactions we can observe taking place in humans
  • And, how CBD interacts with other cannabinoids

What Is CBD?

CBD (short for cannabidiol) is one of the more than 100 known cannabinoids produced by the Cannabis Sativa plant. While there are small traces of CBD present in recreational “marijuana” plants, it is more commonly found in hemp plants.

CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning that consuming it won’t get you “high.” The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…” 

CBD won’t get you “high,” so what does CBD do?

What Does CBD Do?

While experts aren’t entirely sure yet how CBD interacts with your body, we do know that, unlike THC, CBD does not bind well to your endocannabinoid system’s CB1 or CB2 receptors.  

Wait. Rewind. What’s the endocannabinoid system? In short, your endocannabinoid system is an intricate cell-signaling system made up of three main components: endocannabinoids (cannabinoids within your body,) receptors for those endocannabinoids, and enzymes. 

The entire system plays a role in managing a number of bodily functions, including:

  • Sleep 
  • Mood 
  • Appetite
  • Memory 
  • Fertility 
  • Central nervous system (CNS) development 
  • Synaptic plasticity 
  • And many more…

As mentioned above, CBD doesn’t bind well with your CB1 receptors (found mainly in the central nervous system) or your CB2 receptors (found in your peripheral nervous system.) Instead, researchers believe that CBD influences the two receptors in other ways like increasing the uptake of beneficial molecules and inhibiting the uptake of other, less desirable molecules. Essentially, it’s believed that CBD acts as a facilitator and helps your entire endocannabinoid system run more efficiently.

What Does CBD Do To…

While CBD research is still in its infancy, there have been a handful of bodily interactions observed and documented which we will review in the sections below.

5-ht1A Receptors?

5-ht1A is a type of serotonin receptor. These receptors help in moderating sleep, anxiety, pain, perception, appetite, nausea, vomiting, and sociability. 

When taken in higher doses, CBD has been known to interact with this receptor, though the effects expressed from said interaction have yet to be understood fully.


Adenosine is a naturally occurring compound that acts as a central nervous system depressant. Put simply, adenosine makes you sleepy. 

It’s believed that CBD somewhat prevents adenosine reuptake (the same is true of caffeine and Vitamin B12) and activates our A2A receptors— a receptor that helps mitigate the body’s inflammation response. 

This may explain why many users report that its use, both internal and external (topical) helps reduce their inflammation.

GPR55 Antagonization?

Known sometimes as the CB3 receptor, GPR55 receptors are cannabinoid receptors that are located in the cerebellum near the brainstem and help manage an individual’s blood pressure and bone density. GPR55 receptors, unfortunately, have been linked to the proliferation of cancer cells when activated. 

CBD helps to ‘antagonize’ GRP55 receptors, meaning that CBD helps counteract the receptors’ normal functions. These early findings may suggest CBD’s potential in treating conditions like high blood pressure and osteoporosis. Further research is required.

What Does CBD Do To Other Cannabinoids?

Thus far, we’ve talked about what CBD does to your endocannabinoid system, but what does it do to its fellow phytocannabinoids? 

Currently, the only interaction currently being studied in depth is the interaction between CBD and its psychoactive counterpart THC. As other cannabinoids have their time in the spotlight, their effects and interactions are sure to be the subject of much academic scrutiny.


Similar to the interactions with the receptors listed above, CBD can actually affect the uptake of THC and can diminish some of the unwanted effects— namely, paranoia and ‘the munchies.’ 

While studies into what we call the “entourage effect,” the effects brought on by the use of whole-plant cannabis, are still in their infancy, the horizon of cannabinoid research is broad and exciting for sure.


CBD doesn’t do anything to CBN necessarily, but they do work well together. In a study published in Australia, a team found that a combination of THC, CBN, and CBD taken regularly and sublingually “significantly improved insomnia symptoms and self-reported sleep quality in people compared to the placebo group.”

Related: Where Should You Buy CBN Online?

What Does CBD Do Once You’re Done With It?

What does CBD do after it’s interacted with your endocannabinoid system? Good question. 

Like THC, CBD is a phytocannabinoid and must also make its exit the same way. CBD makes its way to your liver where it is metabolized and broken down into CBD metabolites that are then expelled via excrement, urine, and even in your hair. 

Read more: Does CBD Show Up On A Drug Test?


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