The Endocannabinoid System

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The Endocannabinoid System

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) was discovered in the 1990’s. It is a biological system found in all mammals and is referred to as a “master regulatory system”. It works to maintain homeostasis, or balance, in the body. Simply stated, homeostasis is your body’s efforts to keep everything in the right zone. It tries to keep your internal environment stable and optimal no matter what’s going on in the environment around you. Just like the gauges in a car, your body continuously monitors important functions such as temperature, hormones, heart rate etc. When something falls out of range, your body activates the ECS to help correct it.

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How Does The Endocannabinoid System Work?

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is comprised of messengers and receptors. The body naturally produces chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) called endocannabinoids which are designed to help maintain the health level of the body. Two of the most plentiful endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-AG. These neurotransmitters bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, immune system, and throughout the body. There are two types of cannabinoid receptors; CB1 and CB2. These receptors act as a sort of lock, with cannabinoids acting as the key.

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CB1 and CB2 Receptors

CB1 receptors are mainly found in the brain, central nervous system and outlying organs and tissues. CB1 receptors generally work with core functions such as pain perception, motor activity, memory and stress response.

CB2 receptors are widely distributed throughout the body and work with major components like the immune system, gastrointestinal tract, muscular system, cardiovascular system and peripheral nervous system.

Through these CB1 and CB2 receptors, the ECS helps regulate a lot of important functions, such as:

  • Appetite
  • Digestion
  • Immune function
  • Inflammation
  • Mood
  • Sleep
  • Reproduction/fertility
  • Motor control
  • Temperature regulation
  • Memory
  • Pain
  • Pleasure/reward
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The ECS regulates how quickly neurotransmitters are being released; slowing them down or speeding them up as necessary in order to return to and maintain internal homeostasis

When the body does not produce enough endocannabinoids or cannot regulate them properly, it falls out of balance and systems of the body may begin to malfunction. Many common health problems can arise such as chronic pain, inflammation, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, autoimmune disorders, and depression.

How can CBD help?

CBD is a phytocannabinoid (phyto meaning plant) which is derived from the cannabis plant. CBD also interacts with the endocannabinoid system. CBD works because it mimics and augments the effects of the body’s own endocannabinoids. The main function of CBD is to slow down the breakdown of these endocannabinoids so that the body can use more of what it is naturally producing. CBD works as a modulator in the ECS to help the body regain homeostasis. When the right amount of CBD is added to the body, balance begins to return, and the body begins to heal itself. CBD’s effect on the endocannabinoid system, as well as its impact on other areas of the human body, suggest that it may be useful in treating a multitude of medical conditions. In this way, many people are finding that CBD can be a viable alternative to other pharmaceuticals.