- CBD 101
The Endocannabinoid System: Making Sense of It
If you read any articles or information about CBD and cannabis products in general, you will likely have read about the endocannabinoid system. While it is at least very obviously tied to imbibing cannabis thanks to its name, it is never apparent what on earth it is supposed to be.
Countless studies exist out there with all kinds of different info on the endocannabinoid system. But very little of it helps it make sense. You can read lots of information and still walk away ignorant if you haven’t got the chance to understand it.
Let us try and make sense of the endocannabinoid system. So that we can truly understand it and know what it is and how it works with our favorite cannabinoids.
What Is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system is a biological system within the body. You can find both endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid receptors in the system.
That word, “endo,” refers to cannabinoids that exist within the human body, rather than ones you imbibe externally. That’s right; it turns out that the body creates and uses its cannabinoids.
These are the endocannabinoids that our brain and the neural system produces. Research is still continuously developing, with plenty of research into what the endocannabinoids do within the body. However, we do at least know that the endocannabinoid system can help facilitate and encourage already present neural pathways. It essentially helps to support many of our natural bodily processes.
It does this through a variety of endocannabinoid receptors, the two types are, CB1 and CB2.
This is how the endocannabinoid system and CBD work together within the same endocannabinoid system. When you imbibe CBD or any other cannabinoid, it bonds with these cannabinoid receptors. This triggers them and encourages a wide variety of different bodily functions.
The reason why we can take CBD and enjoy its effects is because of this trigger. The cannabinoids present within cannabis plants are similar to the ones our bodies naturally produce.
When we imbibe it, they interact with these receptors and mimic their effects. They also trigger the receptors for a more extended period. This allows their results to have a more significant impact, while also lasting far longer.
But what are cannabinoids? Why is it that they work so well?
What Are Cannabinoids?
While cannabinoids have a reputation of only belonging to cannabis and cannabis products, they are a distinct variety of chemical compounds. Cannabinoids are neurotransmitters in the brain, as well as compounds within cannabis plants. You can typically find phytocannabinoids within the cannabis plants.
An interesting thing about the cannabinoids found within plant matter is that they are a slightly different chemical when they exist within the fresh plant. The cannabinoids in plants are actually acids, which turn into the cannabinoids we consume when heated.
By heating and drying cannabis, you can remove its access to oxygen. It then undergoes decarboxylation, and the cannabinoids shift into their more well-known states. The body can then process them in the endocannabinoid system.
Once imbibed, it is these cannabinoids that work with the receptors. This includes the CB2 receptor, the most well-known receptor in the endocannabinoid system for working with CBD. CB1, meanwhile, is the more commonly known THC receptor, able to interact with THC, thus inducing its myriad effects.
But what is it about this endocannabinoid system that makes it so important? Why is it so vital that we utilize our endocannabinoid system properly?
The Endocannabinoid System: Crucial for Homeostasis
You may have heard of homeostasis, it is one of the most fundamental concepts within human biology. Homeostasis is what we use to describe a system within the body that is working at peak equilibrium.
Working in equilibrium means that every part of it is working correctly, and it’s in sync with the rest of the body as well. The reason this exists is that our bodies are incredibly delicate and require exact conditions to prosper.
For example, cellular growth and division, and all the useful chemical reactions and bodily functions that this enables, require precise temperatures and states of being to be able to work correctly. Without homeostasis, our bodies simply cannot function properly.
The endocannabinoid system is an incredibly crucial component of our body’s homeostasis. It requires regular interaction with endocannabinoids and neural pathways to function.
The reason why the endocannabinoid system is so vital is due to its widespread influence around the body. The cannabinoid receptors within the endocannabinoid system are responsible for a massive array of different physical responses and regulations. It can affect the inflammation response to the neural signal in the brain.
Without our endocannabinoid system working correctly, neurons within the brain would be unable to communicate with one another. This makes it more difficult, or even impossible, for it to function.
Though there is still nearly continuous research to be done on the subject, the endocannabinoid system is a vital bodily system for a gigantic portion of the body. If you utilize to many cannabinoids in the body, it can cause a variety of problems.
For example, overstimulation in the THC receptors, better known as the CB1 receptors, causes psychotropic effects. And it is the reason we experience that infamous high with marijuana.
When you think about the human body and all the delicacies and intricacies involved in keeping it running, it’s surprising just how many potential problems and how much room for error there is. In the same way that some people are born with incorrect quantities of vital proteins or chemicals in their body, it is entirely possible to suffer from a lack of endocannabinoids.
