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How does CBD Oil work?

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The CBD and THC in Medical Cannabis oils interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in your body.

The ECS is primarily responsible for maintaining homeostasis, a balance in internal environment and energy input and output in the body.

It has three major components: 

  1. Cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2)
  2. Cannabinoids naturally produced in the body, known as Endocannabinoids (that’s right – you have cannabinoids naturally produced in your own body)
  3. Enzymes which break down the endocannabinoids

Because of the legal classification of cannabis over the last 30 years, as well as the ECS only being discovered in 1992, the research isn’t yet clear on the exact mechanisms by which medical cannabis interacts with the ECS system. 

It is thought that it inhibits the enzyme responsible for breaking down the body’s naturally produced endocannabinoids [1], which influences many physiological processes, including [2]:

  • Homeostasis (the state of balance in your body)
  • Pain sensation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • Nervous functions
  • Feeding behaviour/appetite 
  • Emotional behaviour 
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neuroprotection 
  • Reward 
  • Cognition 
  • Learning and memory 
  • Pre-and post-natal development
Endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the Cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2)


  1. Bisogno, T. et al., ‘Molecular targets for cannabidiol and its synthetic analogues: effect on vanilloid VR1 receptors and on the cellular uptake and enzymatic hydrolysis of anandamide’, British Journal of Pharmacology, 134/4 (2001), 845-852
  2. Lowe, H.; Toyang, N.; Steele, B.; Bryant, J.; Ngwa, W. The Endocannabinoid System: A Potential Target for the Treatment of Various Diseases. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22, 9472. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22179472

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James Fitsioris

James is one of the Co-Founders at Cannabate. When he’s not writing about medical cannabis, you’ll most likely see him on the phone cracking up at his own jokes to our patients.

(written by Co-Founder and brother Charlie – someone please stop him)


Please note that James at Cannabate is not a licensed medical practitioner and therefore is not providing medical advice. We do not endorse the use of cannabis or any other illicit drugs. Like any medication, cannabis has potential negative side effects and should only be used under the guidance of a qualified medical professional. For the latest information on cannabis prescription and use, please visit the TGA website. If you are considering cannabis as a treatment option, we encourage you to consult with a licensed healthcare professional.

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