The Endocannabinoid System and CBD
Posted on July 24th, 2020
Have you ever wondered how CBD is able to achieve all of its reported benefits in the human body? After all, CBD may be linked to effects ranging from improved physical and mental health to enhanced immunity against illnesses, pain and inflammation management, stress relief, and so much more. Or maybe you’re curious about how CBD interacts with your body? Well, if you have questions on how and why CBD affects the body the way it does, this brief read is for you. Today, we’ll highlight the science behind CBD and the single most important system that it interacts with inside your body: the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The Endocannabinoid System or ECS was first discovered in the late 60s, by scientists who were looking into the effects of cannabis on the human body. These early studies involved isolating various phytochemical compounds found in cannabis plants, which we commonly refer to as phytocannabinoids. By studying the effects of these compounds on the human body, scientists uncovered a whole web of biochemical pathways, enzymes, and receptors inside our bodies. And they realized these pathways were involved in breaking down and absorbing the cannabis plant’s phytochemicals. Eventually, the scientists began referring to this web of elements as the Endocannabinoid System.
As research continued, scientists discovered that the Endocannabinoid System is not unique to human beings. Other mammals, as well as fish and amphibians, also have this crucial system. The ECS is still a bit of a mystery, as we have yet to reveal its full make-ups and capabilities. But one thing has become clear: the Endocannabinoid System is deeply linked or connected with other systems in the body. The health of our physiological and neurological systems can, therefore, be negatively or positively affected by the ECS.
Components of the Endocannabinoid System
Endocannabinoids are simply chemical messengers that transmit information throughout the endocannabinoid system. So, in the same way, the nervous system has chemical messengers or neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, the endocannabinoid system has chemical messengers known as endocannabinoids or eCBs. There are 2 main eCBs in the body: 2-arachidonoylglycerol and anandamide. ECBs are made from lipids (oils and fats). Their lipid structure enables them to easily absorb CBD and THC.
Scientists have discovered that eCBs have a significant impact on your cells and organs. They are known to affect things like memory, mood, and appetite.
Cannabinoid (CB) Receptors
If eCBS are the messengers, then cannabinoid receptors are the molecules that receive the message being sent. Cannabinoid receptors are positioned right above the cell wall and have a significant impact on how cells interpret and implement the messages sent their way. Based on the cell they are attached to, cannabinoid receptors create a downstream effect that can impact your mood, concentration, cell health, and immunity.
Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the human body. Their main work is to guard cells and facilitate the passage of crucial information to different cells. Different types of cells have different types of receptors, but there are just two main types of cannabinoid receptors in the body: CB1 and CB2.
CB1 receptors are mainly found in your brain. They help to regulate pain, motor function, mood, and memory. CB1 receptors are also responsible for absorbing THC, which is the reason this cannabinoid causes a wide range of psychoactive effects.
CB2 receptors are mainly found in your nervous system. They help to regulate immune system functions like fighting off pathogens and disease-causing organisms. CB2 receptors are responsible for absorbing CBD. They help to keep cells in healthy conditions, potentially staving off illnesses such as IBS, autoimmune disorders, allergies, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, and many others. CBD users can credit CB2 receptors for many of the purported health benefits they experience.
Effects of CBD on the Endocannabinoid System
As we already mentioned, cannabinoids like THC and CBD bind to the cannabinoid receptors located throughout your body. However, THC and CBD interact differently with these receptors. For instance, while THC may bind directly with a CB receptor, CBD may choose not to bind directly, instead of modifying its ability to bind with other cannabinoids. CBD, therefore, has a greater impact on the function of CB receptors and the overall endocannabinoid system.
The Role of Molecules and Enzymes
Now, the messengers (eCBs) and the recipients (CB receptors) have to come from somewhere, right? Well, as a matter of fact, the body has special molecules that are dedicated to producing these crucial components of the endocannabinoid system. ECBs (the chemical messengers in the ECS) are produced and broken down each day. The molecules that produce eCBs determine their ultimate destination in your body. Because eCBs are made from fats or oils, the body must produce different enzymes to synthesize them into simpler substances like anandamide and 2-AG. So, for the message to get to where it’s going, enzymes have to come into play to synthesize the messengers in the ECS.
To put it simply, molecules help with the production of eCBs while enzymes help break them down.
CBD Is Fat Soluble
Remember, CBD is fat-soluble and it can dissolve easily in the messengers (eCBs) found in the ECS. ECBs carrying CBD must be broken down or synthesized into simpler substances if the CBD (the message) is to be absorbed by CB receptors and in turn the various cells in your body.
It’s really that simple. The ECS is a comprehensive and fully-functional system in the body with intricate components and protocols that promote optimal body function. CBD has a special relationship with this system because it can affect how your CB receptors bind with other cannabinoids in the body.
Boosting the Health of Your ECS
Now that you are aware of the endocannabinoid system and its close relationship with CBD, it’s time to find out how you can boost your ECS health to improve your overall body health and well-being.
First and foremost, you have to know that the ECS is very sensitive. It can be affected by even the tiniest chemical change in your body. Production of the components of the ECS can be affected by things like diet, exercise, stress, and many other lifestyle choices. Failure to take good care of your overall health can cause your ECS to gradually deteriorate. Boosting your ECS is an easy way to get all other systems in the body, including your cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems, to function optimally.
One way to boost your ECS is to use high-quality hemp extract products. In fact, a full-spectrum CBD product also contains a wide range of phytocannabinoids, each of which will interact differently with CB receptors throughout your body. And, as we already mentioned, CB receptors have a huge impact on the health of your cells. So sampling products that can stimulate their activity could be beneficial to your entire body.
You can also take other measures to boost the health of your endocannabinoid system. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding unhealthy lifestyle habits can also help to boost your ECS.
Using CBD Products
Want to know how CBD interacts with your body? You’ll have to try these products for yourself! Of course, you should exercise caution when trying a new supplement, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. Always talk to a trusted healthcare provider before trying CBD. And remember: our bodies are built differently. Also, due to genetic variations, different people experience different reactions after using CBD products.
The bottom line is that the human body has an entire system dedicated to absorbing and synthesizing phytocannabinoids like CBD. This suggests (and studies confirm) that it is safe to use CBD products within their recommended doses, as long as your healthcare provider clears you for supplementation.
Finding High-Quality CBD Products
Just keep in mind that the key to enjoying many of CBD’s reported benefits is finding high-quality products. There are many CBD products on the market today, which is why it’s very important that you do some due diligence before purchasing hemp extract. Some of the products you find online are not produced with safety in mind. Always take your time to find high-quality and reputable suppliers who offer transparency about their products, and you’re set to explore how CBD can make a difference to your ECS.