In a 2018 study, cannabinoids were found to interact with six of the TRP family of receptors. Today, we will explore the TRPV1 receptor to help understand what CBD does in the body.
TRPV1 is one of a dozen receptors in the family of TRP receptors. TRPV1 is also known as the vanilloid receptor 1, or the capsaicin receptor. These nicknames come from TRPV1’s unique ability to bind with certain active ingredients in the vanilla bean. TRPV1 is also responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of chili peppers (and the way they set your tongue on fire)!
TRPV1 receptors cause pain (that’s their job), and they’re incredibly sensitive neuroreceptors. They’re able to be triggered by the smallest painful stimuli. However, you can desensitize these receptors with continual activation.
CBD has been shown to desensitize these receptors.
TRPV1 receptors are mainly found in the peripheral nervous system. Because of their biological role as pain indicators, they are evenly dispersed throughout the peripheral nervous system. TRPV1 receptors are also present in other areas as well; including the brain. TRPV1 receptors found in the brain play a majorly different role.
People who have epilepsy have higher concentrations of TRPV1 receptors in their temporal lobes. Desensitizing these TRPV1 receptors in their brain prevents seizures (if that sounded like a medical claim, the FDA has approved the drug Epidiolex, a CBD based pharmaceutical, for seizure prevention). So, according to the FDA, CBD and seizure prevention is no longer just a theory.
TRPV1 and CBD studies are responsible for the thought that CBD has properties as an antiepileptic, analgesic, and an anti-inflammatory.
TRPV1, CBD and Inflammation
When you get hurt your body sends an inflammatory response to the localized area as its first line of defense, so to speak. This is healthy, and also why you don’t want to desensitize your TRPV1 receptors to the point of apathy. However, chronic inflammation is an autoimmune disease that results in tissue degradation, and chronic pain.
In a 2012 study, TRPV1 agonists (like CBD) were found to act as an anti-inflammatory and aid in some autoimmune conditions.
In recent studies, scientists are turning to the TRPV1 receptor for more and more issues including: total body homeostasis, metabolism regulation, urinary tract issues, respiratory and auditory systems, and even hair growth!
CBD appears to be a direct agonist of the TRPV1 receptor, which means it activates and desensitizes it. This could be great for a number of health issues! However, desensitizing these receptors too much results in a lack of acute inflammation, which is our bodies first response to injury. Like many things in the CBD industry, more research needs to be done. This research points to the importance of using the “low and slow” methodology of dosing in cannabinoid therapy.
Until next time,
Stay healthy, my friends!