The endocannabinoid system was first discovered when scientists were trying to study the effects of hemp in humans. Although much about this system remains unknown, what is known is that the human body has many cannabinoid receptors.
Our bodies also produce corresponding molecules that have the psychological and physical effects similar to cannabis. Thanks to this system, cannabis is very effective for our bodies.
After it was discovered, the endocannabinoid system is now a prime target in medical research because of its therapeutic potential and vast effects on our bodies. To start us off, let us look at endocannabinoids.
What Are Endocannabinoids?
The cannabinoids that the body produces naturally are known as endocannabinoids. These are created in the body fatty acids like the omega-3. The natural endocannabinoids assess to ensure that there’s no too much activity happening in the body before it can accept more stimulation or even the system sending more messages.
This then implies that endocannabinoids get created when needed with them acting as a “control switch” which affects where, how often, and fast messages get transmitted. And that’s what makes the proper health and functioning of the ECS very crucial.
The Role of Endocannabinoids
After the discovery of the ECS, researchers have since learned more about the interactive relationship between endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids.
Since endocannabinoids are found throughout various functions of your body, researchers believe that their role is to help in the maintenance of these body functions.
When you imagine your body to be like a machine, different systems work together to support the functions of the machine. Our immune system would be the filtration system, while the brain is the motherboard. Thus the endocannabinoids help maintain all these systems.
What Is Anandamide And What Role Does It Play In Our Bodies?
Anandamide was the first endocannabinoid that scientists discovered. Its name is derived from Sanskrit word “ananda” which means bliss. Anandamide is found in higher concentrations in different areas around the body but away from our brain.
This endocannabinoid, however, does more than simply make you feel “high”, it’s synthesised in those parts of the brain which are known for things like, motivation, memory, movement, higher thought processes, appetite, fertility, and pain.
Anandamide is a chemical that triggers us to battle depression and anxiety, forget unimportant details, increase neurogenesis(new nerve cells creation), improve your happiness, and runner’s high (rewards for a task well done).
It is believed that when your body naturally has more anandamide, then you’ll not be needing cannabis. Still, can you imagine what your body would be like if it wasn’t producing enough?
What Types Of Cannabinoid Receptors Are There?
Although receptors were not created for CBD, they can and do interact with the cannabinoid receptors. These are mainly part of your ECS and receive endocannabinoids as well as the messages they transmit from your brain. The fun fact is that these receptors far outnumber all other receptors present in your brain.
So, when a person uses cannabis, they are basically supplementing their ECS thus their receptors get stimulated. Rightly so, it means that over-expressions and many deficiencies for certain symptoms of the disease may be “course-corrected” using plant-based cannabinoids such as CBD and THC.
The types of receptors are:
- CB1 (Cannabinoid Receptor 1): These are mainly found in our nervous system, the brain, liver, kidneys, and the lungs. Our naturally occurring endocannabinoids and cannabinoid THC from hemp plant primarily bind with CB1 (because of their molecular structures are similar), relieving patients of any pain, depression, and nausea, among others.
- CB2 (Cannabinoid Receptor 2): These receptors are primarily found in the body’s immune system, with a high concentration in the gastrointestinal system and the spleen. These receptors best bind with cannabis’ CBD and endocannabinoid 2-AG and serve to regulate our appetite, our immune system functions such as pain management and inflammation.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The Endocannabinoid system’s communications are made up of messengers and receptors. By nature, our brain produces endocannabinoid molecules (such as 2-AG or 2-arachidonoylglycerol and anandamide), which are your bodies own messengers that are found in connective tissues, your brain, glands, immune cells, and organs.
Endocannabinoids, such as anandamide are like your body’s home-grown THC but with a very shorter effect in your body than that of cannabis THC. Basically, anandamide is the body’s natural “high” molecule.
Cannabinoids seek out and activate the body’s cannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2). Once they get together a message is sent to your body for it to feel a specific way and even do certain things. Cannabinoids also help regulate and affect how other bodily systems operate, for instance, in your nervous system, gastrointestinal system and the immune system.
Also, there are plant cannabinoids which can be found in the cannabis plant (CBD and THC being the biggest), as well as synthetic cannabinoids, that are lab-created thus can be to nearly 600 times more powerful as compared to THC.
With this in mind, the simplest way to describe the ECS would be it’s a balancing system (like a homeostatic regulator): since it transmits neurotransmitters (both messenger and communication molecules) to your entire body to ensure that everything is running smoothly. It will also confirm whether anything requires rebalancing. When it locates a problem, it sends further instructions to the receptors which in turn regulate how you think and feel.
What Does The Endocannabinoid System Do?
Essentially, the endocannabinoid system regulates all the patterns and basic functions that run in your body including pregnancy, fertility, and reproductive systems, hunger, appetite, and digestive systems, motor control, sleep, pain and pleasure, temperature, immune function, mood, and memory as well as other cannabinoids effects.
Since the ECS supports most of your body’s systems – such as the digestive, immune, reproductive, gastrointestinal, peripheral and central nervous systems, and more, so Cannabinoid receptors can be found throughout your whole body.
Large quantities of CB1 receptors are located in the body’s central nervous system and CB2 receptors are mostly found in your gastrointestinal tract, on immune cells, and peripheral nervous systems. And this goes to show you how the wide variety of functions the ECS provides for us.
