The endocannabinoid system was first characterized in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. It is a central regulatory system that affects a wide range of biological processes similar to our immune system, nervous system, and all of the body’s organs. CBD helps bring your entire body back into balance… not just one single area (like most supplements).
The Endocannabinoid System supports functions such as:
- Motor Function
- Immune response
- Pain perception
- Blood Pressure
- Bone Cell Growth
- The protection of neural tissues
- and many others
Though the EC system may serve different functions in different tissues, the overall goal of the entire endocannabinoid system is to achieve homeostasis. Homeostasis is the body’s ability to maintain and regulate a stable internal environment, despite ever-changing external conditions. For example, for most of us, some days are more stressful than others. Our hormones can be “off” for any number of reasons. This is one way that our body is unbalanced and considered not in homeostasis. For that and many other reasons, we need to make it our daily priority to ensure that we are doing all we can to keep our bodies in homeostasis.
Furthermore, cannabinoids are natural chemical messengers that activate biochemical receptors to regulate and control various body functions such as temperature, cognition and mood. There are two types of cannabinoids: endogenous cannabinoids and exogenous cannabinoids.
Endogenous Cannabinoid System and Exogenous Cannabinoids
First of all, endogenous cannabinoids, or endocannabinoids, are produced by cells in the human body. The two major endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG); hence, they are considered our natural form of THC. This system runs throughout the entire body and, as a result, is responsible for general health and is arguably one of the most important of our physiological systems. Furthermore, 2-AG is found in the central nervous system and plays a role in immune function, pain management and appetite. These cannabinoids function as neurotransmitters; as a result, they are only produced when the body needs them. (Isn’t our endocannabinoid system amazing?)
Exogenous cannabinoids, which are produced outside of the body, are also capable of binding to and activating cannabinoid receptors. Phytocannabinoids, produced by plants, are a natural source of these chemical transmitters.
The most noteworthy phytocannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and is the only cannabinoid which produces psychoactive effects, or the “high” experienced by marijuana smokers. CBD, CBN CBG, CBC and terpenes provide a list of medicinal health benefits without the psychoactive results.
What are Cannabinoid Receptors?
For cannabinoids to positively influence the body, they require communication with cannabinoid receptors. There are two cannabinoid receptors within the human body: CB1 and CB2.
CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain and central nervous system and connective tissue, but can also be found in peripheral organs. effecting such brain functions as decision making, cognitive, creativity, memory, emotion, sleep responses, appitite and many more,
CB2 receptors are mostly found in the immune and lymphatic systems and are responsible for such bodily functions as metabolism, digestion, pain perception, energy balance, bone growth and blood pressure.
It is for these reasons that we must always strive to achieve a balanced system. Research is accumulating that shows that CB1 dominance is associated with increased perception of stress, anxiety, paranoia augmented appetite, and decreased nausea and vomiting and pain perception, and a host of other issues.
Homeostasis is ALWAYS the Goal
The endocannabinoid system plays a key role in achieving homeostasis. Homeostasis provides your body an internal environment that allows cells and organs to function properly. Therefore, if your internal environment is unstable, it may lead to dangerous health complications.
In addition to maintaining homeostasis in the body, the endocannabinoid system is also responsible for regulating important physiological functions such as:
- Peripheral sensation including pain
- Energy and metabolism
- Cognitive function
- Female reproduction
- Bone mass
- Immune, digestive and cardiovascular function
Cannabinoids & Chronic Disease
For individuals experiencing certain chronic medical conditions or diseases, cannabinoids can impact the severity of symptoms according to pre-clinical studies and research. Most-importantly, cannabinoid-based treatments are on the rise to help patients experience symptomatic relief from:
- Chronic pain
- Inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and myofascial pain syndrome
- Psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia
- Cardiovascular disease
The Potential of the Human Endocannabinoid System
Therefore, the human endocannabinoid system is unique and complex, and it is a system we are still just beginning to comprehend. Pre-clinical studies have indicated that by modulating endocannabinoid system activity, there is therapeutic potential in almost all disease states that affect humans.
With absolutely unmatched potential, focusing on the endocannabinoid system in humans could reap health benefits not previously experienced with other pharmacological therapies.