Following the discovery of phytocannabinoids such as CBD and THC, researchers began to study how these molecules work with our body. Soon after, they discovered a vast network of cellular receptors, and named it the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This discovery not only established how cannabinoids work, but also revealed a sophisticated system that helps the body maintain homeostasis. As such, the main 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 composes the ECS?
The ECS is made up of three key elements: 1. Cannabinoid Receptors, 2. Endocannabinoids and 3. Enzymes.
- Cannabinoid Receptors: CB1 and CB2 are the two main receptors. There are found in almost all cells throughout the body and different cannabinoids bind to, block or modulate the activity of these receptors. These cannabinoids include endogenous, or produced naturally by the body, and phytogenous, produced by plants, and lastly those synthesized in the lab.
Where are CB1 receptors found?
CB1 receptors are found throughout the human body, especially in the nervous system. Some of its main functions are appetite regulation, emotional processing and memory.
Where are CB2 receptors found?
CB2 receptors are found primarily in the immune system and peripheral nervous system. Some of its main functions include reduce inflammation and response to disease.
- Endocannabinoids: synthesized in the body and bind to Cannabinoid Receptors to signal certain functions. The two primary endocannabinoids produced in the body are anandamide and 2-AG. Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor and the function it has on the body depends not only on which receptor, but also where that receptor is located. For example, endocannabinoids might target CB1 receptors in the spinal nerve to relieve pain. Others might bind to a CB2 receptor in immune cells to signal that the body is experiencing inflammation.
- Enzymes: responsible for breaking 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 system. 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 1. THC and 2. 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: has a low binding affinity to CB21 and CB2 receptors but works to stimulate the receptors by increasing serum levels of endo and phytocannabinoids. Research have suggested that CBD can help with pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with multiple conditions.
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, the clinical diagnosis is Endocannabinoid Deficiency. There are many ways to keep it running efficiently.
- Phytocannabinoids: taking phytocannabinoids daily will help support the health of your endocannabinoid system
- Exercise: running, yoga and spinning are simple ways to boost levels of anandamide
- Omega fatty acids: 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-3s, it helps boost the efficacy of CBD
- Caryophyllene: A terpene found in herbs and cannabis and also binds to CB2 receptor. Ingesting this terpene soothes the nerves and raises the mood. Rosemary, black peppeer, hops, cloves and oregano all contain high levels of caryophyllene. Our CBD extract naturally contains high levels of this terpene.
- Other dietary cannabinoids: cannabinoids are found most abundantly in cannabis but can also be found in other plants. Here are some of the most popular –
*truffle: anandamide (CB1 and CB2)
*Echinacea: alkamides (CB22)
*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, it could eventually hold the key to treating many conditions.
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.