What Are Exogenous Cannabinoids?
Different from endocannabinoids, the exogenous cannabinoids like those you ingest by using cannabis are introduced to your body and remain there for much longer time spans.
The exogenous cannabinoids do to a great extent activate the endocannabinoid system (ECS), making it operate at more productive and stronger than it usually does.
Let’s look at examples of Exogenous cannabinoids.
According to research, the cannabinoid THC can bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. When consumed, it activates these receptors in a similar manner as an endocannabinoid.
THC effects are mostly thought to be psychological, however, the compound continues to work beyond giving you a blissful feeling. It has also proven to bring relief with nausea, chronic pain, appetite, glaucoma, and asthma.
Additionally, THC may work against cancer and when taken with CBD, it will have a symbiotic effect on your body.
Actually, CBD doesn’t bind to receptors but rather works through inhibiting the FAAH enzyme that slows down and prevents the synthesis of anandamide – one of the most important endocannabinoids in your body. This results in anandamide building up in the brain.
Although THC can cause psychological effects on your mind, CBD seems to work on a physiological level. Again, its medicinal benefits continue to be discovered.
But CBD is known to help treat serious medical conditions such as nausea, inhibiting tumour growth, diabetes, preventing or reducing inflammation, epilepsy, PTSD, antipsychotic, schizophrenia, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, anti-anxiety and as a painkiller for neuropathic pain and muscle spasms.
How does CBD affect the Endocannabinoid System?
So far we’ve looked at the Endocannabinoid System, now let’s dive deeper as to how it’s interactions with phytocannabinoids such as CBD benefits the body. But first,
Why Do We Need Phytocannabinoids?
Similar to any machine―be it as a result of damage, poor maintenance, or natural aging―your body’s systems and parts can malfunction and deteriorate with time. When this happens, the whole body is affected and this can cause various health problems.
As phytocannabinoids interact with your body’s endocannabinoid receptors, often the effect is therapeutic – hence it improves the general working of your endocannabinoid system.
Deficient or excessive levels of endocannabinoids may cause your body systems to operate poorly. This can result in a cluster of illnesses that are believed to be caused by Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD).
Plants like cannabis, produce a component similar to endocannabinoids which interacta with your body’s cannabinoid receptors. The phytocannabinoids, which literally means plant-made cannabinoids, may have profound effects on your body.
Though there are numerous plants that produce components that affect your cannabinoid receptors, the only known plant to produce cannabidiol is Cannabis sativa.
How Does CBD Work?
Research has shown that once CBD bonds with CB1 or CB2 receptors, it improves or alters the receptor’s capabilities, thereby enhancing its functionality.
Additionally, when your body is suffering from cannabinoid deficiency and CBD is administered, it can help rebalance the deficiency (based on studies it is believed that cannabinoids are finite resources, and deficiency of cannabinoids could cause irritability, headaches, and other health issues as well).
In short, CBD acts as a power-up for your Endocannabinoid System. And when it bonds with your body’s receptors, it not only helps support the vital health functions of the body―CBD helps balance or renew the state of homeostasis within the body. Therefore, it is the basis of its numerous health benefits.
What is Endocannabinoid Deficiency?
CECD (Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency) is a health condition where the body produces lower levels of cannabinoids. This is often an amount lower than what experts believe to be essential for the promotion of well-being, vitality, and health in our bodies.
Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency is involved in a wide scope of disorders. By now you are aware that your endocannabinoid system has different receptors found throughout your whole body. One of the main functions of ECS is to sustain your body in a state of balance. This means any unbalanced levels of cannabinoids will cause negative reactions in your body.
From what the endocannabinoid system can achieve in the body, it implies that phytocannabinoids (plant-made cannabinoids) could have a role to play in reducing or treating the symptoms of many conditions.
To give a short definition; CEDC is any illness or condition that occurs due to lack of cannabinoids in your body. Although your body is capable of producing its own endocannabinoids, some people might have cannabinoid levels that are not healthy and so they may end up suffering from various ailments.
The good news is that CBD can help reverse that for these individuals, giving them the relieve they desire for improved health. So, how does CBD help cure CECD?
Can CBD help cure Endocannabinoid Deficiency?
Different from THC, CBD will not directly bind to the cannabinoid receptors, however, its primary function is to inhibit the release of the enzyme FAAH (fatty acid amidose hydrolase). This enzyme synthesises anandamide, our body’s natural endogenous cannabinoid. And by suppressing FAAH, the CBD oil product enhances the endocannabinoid tone thus causing medicinal benefits in your body.
With a health condition such as migraines, anandamide has a super important part to play. THC imitates its shape and therefore might cause similar healing results in your body.
While CBD has become well-known as a strong anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic, there’s still no clear answer as to whether it can help relieve migraines like the THC-rich medicines.
Our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids, but by researching more on plant cannabinoids from cannabis, it is now possible for us to increase these levels. And this can help boost our wellbeing, vitality and good health.
When the Endocannabinoid System is out of balance, your body will have a hard time sending and receiving messages from your brain.
Fortunately, every year scientists continue to discover new data about cannabinoids and the cannabinoid receptors. Therefore, it’s essential that you keep up-to-date on the latest findings to increase your knowledge and also modify your health care programme.