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How does CBD work

Humans as well as dogs, cats, and many other mammals naturally produce compounds that are very similar to cannabinoids. Since these compounds are produced by your body, they are called endogenous cannabinoids, or endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids play an important role in the endocannabinoid system and the natural balance of health.

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a collection of receptors, categorized as either CB1 or CB2 receptors, which are scattered throughout the body (see diagram).

These endocannabinoids are used to regulate a variety of body sensitivities, including inflammation, stress, sleep, and others. The primary purpose of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain balance or homeostasis, which is the key to avoiding many health issues. It is believed that when the body does not produce enough endocannabinoids, that health issues arise.

By working through the ECS, taking CBD and the whole range of cannabinoids from natural sources, can have a positive impact on health and wellness. Cannabinoids such as CBD and THC have the ability to interact and communicate with the ECS and make up for any shortfall of internally produced cannabinoids.

Each person has a unique ECS profile and will be affected differently by cannabinoids depending on several factors, see our usage guide for more information on establishing a plan for supplementing your bodies cannabinoids. CBD is used by people who would like to improve:

CBD is used by people who would like to improve:



Sleep Patterns

Everyday Stress Levels

General Wellness

Understanding CBD

In order to get a better understanding of how CBD works within the body, it is important to know what it is. You might already know that CBD is a cannabinoid that is found in plants that are of the cannabis genus (Hemp and Marijuana). CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, is closely related to the molecular structure of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active compound in cannabis plants that is responsible for inducing a psychoactive state, otherwise known as a “high.”

CBD does not cause the user to experience any kind of high, or any noticeable psychoactive behavior. The wellness benefits that users experience all come from indirect occurrences between the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS)  and the CBD. Where THC directly affects the user and creates a feeling of being high, CBD, on the other hand, is believed to create an environment in the body’s chemistry that is favorable to the user.

Although CBD and THC are closely related, they are quite different in several ways. CBD and THC are the most prevalent cannabinoids, but they are only two of over a hundred other cannabinoids that are present in cannabis plants.


Cannabinoids are produced by the cannabis plant in order to maintain health and strength in the plants as they grow and are most prevalent in the female plants’ flowers, which appears as the light cycle shortens during the late summer and into fall (in the US). It appears as if these fascinating compounds help the plants to stay healthy and fight against predators. Cannabinoids are accompanied by terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds that help the plant to thrive (or survive its natural predators) as well.

Although nobody truly knows the sole purpose for the presence of cannabinoids in the plant, scientists have been able to rule out other theories that could explain why cannabinoids exist. The one theory which  has a little indirect evidence to back it up is that cannabinoids are there to act as antibiotics and to protect the plant from being eaten.

Cannabis plants have been re-bred and crossbred in order to produce different strengths of the many cannabinoids commercially being grown. For example, industrial hemp is known for its high CBD, low THC ratio and is popular all around the world for producing hemp extracts that contain a very low amount of THC. However, cannabis strains known as Purple Kush (amongst hundreds of strains) have been bred to produce  the highest amount of THC possible within each plant. Although hemp plants and purple kush plants are both full of cannabinoids, they are very different from each other because of the way they have been bred and the types of cannabinoids, terpenes and other beneficial compounds they possess.

CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

Earlier in this article, we mentioned the endocannabinoid system. We also talked about how our bodies create our own form of cannabinoids called endocannabinoids that help to keep the body in balance and healthy.

Some of the functions that the endocannabinoid system controls are body temperature, heart rate, metabolism, and blood pressure. Homeostasis is a state that the body strives for in order to stay in balance and healthy. When circumstances occur within the body that pull or push the whole balance of the system one way or the other, the endocannabinoid system sends messages throughout the nervous system and into the parts of the brain that help to correct the problems.

For instance, if you become ill and contract a fever, it is believed that the endocannabinoid system will become active and direct commands that will help to cool the body down, such as telling the cooling system to produce sweat. If your heart is racing, the endocannabinoid system can send messages throughout the body that will produce chemicals that slow things down.  As cited in a 2011 study, CBD can activate the endocannabinoid system and may aid in reducing blood pressure and heart rate.

It is within the way that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system that leads experts to believe that CBD can induce beneficial effects for the beings that use it.

How CBD Communicates

Cannabinoids can communicate with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in a number of ways, but when it comes to CBD things get a little ambiguous. Where THC directly attaches itself to the CB1 and CB2 receptors and gives commands, CBD connects to the receptor and communicates with it. CBD has the ability to allow the receptor to send and receive information, or to stop the receptor from sending and receiving messages at all.

Scientists believe that CBD is effective when it comes to relieving stress and discomfort. The theory goes that in the event that the brain is telling the body that it needs to be tense because of a tense situation, or a similar scenario, CBD communicates with the receptors and tells it to not forward that message. When the receptors are all blocked from sending messages to the parts of the body that would need cortisol or adrenaline to administer energy and tenseness, the body remains relaxed. 

Although there still needs to be a ton of research done in order to pinpoint exactly how it all works, this is a general outline of how CBD can be an effective supplement for humans and pets.

