The human body is a mysterious biological system that we are discovering more and more about every day. Scientists and biologists spend their days trying to understand how the body works, what makes it tick, and how to cure the host of diseases and ailments that plague the human race.
The human body is comprised of a collection of cells and systems that exist in a state of balance. The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is one such system. It regulates sleep, mood, pain, cognition, memory, motor coordination and so much more . It is with this system that CBD (Cannabidiol) interacts in order to cure the body and its ailments.
Recently discovered in 1988, the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) was first revealed in rats after a region of the rodent’s system interacted exclusively with THC found in cannabis . In 1995, researchers discovered that the ECS was not exclusive to rats, but extended to all vertebrate species – including, and most especially, humans . Thus the system was named after the sacred plant and has been studied for its restorative and balancing effects on the body since.
There are three main parts to the Endocannabinoid System:
- The Cannabinoids
- ECS receptors
- Break-down enzymes
Endocannabinoids are chemicals produced by the body when necessary. As endocannabinoids exist throughout the body in so many different areas, it is believed that they help the body to maintain a state of homeostasis, an equilibrium state that ensures balanced and effective bodily performance. This means that endocannabinoids are an integral part of many bodily functions .
There are two main endocannabinoids, Anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG). Anandamide is oftentimes called the “bliss molecule” for its ability to enhance moods and manage anxiety. 2-AG is more focused on regulatory body functions.
When these endocannabinoids are in surplus or deficit, serious disorders can ensue. While the body does produce cannabinoids on-demand, certain diseases or conditions may hinder that effect, thereby preventing the body from self-healing. Degenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, and hormonal issues, such as anxiety and depression, are some such conditions that reduce cannabinoid production and receptor uptakes.
Phytocannabinoids can be used to aid the ECS by balancing any surplus or deficits in the body. The term ‘endo-‘ means ‘within’. Thus the Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced within the body. THC and CBD are known as Phytocannabinoids as they are produced externally to the body but are still compatible with the Endocannabinoid System .
As with most bodily functions, the endocannabinoid production slows as the body ages. That is why phytocannabinoids become so important. They replenish deficits and rebalance the ECS, thereby preventing bodily malfunction. Phytocannabinoids also have other properties, discussed in further sections.
Cannabinoids will bond with a receptor in order to regulate that area of the Endocannabinoid System. Two main receptors exist, CB1 and CB2, which focus on cannabinoid uptake.
Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) is mostly found centred around the brain and nervous system. They maintain core functions such as motor skills, memory, cognitive functions, anxiety and hormone balances .
Cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) is found more scattered throughout the body, controlling peripheral organs and systems like the immune function, muscular system, digestive tracts and cardiovascular system .
Both endo- and phytocannabinoids use the same receptors to affect the body albeit in slightly different ways. Bonding to the CB1 and CB2 receptors affect various outcomes, from slowing enzymes decay rates and increasing the endocannabinoid effectiveness time.
Once a cannabinoid had served its purpose, enzymes arrive to break down the chemical. The Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) is responsible for breaking down AEA, and Monoacylglycerol acid lipase (MAGL) breaks down 2-AG . Enzymes are responsible for regulating the balance of cannabinoids in the system so that the body does not go into overdrive as a result of these levels becoming too high.
As endocannabinoids are synthesized, and broken down as needed, it is difficult to observe them when and where they will appear. This makes it difficult to trace. What is more, is that the enzymes that break them down, do so so rapidly that it is hard to study them further .
The difference between edno- and phytocannabinoids is that they cannot be broken down by the same enzymes. This allows phytocannabinoids, such as THC, to linger in the system for much longer. This incites the lingering high feeling that THC is known for .
CBD and Endocannabinoid System
CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive chemical produced by the cannabis plant that has been used for centuries to heal and regulate the body.
By bonding with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD helps to maintain homeostasis, thus restoring bodily functions to its optimal performance . This is why CBD has had such positive results with degenerative disease maintenance. It also helps protect the brain, increasing its longevity.
While CBD does bond with the endocannabinoid receptors in a similar way to AEA and 2-AG, it behaves in a slightly different way than expected. Instead of directly contributing to the stability of the body, it restricts enzyme performance levels thus intentionally creating either a surplus or deficit of endocannabinoids in the ECS.
Depending on the application, a surplus of endocannabinoids may aid regenerative properties in the same way that a deficit may reduce discomfort.
CBD functions by slowing down FAAH, thereby increasing the longevity of AEA in the system. This is what allows CBD to be so effective in treating anxiety, brain function and hormone balancing . CBD also weakens CB2 receptors, reducing the number of endocannabinoids produced, allowing pain and inflammation to reduce in the body .
For more information about what CBD can do for your body, look here.
Overall, CBD affects the effectiveness of the body’s enzymes and transport proteins, resulting in an excess of Anandamide (AEA), the primary endocannabinoids responsible for the bulk of bodily functions.
The Endocannabinoid System is a remarkable part of the human body that regulates and stabilizes basic and complex functions. It is regulated by cannabinoids, both internally and externally, produced. Boosted by phytocannabinoids, engaging the ECS can have positive effects on the body when used with intention.
I hope this helps your understanding the Endocannabinoid system and how it interacts with CBD to help keep you healthy and stable.
May all your days be high ones!
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Evarínya is a dancer, a dreamer, a cynic and a lover of glitter.
She began writing at a young age, creating her own private imaginary worlds to disappear into.
While her pursuit of her engineering degree side tracked her for a while, she has returned to the
world she loves in hopes of sharing her experiences and stories.
She believes in the empowerment of women through non-conventional methods and seeks to
uncover the world of cannabis through experimentation and the scientific method.
In her spare time, she reads avidly, sews and paints. She tutors part-time and blogs weekly. You can
find out more about her by reading her personal blog, Mist in the Mountains.