The Endocannabinoid System

The Endocannabinoid System: Why CBD matters in our body

Gone are the times when cannabis was mostly associated with the “high” produced by THC, its psychoactive compound.  But as the research on hemp and cannabis continues to grow, we’re learning more about its complex nature.  In this article, we cover the topic of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and how it helps maintain homeostasis in the body.

There are over 130 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant and each of them occurs in concentrations significant enough to produce effects.  One cannabinoid that is received by using hemp-derived CBD products is cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating constituent of the hemp plant.

But how do THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids interact with the body and brain?

What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex route that consists of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors.

Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters that tap into these receptors and trigger certain reactions in the body.   The ECS is spread throughout the entire body, including the nervous and immune systems.

The purpose of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis in the body.  Homeostasis is the ability to maintain a relatively stable internal state that persists despite external influences.  Whenever this balance is disturbed, you can become prone to a variety of health issues, some of which can become severe illnesses over time.

How does CBD interact with the ECS?

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The structure of endocannabinoids is identical to the chemical make-up of phytocannabinoids.  These are the chemical compounds acquired from outside sources: for example, from cannabis.

When you use CBD oil or other hemp-derived products, cannabidiol is delivered to your body.  The moment it enters your system, it stimulates certain receptors in the immune and nervous systems.

There are two distinct receptors in the ECSCB1 and CB2CB2 receptors are spread throughout the entire body.  CB1 receptors are located mostly in the brain.

When it comes to THC and CBD, they act on different receptors. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) taps into CB1 receptors in the brain where it mimics the qualities of anandamide.  By interacting with CB1 receptors, THC releases its psychoactive properties.   This is what the commonly known ‘high’ comes from ingesting marijuana cannabis in its various forms.

Even so,  THC interacts with the endocannabinoid system, therefore it helps regulate certain functions in the body.  We have written an article about the differences between cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol, so you can check the health benefits of tetrahydrocannabinol there.

Cannabidiol, on the other hand, doesn’t directly bind to cannabinoid receptors but boosts the activity of CB2 receptors.  This is why cannabidiol is believed to have strong medical benefits for patients struggling with chronic conditions.

But how exactly can cannabidiol improve the quality of your life? To answer this, we take a closer look at the characteristics of cannabidiol.

Why CBD matters in your body

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As we said, the ECS exists to maintain homeostasis in the body.  It responds to endogenous cannabinoids produced by humans.  Researchers have also discovered that the ECS reacts to cannabinoids from outside sources, too.

By interacting with CB2 receptors in the body, CBD increases the levels of 2-AG, an endocannabinoid.  Like cannabidiol, 2-AG interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors.  Its increased production boosts the overall effect on your health.

Interestingly, the contribution to the ECS isn’t the only way cannabidiol can affect the body.  For instance, CBD taps into a G-protein receptor, also known as TRPV.  This receptor controls our body temperature, impacts perception of pain, reduces inflammation, and improves the activity of serotonin receptors.

The Benefits of CBD

CBD has shown great promise as alternative support for people struggling with health concerns.  Anecdotal evidence and preclinical research indicate that cannabidiol may succeed where pharmaceutical treatments fail.  On top of that, hemp-derived CBD is completely safe because it contains little to no THC.  Therefore, it can be taken safely with no intoxication if it contains zero THC. 

Because cannabidiol interacts with CB2 receptors, it can:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Relieve pain
  • Combat anxiety
  • Regulate hormone levels
  • Control appetite
  • Boost metabolism

And much more!  More in-depth clinical research on the use of cannabis for the above conditions to prove the anecdotal evidence right will be ongoing in decades to come.

Patients who have started their journey with cannabidiol report significant improvements in mood, stress reduction, and a clear-headed state of mind.

There is a common misconception about CBD.  This is namely that the cannabinoid is not psychoactive.  In fact and technically speaking,  it affects the mind by reducing anxiety, controlling the sleep cycle, etc.  That being said, makes CBD, technically psychoactive. The word that we should use to describe the effects of CBD is “non-intoxicating”.

The future of CBD

man looking into distance with binocculars

 

Many people who approach CBD for the first time are clueless about the endocannabinoid system.  However, as they learn more about this complex construct and the way CBD interacts with ECS, they begin to understand the health benefits of using cannabidiol-based products.

Above all, CBD is safe:  it won’t get you high and you can’t overdose on CBD.  Side effects at best involve a dry mouth or drowsiness in the worst-case scenario.  Hemp-derived cannabidiol is legal in all 50 states, which makes it an easily-accessible alternative medicine.

More in-depth research is required to discover the true medicinal potential of CBD.  Nonetheless, current studies and self-reports from patients and recreational users support the concept of a bright future ahead for CBD. 

Did you know that CBD works for pets as well as humans?  It is so simple to soothe anxious pets and calm them quickly with CBD Oral Sprays.

Final Thoughts

One major takeaway is the unfortunate reality that the endocannabinoid system is very easy to throw out of balance.  Stress levels, diet, and exercise all influence your body’s ECS.  Furthermore, our ultra-busy lifestyles tend to take more of us than it gives.  It is a huge toll on this natural system.

There are some important things to consider to support a healthy endocannabinoid system. 

  • nutritional and dietary factors are required as building blocks for the ECS to function well;
  • a good functioning ECS creates endocannabinoids based on the needs of the body;
  • once created, they engage with the ECS receptor sites;
  • when engaged, neurotransmitters can be released sending important messages to cells, tissues, organs plus other systems that are critical to our health,
  • our bodies can create and maintain balance by degrading endocannabinoids when necessary to suit the body’s requirements.

When did you learn about the ECS?  Can you relate to any of the effects described here?

Share your stories!

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