Breaking Down CBD: A Guide To How Our Bodies Metabolize This Cannabinoid

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017
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How is CBD Metabolized?


For even committed students of CBD, many don’t understand the metabolic processes involved in its consumption. While there is plenty of literature out there with a more technical focus, there are very few resources out there to communicate that focus in a plain way. In this article, we’ll review your body’s natural metabolic processes, and how CBD is broken down specifically.

What is Metabolism, Anyway?

Metabolism is the conversion of one chemical compound into another through enzymes. Enzymes are proteins that live within your body’s cells that speed up chemical reactions.



Most of your body’s metabolism happens in the gut wall, lungs, and blood plasma.


The main enzymes in metabolism are a part of the “cytochrome P450” group, which will be of importance later.


Metabolism is divided into two phases  – 1 and 2. In phase 1 metabolism, your body goes through oxidation and sheds electrons from whatever you’ve taken. After phase 1, the drug is said to be “oxidized.”


In phase 2, the drug becomes more water soluble, making it possible to expel the drug from your system. The drug also loses pharmacological activity during this time. Think – something leaves your body and becomes less effective.


To review, you take something, say CBD Capsules, and they enter your system. They make it to your liver, which is the processing center for the body. Two phases of chemical reactions occur and the drug loses its effect. After the end of the second metabolism phase, the CBD capsules are water soluble enough that they can be expelled from your system.

How is CBD Broken Down?

The first thing to say on CBD metabolism, is that it is very important to understand how CBD is broken down and how it interacts with other drugs in your system. As CBD moves into the liver and becomes metabolized, it is converted in a chemical compound 7-hydroxy-CBD

(7-OH-CBD), and may also be converted into 6-OH-CBD.

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At this time, little is known about these metabolites, the leftovers of CBD metabolism. However, a derivative from this process, called D2 (E) Valproate, has anticonvulsant properties that might also be involved in the antiepileptic effects of CBD.

Cytochrome P450

Earlier in the article, we mentioned the importance of cytochrome P450, the group of enzymes mainly responsible for the liver’s metabolism. In CBD metabolism, CBD seems to have an inhibiting effect on these enzymes. Through this inhibitory effect, CBD prevents cytochrome P450 from metabolizing other compounds.


Now, this inhibitory effect can fluctuate with dosage, the individual, and how tightly CBD binds to cytochrome p450 before and after oxidation.


In clinical trials, as little as 25 mg of orally administered CBD, like the capsules we mentioned earlier, blocked the metabolism of an antiepileptic drug.


For consumers, this means that CBD can have potential reductive effects on other medications you may be taking. Be sure to consult your physician on the status of your individual metabolism.

The More You Know

Like many other industries, CBD is evolving. While there is much more information circulating now than ever before, there’s still much we don’t know about CBD, as evidenced by its metabolic processes. Truly, after CBD begins to metabolize within your body, we don’t know whether metabolites help or hurt its pre-metabolic effects. The more you know, the better decisions you make when it comes to your own consumption.


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