D63: The Biochemical Pathways of THC and CBD

D63: The Biochemical Pathways of THC and CBD

Understanding the intricate biochemistry of THC and CBD is critical for appreciating how these compounds interact within the human body. From metabolism in the liver to actions on the endocannabinoid system (ECS), these cannabinoids also interact with hormones and neurotransmitters, such as estrogen and dopamine. This involves complex pathways and receptor interactions that can offer therapeutic benefits while also having the potential for adverse effects.

Extensive Comparison Table: THC, CBD, and Biochemical Pathways

Hormone/Receptor TypeLocation in BodyCannabinoids InvolvedSynergistic/InhibitoryEffect at Doses
CB1CNS, LiverTHCSynergisticHigh Doses
CB2Immune SystemCBDSynergisticModerate Doses
Estrogen ReceptorsReproductive OrgansTHC, CBDInhibitoryModerate Doses
Testosterone ReceptorsTestes, MuscleTHCInhibitoryHigh Doses
Dopamine ReceptorsCNSTHCSynergisticModerate Doses
Serotonin ReceptorsCNS, GI TractCBDSynergisticModerate Doses
Adrenaline ReceptorsCNS, Cardiovascular SystemTHCInhibitoryHigh Doses
Acetylcholine ReceptorsCNS, PNSCBDInhibitoryModerate Doses
Noradrenaline ReceptorsCNSTHC, CBDSynergisticLow Doses

THC and CBD Metabolism

  1. THC is primarily metabolized in the liver by CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP3A4 enzymes into 11-OH-THC, which is also psychoactive[1].
  2. CBD is metabolized by CYP3A4 and CYP2C19 into its various metabolites, such as 7-OH-CBD[2].

ECS Receptor Interactions

  1. THC primarily binds to CB1 receptors, influencing neurotransmission[3].
  2. CBD has a low affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors but modulates them indirectly[4].

Hormonal Interactions

  1. THC decreases testosterone levels through inhibition[5].
  2. CBD has been shown to interact with estrogen receptors, but the full implications are not yet understood[6].

Neurotransmitter Interactions

  1. THC increases dopamine release, creating euphoric feelings[7].
  2. CBD is known to modulate serotonin levels, affecting mood and anxiety[8].
  3. Both THC and CBD have complex interactions with adrenaline, acetylcholine, and noradrenaline[9].


  1. Huestis, M. A. Chem Biodivers. 2007.
  2. Jiang, R., et al. Drug Metab Dispos. 2011.
  3. Pertwee, R. G. Pharmacol Rev. 2006.
  4. McPartland, J. M., et al. J Cannabis Ther. 2002.
  5. Kolodny, R. C., et al. Am J Psychiatry. 1974.
  6. Eagon, P. K., et al. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2002.
  7. Tanda, G., et al. Nat Neurosci. 1997.
  8. Linge, R., et al. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2016.
  9. Gururajan, A., et al. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2010.

Special Notes:

Patients with conditions such as schizophrenia, cardiovascular disorders, or hormone-sensitive cancers should exercise caution with cannabinoids. For personalized, expert consultation, please contact Dr. Caplan at CED Clinic.

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