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Molecular Targets of CBD in the Human Body

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

Welcome to Cannabis Conclusions, a unique educational series from Higher Learning LV that is targeted at hemp and cannabis industry professionals. This series provides readers with the conclusion section from important modern peer-reviewed research studies.

An August 2015 study entitled "Molecular Targets of Cannabidiol in Neurological Disorders" that was published in the journal Neurotherapeutics explored the biochemical underpinnings of the hemp-derived cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD).


The study considered "whether the molecular targets of CBD identified hold therapeutic potential in relevant neurological diseases."

The study reported that it "conducted a systematic search of the extant literature for original articles describing the molecular pharmacology of CBD." It noted that it "critically appraised the results for the validity of the molecular targets proposed" and considered whether these molecular targets of CBD identified "hold therapeutic potential in relevant neurological diseases." The research explained that the molecular targets identified included ion channels, receptors, transporters, and enzymes.


Study Conclusions

"We have identified a large number of potential molecular targets of CBD which are likely to be of direct relevance to many of the therapeutic effects of this compound reported in large number of preclinical and smaller numbers of clinical studies.


"However, despite such an extensive literature, there is a paucity of studies that incontrovertibly demonstrate which specific molecular targets underlying different therapeutic effects of CBD. A significant area of confusion in this regard has been the assumption that, being a cannabinoid, CBD acts through the ECS; an assumption that has now been largely dismissed.

"Moreover, the lipophilic nature of CBD and the membrane-bound nature of many of the targets implicated means that many of the effects reported at high micromolar (or higher) concentrations in vitro are likely to be nonspecific and of dubious relevance to any therapeutic effect.


"Considerable caution should be exercised when both interpreting the extant literature and designing new studies to determine CBD mechanisms of action."

"Thus, considerable caution should be exercised when both interpreting the extant literature and designing new studies to determine CBD mechanisms of action. While definitive statements regarding the specific molecular targets underlying CBD's effects cannot yet be made, our review of the literature has identified several targets per therapeutic indication which, on the balance of evidence, warrant further, focused investigation in studies that establish causal relationships between target and effect."


View the original study.


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