Following the discovery of phytocannabinoids such as CBD and THC, researchers studied how these molecules work with our body. Soon, they uncovered a vast network of cellular receptors intricately linked to vital functions. They named it the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The discovery not only established how cannabinoids work, but also revealed a sophisticated system that helps the body maintain homeostasis. The primary function of the ECS is to ensure other processes are running smoothly in the background. Almost all functions of the body involve the ECS. Using the body temperature as an example of homeostasis, the ECS helps regulate the temperature between 96.8—98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. If it falls below or rises above that range, your body is not running optimally.
What comprises the ECS?
The ECS comprises three key elements: 1. Cannabinoid Receptors, 2. Endocannabinoids and 3. Enzymes.
- Cannabinoid Receptors: CB1 and CB2 are the names given to the main receptors of the ECS. They are found in almost all cells throughout the body. Cannabinoids bind to, block or modulate the activity of these receptors. This includes cannabinoids produced by the body, called endogenous cannabinoids, and phytogenous cannabinoids, which are produced by plants. Other cannabinoids, such as those synthesized in the lab, also work directly with the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Where are CB1 receptors found?
CB1 receptors are found throughout the body, but concentrated in the nervous system. Their main functions include appetite regulation, emotional processing, and memory.
Where are CB2 receptors found?
CB2 receptors are found primarily in the immune system and peripheral nervous system. Their primary functions include aiding in the management of inflammatory responses.
- Endocannabinoids are produced by the body and bind to Cannabinoid Receptors to signal certain functions. The two primary endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-AG. Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor and cause a range of effects. For example, an endocannabinoid might connect with a CB1 receptor in the spinal nerve and help regulate the body’s pain response. Others might bind to a CB2 receptor in immune cells to signal that the body is experiencing inflammation.
- Enzymes break down what’s left of the endocannabinoids once they’ve served their function.
Phytocannabinoids and how they interact with the endocannabinoid system
Endocannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids work like a lock and key. Once the endocannabinoid binds to the receptor, it causes the cells to change their activity and trigger a collective shift toward a state of balance. Phytocannabinoids work similarly.
The two main phytocannabinoids are THC and CBD.
THC: The molecular structure of THC is remarkably similar to anandamide—an endocannabinoid produced naturally in the human body—which enables it to bind to and stimulate both CB1 and CB2 receptors. The altered state of consciousness is triggered by THC binding to the CB1 receptor in the central nervous system, leading to a surge in dopamine levels, among other physiological changes.
CBD: This molecule has a low binding affinity to CB21 and CB2 receptors, but works to stimulate the receptors by increasing serum levels of endo and phytocannabinoids.
How to Keep Your Endocannabinoid System Running Smoothly
The endocannabinoid system plays a fundamental role in keeping human physiology in balance. When our body is not running optimally, Endocannabinoid Deficiency might be to blame. There are many ways to keep it running efficiently.
- Taking phytocannabinoids daily can help support the health of your endocannabinoid system.
- Exercise, such as running, yoga, and spinning, are simple ways to boost levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide.
- The body requires omega-3 fatty acids to synthesize endocannabinoids. Foods high in omega-3’s include hemp oil and seeds, olive oil, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. Each dose of our signature strength CBD gives you 728-1500mg of omega-3’s.
- Caryophyllene, a terpene found in herbs and cannabis, also binds to CB2 receptors. Ingesting this terpene can help your system function optimally. Rosemary, black pepper, hops, cloves and oregano all contain high levels of caryophyllene. Our CBD extract naturally contains high levels of this terpene.
- Other cannabinoids found abundantly in cannabis can also be found in other plants. Here are some of the most popular places to get phytocannabinoids:
*Truffle: anandamide (CB1 and CB2)
*Echinacea: alkamides (CB2)
*Maca: macamide (CB1)
*Kava: yangonin (CB1)
There is still much research to be done on ECS. As scientists develop a better understanding of this system, we will learn more about the body’s overall functionality and how our system can best interact with cannabinoids.
Love and light,
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This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.