24 Mar What is the endocannabinoid system?
Although scientists claim it’s one of the most versatile signaling molecules in the human body, not many of us know the endocannabinoid system even exists, never mind how important it is to living a happy and healthy life.
Discovered way back in 1992, the endocannabinoid system is present in all humans and mammals, and helps regulate a wide range of psychological and physiological functions. Although extremely complex, scientists have proven these include mood, appetite, sleep, and even pain. For this reason, the endocannabinoid system is crucial to homeostasis – the vital internal action that keeps all bodily processes balanced and working properly.
Initial research suggested endocannabinoid receptors were only present in the brain and nervous system, but scientists later found that these integral receptors are present throughout the body, including our skin, immune cells, bone, fat tissue, liver, pancreas, skeletal muscle, heart, blood vessels, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract. 1
HOW IT WORKS?
Although within the endocannabinoid system there is an entire network of cannabinoid receptors, there are actually two primary receptors that have been identified. These are receptors CB1 and CB2, and this pair function by binding with internally produced endocannabinoids and working to restore balance to every part of the body.
Synthesised on demand, endocannabinoids flow backwards from the postsynaptic cell to the presynaptic cell. Although it sounds highly complicated, in fact, this process is simply a natural communication within your body to signal the presynaptic cell to slow down or entirely stop releasing neurotransmitters.2 Controlling this vital flow, as long as the internal receptors are activated, the endocannabinoids have complete command over how much anxiety, stress, and pain we feel, to name only a few psychological and physiological effects they influence.
And this is where the benefits of CBD are found. Because what if the body’s unique system of control could be supported by an equally natural cannabinoid that could be supplied in efficient abundance? In theory, it could increase the regularity it maintains full control of important bodily processes, and help to restrict negative symptoms that cause us to feel unbalanced and unwell.
THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM & CBD
Science may already have found the answer. Naturally occurring, and safe to ingest, it comes in the form of phytocannabinoids. Derived from the cannabis plant, these cannabinoids (including CBD and THC) have been found to naturally attach to those important internal receptors in a similar way – helping to maintain, improve and accelerate their natural process.
With over 100 phytocannabinoids found in the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa L.), these individual elements have been found to interact with the endocannabinoid system in different ways to provide a broad spectrum of effects. This includes positive benefits to the cognitive and physiological processes by firing up the internal system and activating both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Because, as science has proven, with this comes the natural bodily ability to interact with, balance, and ultimately alleviate debilitating symptoms, whether minor or long-term.
For example, when cannabinoids activate the CB1 receptor, scientists have pinpointed analgesic, vasodilation, and inflammatory markers, which indicate inflammation reduction. When the CB2 receptors are activated, effects include immune modulation (that’s simply making sure your immune system is functioning correctly).
Other researchers also believe that CBD plays a key role in preventing endocannabinoids from breaking down, and therefore allows them to have a longer, more efficient effect within the body. As a result, this is importantly linked to a theory known as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD). This theory, backed by a number of experts, suggests that low endocannabinoid levels in your body or ECS dysfunction can contribute to the development of certain conditions. A study reviewing over 10 years of research on the subject suggests the theory could explain why some people develop migraine, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome.3 THis is something that could now be naturally combated through the use of CBD.
KNOW YOUR BODY
Even in 2020, the intricate workings of the human body are still being studied and debated across the world. One thing is for certain – the endocannabinoid system plays a huge part in keeping us functioning as we should. Whether suffering from inflammation, anxiety, poor sleep, or simply looking to stay healthy long term, it’s clear that supporting this important natural engine is key. And CBD, if taken in the correct quantities and derived from quality sources, could very well be the answer.
1) Mackie K. Cannabinoid receptors: where they are and what they do. J Neuroendocrinol. 2008