CBD and Enzymes

Within the endocannabinoid system, there are also enzymes that are produced by the body in order to break down and dissolve the endocannabinoids when they are done with the process that they were set out to do. Some scientists believe that CBD can actually prevent the active endocannabinoids from being broken down, which allows them to work longer and bring longer-lasting effects.

The exact way that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system is being actively investigated by scientists and researchers around the world. There are theories that suggest that there are more receptors besides CB1 and CB2 that remain undetected in the body that CBD binds directly to and produces effects, but as for solid evidence to support the theory, there is none at this time.

CBD and Pets

Every living being on the planet that has a spine (mammals) has an endocannabinoid system, including cats and dogs. Millions of pet owners around the world give their pets CBD treats to calm them down when they are stressed out and tense or to help older dogs and cats that suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia and other painful maladies that occur with age. Although there is not enough solid scientific evidence to support the theory that CBD helps with stress and discomfort, there are millions of people that use CBD on a regular basis for themselves and their pets.

The CBD Extraction Process

As we mentioned earlier in this article, CBD is just one of many cannabinoids that is present in the hemp plant. Unpollinated female hemp plants are harvested after they have produced flowers or buds, when their CBD content is greatest. The extraction process separates the CBD and other cannabinoids from the hemp plant in the form of an oil and that oil becomes the vessel that holds the CBD that you ingest.

CBD is extracted from the hemp plant during the extraction process. There are many different methods used to extract the active cannabinoids, but the most prevalent ones utilize CO2 (yes, carbon dioxide, the compound we exhale in our breath every day and that which is known to provide sustenance to plants, just as oxygen is necessary for mammals to live. CO2 is forced through the hemp plants under pressure which strips the cannabinoids out of the plant material.

The other popular extraction method is ethanol, which is a hydrocarbon. As with the method of CO2 extraction, ethanol is pumped through the hemp plant under pressure and cannabinoids and other beneficial compounds are removed from the plant. The process continues to remove the hydrocarbons from the extraction material so that the extract is safe for consumption.

Based on our experience and many tests runs from different ethanol extractors, CO2 extracted distillate converts into a more palatable finished product. If you have ever wondered why many CBD products have flavorings added to it, it is primarily to cover up a bad taste, which can usually be traced back to the quality of the CBD extraction.

There are other extraction methods which are used in other industries, many which involve the use of other hydro-carbons, such as benzene, propane, hexane and many others. Within NY state, only the methods approved for use are C02 or ethanol. At High Falls Hemp we are very proud that we make high quality, refined products which have a pleasant taste by utilizing the CO2 method of extraction.

CBD Crude Oil and Full, Broad, and Isolate CBD Spectrums 

There are essentially four spectrums of hemp oil that get extracted from the plant, depending on the way that the level of refinement. CBD Crude Oil has the lowest level of refinement and it is usually muddy in color and not transparent. Crude Oil is the first step in the extraction process and contains the greatest number of cannabinoids and other elements of the hemp plant. Some CBD products are made with crude oil, where the taste does not matter. Crude Oil contains the full spectrum of the hemp plant. This means that all of the cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes that are available in the hemp plant will be in the extract. This includes a small amount of THC.

Crude Oil is further refined into Full Spectrum Distillate, which has many impurities removed and most of that which creates a bad taste if consumed in the form of a tincture. What remains in abundance is CBD and other cannabinoids, such as CBG, CBC, CBN and other, including a trace amount of THC.

In a broad-spectrum extraction, the hemp extract will have most of the cannabinoids and other compounds intact, but there will be no THC. Broad-spectrum simply strips the THC from the full spectrum distillate and leaves most of the remaining cannabinoids.

With CBD isolate, the only compound that will be available is pure CBD that has been isolated from the rest of the compounds of the hemp plant, and isolate is usually in the form of a white crystalline powder.

 From an efficacy perspective, it is believed that the least refined hemp extracts, such as crude oil and full spectrum distillate have the greatest efficacy.

The Entourage Effect and CBD

The reason why we had to mention the different spectrums of hemp extracts is so that we could discuss one more way that CDB works in the body. The entourage effect takes place when you bring all of the cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes together into one place and allow them to work together in order to bring the full effects of a hemp extract. As we mentioned earlier, CBD is just one small part of a whole. Although CBD on its own is a powerful cannabinoid with great potential, it is still just one part of the hemp extract. Just as sugar, flour, eggs, and milk come together to make cookies, all of the compounds that are available in the hemp plant come together and work as one in order to deliver a great experience. 

Why Use CBD?

If you are wondering whether or not you should try CBD, maybe you should go ahead; if you do not, you might miss out and never know if it works for you. Millions of people around the world use CBD for a number of reasons on a daily basis. So far, there are no known cases of overdosing or injury from using CBD. However, there are a lot of verified customer reviews from the people that love it which claim that  it helps them to relax, and unwind after a long day of work, amongst other reported positive experiences. 

CBD is used for many reasons. Pet owners claim that when they give their pets CBD before the big fireworks start to boom, and that it helps them to not be so stressed out when the explosions begin to erupt on Independence day. What if it could help you? You will never know unless you try.