Highly specialized cells called neurons are found throughout the brain. Each neuron connects to many others through structures called synapses. These are sites where one neuron communicates to another by releasing chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters .
A neuron’s sensitivity to a specific neurotransmitter depends on whether or not it contains a receptor that “fits” the neurotransmitter, like an electrical socket fits a plug. If a neuron contains receptors that match a particular neurotransmitter, then it can respond directly to that transmitter. Otherwise, it generally cannot. All neurons contain multiple neurotransmitter receptors, allowing them to respond to some neurotransmitters but not others.
Brain receptors are not only sensitive to neurotransmitters produced naturally within the brain, like dopamine or serotonin, but also in plant-based staples like chocolate, coffee, black pepper, or CBD. So when you ingest an edible or inhale some vapor, you’re allowing compounds originally produced by a plant to enter your body, travel through your bloodstream, and enter your brain. Once they arrive, these plant-derived compounds can influence brain activity by interacting with receptors on neurons. But they don’t interact with all neurons, only neurons which possess the appropriate receptors.