According to a variety of scientists, though first posited by Ethan B. Russo in his various studies such as this one for the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, endocannabinoid deficiency is not only a real thing, but it can become a severe problem.
In his study, Dr. Russo states that a Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency, or CECD for short, might be linked to a whole host of different serious illnesses, like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and even chronic migraines.
Dr. Russo, and other scientists like him, state that this inherent lack of endocannabinoids can be the reason behind many serious ailments. This lack of endocannabinoids is due to genetic quirks, rather than any lifestyle choices or poor diet.
Some people just aren’t born with enough cannabinoids for their bodies to work 100% correctly. It is for this reason that so many people recommend regular consumption of medical marijuana for their patients with these kinds of ailments.
By being able to imbibe artificial cannabinoids and phytocannabinoids from cannabis plants, people with CECD can easily overcome their deficiency. This is also why some people take CBD products regularly; so to overcome their inherent lack of cannabinoids within their bodies.
What kinds of potential effects does the endocannabinoid system have on the human body?
The Potential of the Endocannabinoid System
Experts have long considered the endocannabinoid system useful for treating all kinds of different illnesses. But what are the full limits of what the endocannabinoid system can do?
One of the main things that the endocannabinoid system can influence is inflammation response, as well as for pain. This study by Natascia Bruni . for the Journal of Molecules highlights its significant effects, as well as its actual mechanisms.
In essence, CBD and other cannabinoids like it are able to halt the inflammation response by tricking the brain into thinking that the area to be inflamed is no longer injured. This is the same as how it works for pain, as it can calm down the brain and turn off the pain response.
These effects make cannabinoids incredibly useful for treating chronic pain conditions, as well as chronic inflammatory diseases.
One of the other significant effects that the endocannabinoid system governs is the rate of ant oxidation within the body. Antioxidants are one of those things that you see almost everywhere on consumable products, each claiming to have positive effects on your mental and physical health.
It turns out that antioxidants are incredibly potent, and able to affect all kinds of neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental illnesses. Various studies, such as this one by Fernanda F. Peres for the Journal of Frontiers in Pharmacology, have found that CBD and other cannabinoids are able to act as potent antioxidants. This allows them to work as effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric illnesses, and even acute and chronic kidney disease.
Furthermore, we can use phytocannabinoids to try and treat all manner of different psychiatric illnesses. Many experts believe that a variety of different conditions can be processed by cannabinoids thanks to a whole host of various bodily functions.
Functions of the Endocannabinoid System: Why Is Cannabis Beneficial?
The endocannabinoid system is an extremely complex, multi-layered bodily system, relying on endless interactions with the nervous system, the brain, and cells all over the body.
It requires a nearly constant supply of different endocannabinoids to interact with its cannabinoid receptors, so as to produce all of its different bodily effects.
Cannabis is naturally rich in all kinds of different cannabinoids. The cannabinoids are broken down in the body and interact with the ECS in a vast number of different ways.
However, they trigger the various cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system in vastly different ways. This creates all manner of unique effects. While the high gained from THC is the most well known, the different cannabinoids within cannabis can help to treat all sorts of various bodily problems.
While the body does produce plenty of its endocannabinoids, these phytocannabinoids are incredibly useful at helping replace any missing cannabinoids.
For example, the endocannabinoid system is able to control the inflammation response. Yet it still incorrectly creates inflammation when you don’t want it. This ends up creating painful issues in the body that are not at all desirable.
This is just one of the things that medical marijuana and CBD products can help treat. By flooding the endocannabinoid system with other cannabinoids, we can manipulate how the body reacts to certain stimuli.
So, even though the endocannabinoid system and cannabis itself might seem incredibly complicated, it is an excellent and useful bodily function that we can control, given the right cannabis.
By being able to manipulate it, we can help change how our bodies react, thus improving our lives on a day to day basis.
Final Thoughts on the ECS
The endocannabinoid system is always going to be a confusing thing; if you asked most people, they likely wouldn’t be able to explain all the different bodily systems and functions going on without them knowing.
However, the great thing about the ECS is that it can be easily manipulated, controlled, and influenced by imbibing CBD products and other cannabis-related products.
While our cannabinoid receptors were designed to only work with our internal endocannabinoids, they are also perfectly capable of helping improve our lives through the introduction of phytocannabinoid.
While complete sense and understanding of the endocannabinoid system are still many years and countless research papers away, we should all learn as much as we can about this vital, everyday bodily system, and what we can do to improve it.