We’ve learned so much about the Endocannabinoid System that it’s hard to believe it was only discovered in the 1990s. Endocannabinoids are naturally-produced molecules that exist in the human body and mirror the structure of cannabis molecules (cannabinoids). These molecules are present all over our bodies, from our liver and heart to our skin to our immune system. That’s good news: it means that cannabis can work in our body to make use healthier. Let’s explore the ECS and what it means for CBD and the body.
So What Does the Endocannabinoid System Do?
Whether or not you use cannabis, the ECS is active in your body. Scientists now believe it plays a role in sleep, appetite, mood, reproduction, and even memory. Endocannabinoid is sort for endogenous cannabinoids, or cannabinoids produced by and natural to the human body. These endocannabinoids, like cannabinoids, bind to their receptors and tell the ECS that it needs to get to work.
There are CB1 and CB2 ECS receptors. CB1 receptors reside primarily in the central nervous system, CB2 in the peripheral nervous system. The receptor bound to results in the corresponding change (binding to CB1 might relieve nerve pain, while the CB2 receptor would be in charge of inflammation, an immune system issue).
So How Do CBD and the ECS Work Together?
Researchers don’t believe that CBD binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the same way THC does. Instead, it is widely theorized that CBD keeps endocannabinoids from being broken down. As there is some, hovering above negligible, CBD in THC-rich cannabis, this makes sense.
Instead of interacting directly with receptors, CBD plays a role in binding the cannabinoids to the enodcannabinoid system. Furthermore, CBD enhances natural levels of endocannabinoids in the body through interaction with and occupation of certain enzymes. This is a big deal, because a holistic alternative to medicating with THC is to naturally restore your body’s own endocannabinoid levels. CBD is one method of achieving this.
So How Does the ECS Regulate Your Body?
In a word, the ECS regulates your body by keeping it at homeostasis, which refers to the ability of the body to self-regulate and self-repair to a degree. Basically, homeostasis means keeping everything as it should be.
When something in your body goes beyond the parameters of normal operating range, the Endocannabinoid System kicks in to re-regulate. An easy example is when you’re starting to overheat. As you start to sweat, that’s the ECS working to cool you down. When you’re in a lot of pain, the ECS is what helps you start to heal.
Again, thank the CB1 and CB2 receptors for this. As CB1 is in the central nervous system, and CB2 in the peripheral nervous system, they regulate everything from appetite to pain. Again, this is where CBD helps us so much, by padding and strengthening the endocannabinoid system. In contrast, when someone smokes cannabis, the response is less precise than with natural endocannabinoids, and harmful effects may set in along with the helpful ones. Thus, CBD plays a role in homeostasis and your body’s ability to regulate.
CBD really is a marvel. If you take one thing away from this article, it’s that the scientific benefit of CBD is that it strengthens compounds (endocannabinoids) found occurring naturally in the body. It is a healthier alternative to smoking cannabis (which, we’re not advocating against). More than healthy, it’s a powerful holistic method of keeping everything in the body copacetic.