28 Jul What is the endocannabinoid system?
- The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signalling system found throughout the body
- It regulates many vital processes, including sleep, pain, mood and appetite
- The ECS consists of three key parts: endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes
- CBD can support the functioning of the ECS and contribute to the maintenance of a balanced internal state
When was the last time you thought about how your endocannabinoid system is doing? Was it yesterday, a month ago, or perhaps never?
We are constantly reminded that to feel well we need to eat well, exercise regularly and sleep for at least 7 hours every night. But if you’re here to understand the endocannabinoid system better, then you might already know that there is more to feeling good than a healthy diet, good exercise and plenty of sleep.
So what is the endocannabinoid system? What happens when it doesn’t work properly? And, most importantly, what do the endocannabinoid system and CBD have in common? Let’s find out!
Table of Contents
What is the endocannabinoid system?
Discovered in the ’90s, the endocannabinoid system (also referred to as ECS) has been a hot topic within the health and wellness industry.
The ECS has been explored by scientists and medical professionals specialising in various illnesses, from chronic pain issues and gastrointestinal conditions to beauty and nutrition. So, what is the endocannabinoid system and how does it work? The simplest explanation is that it’s a biological system in the human body that helps make sure your organs, and your entire body, stay in balance. The ECS consists of three distinctive parts:
- Cannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2)
The endocannabinoid system’s role is to quietly participate in managing various processes in your body, which you most likely take for granted.
Inflammation and pain levels, appetite, sleep quality, and different emotional responses such as anxiety and stress are just a few worth mentioning.
What are endocannabinoids?
Now that we have answered the question of what is the endocannabinoid system, we can focus on the role of the individual players.
Endocannabinoids are the messengers in the endocannabinoid system. They are molecules produced in your nerve cells, and their primary purpose is to carry out various messages to different parts of the body to help cater for its wants and needs.
Your body can produce various types of endocannabinoids, and they can each carry a different message resulting in a different outcome. But one factor always remains the same – endocannabinoids are there to make sure your body and your organs know how to respond correctly to various needs and challenges.
WHAT ARE CANNABINOID RECEPTORS?
It is, of course, not enough to just send a message – it also needs to be received, understood, and implemented. And that’s the job of cannabinoid receptors.
We, as humans, have over 20 different types of cannabinoid receptors, but CB1 and CB2 receptors are the best-known ones, and they can be found in abundance in the human body.
The primary role of cannabinoid receptors is to change the intensity of various processes in the body. The type of process depends on which receptor is being used and where it’s located.
Your brain, for example, is full of CB1 receptors. These receptors are also distributed throughout your nervous system, playing a role in functions such as movement, thinking, memory, and pain. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, can be found in parts of the body that are responsible for various immune responses.
Most parts of the body will have a mix of various receptors, but some might have more of one than the other.
What are enzymes?
The role of enzymes in the endocannabinoid system is straightforward – they are paper shredders.
When an endocannabinoid is done with its job of sending a message to the correct recipient, the enzymes step in and dissolve it, making sure it departs our body safely.
Enzymes also allow our receptors to return to their original state, making it possible for a new endocannabinoid to attach itself to the receptor and for a new message to come through.
How does the endocannabinoid system work?
A healthy ECS works continuously and seamlessly. Firstly, messages are sent through endocannabinoids any time your body notices that specific processes need adjusting.
After that, the endocannabinoids find the right receptors and bind to them. This action transfers the relevant information to the cannabinoid receptors and allows them to act upon the information received.
Once the messages have been received loud and clear, enzymes come in to clean up the place and remove the endocannabinoids that have just fulfilled their duty and role.
This process of sending a message, translating it and acting upon it takes place constantly and continuously. Of course, there is a lot more to the process, and it’s way more nuanced than that, but for those of us who are not scientists or neurobiologists, this is all we need to know.
What is THE FUNCTION OF ENDOCANNABINOIDS & THE ECS?
While more research needs to be done, early research suggests that the ECS plays a crucial role in many processes which contribute to us living happy and healthy lives.
Anxiety, sleep quality, depression, inflammations (including arthritis), pain, and appetite may all be influenced by how endocannabinoids and receptors work together.
The ECS is spread throughout your entire body. Receptors can be found in your lungs, liver, heart, skin, and many other places you don’t even think about until they stop working properly.
Having answered the question of what is the endocannabinoid system, we can now focus on learning more about how this knowledge can help you.
What are the therapeutic uses of cannabinoids?
Now that you know what endocannabinoids do and why they are so important, it is time to talk about cannabinoids. And yes, endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are two different things!
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds which, unlike endocannabinoids, can be found in various strains of the cannabis plant, such as hemp. We still haven’t discovered them all, but scientists know of at least 114 different cannabinoids.
Some of the most popular ones are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is known for its ability to intoxicate, while CBD, found in large quantities in hemp, is known for its ability to benefit health without making you feel high. Other cannabinoids that you might have heard of are CBN, CBG or THC-8, each having a different role and function to play.
But what’s so unique about cannabinoids? The fascinating thing about these compounds (which are produced by mother nature) is that they strongly resemble the endocannabinoids produced in the human body. This means that the endocannabinoid system and CBD can work together and be on the same team.
Just like endocannabinoids, cannabinoids can bind themselves to CB1 and CB2 receptors. Some can bind with both, and some can bind with just one of these two. Depending on which receptors they bind with and what message they carry, they will cause different effects.
Fascinated by this discovery, modern science is on a quest to understand how various cannabinoids interact with the ECS and how they can be used to improve human health.
While we do not suggest you replace any of your medication with CBD, we do know that the endocannabinoid system and CBD are a mix that can work very well together. Additionally, early research does suggest that CBD could be a helpful tool in managing symptoms of a multitude of health issues:
The ECS & Mental Health
One of the things medical specialists are trying to learn more about is the impact of cannabinoids on patients battling various mental illnesses. Researchers are trying to find out if supporting the ECS through cannabinoid supplementation could be a helpful tool in managing symptoms of mental illnesses, such as:
Several early studies have shown that there is a connection between certain mental illnesses and a dysfunctioning endocannabinoid system, bringing hope that cannabinoids could be a healthy addition to the current treatment methods.
More and more people who struggle with the daily demands of everyday life have also decided to put their knowledge about the endocannabinoid system and CBD into practice. They turn to cannabinoids, such as CBD – and the self-reported results are exciting.
The ECS & physical health
Being able to take part in managing different processes such as pain, inflammation and muscle tension, it is no wonder that cannabinoids can impact how you and your body feels.
This is why many people with pain-related illnesses (such as PMS, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, arthritis or other, often unexplained, pains) will talk to their doctors about the potential use of cannabinoids as a pain management tool.
Using cannabinoid supplements might also help people struggling with gastrointestinal diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or IBS, as our digestive tracts are full of cannabinoid receptors.
Last but not least, CBD topicals can also be applied to support a tired or injured body.
Many athletes are turning to CBD balms, creams and massage oils to help their bodies recover and restore after a heavy workout.
As we learn more about the endocannabinoid system, a new idea is emerging within the scientific community. What if endocannabinoid deficiency is a contributing factor behind some conditions which cannot otherwise be explained?
If this is indeed the case, it would suggest some people who are not responding to traditional treatments might potentially find relief in the act of supplementing their ECS. Only time will tell.
Should you try using cannabinoid products? Unfortunately, we can not answer that question for you. The only way to tell if this will work for you is to try it and let your body do the talking. But if our customers’ feedback can tell us anything, it’s that your endocannabinoid system and CBD from NATURECAN will be a winning team.
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