UNDERSTANDING THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM (ECS) and CBD
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is vital to our bodies and our functions, and CBD can assist the ECS to perform better.
, how CBD is of benefit to the ECS and to us?
The first thing I want to ensure you are aware of is the fact that CBD is made from the Hemp Plant and has very low psychoactive properties.
It can be made from Cannabis but the same benefits will not be experienced.
THE DISCOVERY OF THE ECS, CBD, AND CANNABINOID RECEPTORS
The hemp plant has been in our history for a long time, it has only been recently that scientists discovered that the human body makes cannabinoids and they are used by the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
It was in Israel in 1964, where the Scientist Professor Raphael Mechoulama (Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – Israel) discovered the ECS, Cannabinoids, and CBD.
This was a Scientific Breakthrough.
Professor Mechoulama continues to do a lot of research on CBD.
CANNABINOID RECEPTORS AND ENDOCANNABINOIDS
The first cannabinoid receptor was found in a rat brain in 1988.
They found that the cannabinoid receptors worked exclusively with the receptors found in the cannabis compound THC.
It was noted that the cannabinoid receptors found in the rat were mostly located in the brain.
They were found in the area responsible for mental and physiological processes like memory, cognition, emotion and motor function.
In 1990 a team of Scientists led by Lisa Matsuda (at The Institute of Medicine National Academy of Sciences) started understanding the ECS some more and further research began to take place.
Lisa and her team found out that endocannabinoids and the cannabinoid receptors they stick to are located throughout the body.
They were found in the central nervous system, glands, immune cells, brain, organs, peripheral nervous system, and many different connective tissues.
These findings had the potential to take over and change the way we viewed health and wellness.
A second cannabinoid receptor was identified five years later.
This receptor was located throughout the immune system and peripheral tissues of the body, and it had the same reaction to THC as the first receptor.
The excitement was building now – these scientists were onto something amazing.
By 1995, the two cannabinoid receptors were named CB1 and CB2.
At this stage, research had yet to deliver any health benefits …. but they had revealed one amazing breakthrough…….our bodies are designed to interact with cannabinoids.
As research and technology improved, they went on to study the relationship between the cannabinoid receptors in our body (referred to as Endocannabinoids) and the cannabinoid receptors found in Cannabis compounds i.e CBD and THC (referred to as Phytocannabinoids).
ECS A.K.A THE META-SYSTEM OF THE BODY
The Endocannabinoid System is often described as a “meta-system” as it interacts and supports all of the systems in our bodies.
Just like the nervous system keeps everything connected the ECS helps to regulate physiological and cognitive processes, here is a list of some of them:
- Pre and post-natal development
- Pain Sensation
- Mediating pharmacological effects of cannabis
- Physical Exercise
- Locomotor Activity
- The motivation of Silence for rewards
- Exercise-induced euphoria (runner’s high)
WHAT DOES THE ECS TRY TO ACHIEVE?
In each part of the body, the endocannabinoid system has a different job to do, but it only has one goal in mind: to provide and maintain Homeostasis.
Homeostasis is when your body is functioning at an optimum level.
CANNABINOIDS, RECEPTORS, AND ENZYMES
A good analogy of how Cannabinoids work with Cannabinoid Receptors is like a key and lock. The Cannabinoids act as a key and the Cannabinoid Receptors are like a Lock.
So when a key fits a lock, the lock is opened.
In the body, when a Cannabinoid fits a Cannabinoid Receptor an effect occurs, that effect depends on the Cannabinoid and where it is in the body.
There are two main types of Cannabinoids found in our bodies.
The first is Anandamide and the second is 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).
2-AG is the most prevalent Endocannabinoid and is responsible for Appetite, Pain Response, and Immune System Functions.
Anandamide is responsible for our mental state. It is often called “the bliss molecule”, as it is said to be the pleasurable feeling one gets from exercise, and the ‘blissful state’ felt when doing yoga and meditation.
There is some research that suggests it also helps in apoptotic cell death (this is helping harmful cells to die) and regulate memory.
There are two main Cannabinoid Receptors.
CB1 and CB2 – they receive the messages that the Cannabinoids send.
CB1 receptors exist in the brain and spinal cord. They work to regulate appetite, memory, and to reduce pain.
CB2 receptors are mostly found in the immune system but also exist through many other areas of the body, including the gut, spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, bones, blood vessels, lymph cells, endocrine glands, and reproductive organs.
CB2 receptors are also plentiful on the skin which allows topicals treatments to have an effect on the ECS.
CB2s main role is in reducing inflammation throughout the body.
Enzymes are another important factor in the ECS.
A good way to think of them is like the cleanup crew of the ECS.
They recycle the endocannabinoids after they have been used by the body. They ensure that the Endocannabinoids get broken down and does not get used longer than it is meant to be.
There are two main Enzymes in the ECS, they are Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) and Monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL).
FAAH breaks down Anandamide and MAGL breaks down 2-AG, which keeps these two Cannabinoids balanced within the body.
Without these Enzymes, ECS would not be able to achieve Homeostasis.
THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM AND CBD
CBD comes from the hemp plant and it is now becoming recognised as being able to offer medical assistance without the psychoactive effects of THC. (you can get CBD from Marijuana but it has a high THC content and low CBD content)
Some exciting research has just revealed that the ECS not only uses endocannabinoids that our body produces but it can also use external cannabinoids, like CBD.
CBD is to ECS like Oil is to a Car, it is the substance that keeps the system running smoothly.
We have just learned that the ECS is involved in all other systems in our bodies and that all these systems need to be balanced to be working in top condition, when they are not, illness, disease, and disorders show up.
CBD helps the body to use the cannabinoids that naturally occur in our body.
When introduced to the body, CBD finds and sticks to CB1 and CB2 (there are those receptors again) and it alters the receptor to improve its functioning.
By doing this, CBD is not only helping to maintain vital bodily functions, but it is restoring Homeostasis, and as we learned before, this is the ECS’s number one goal.
So you can see CBD is very helpful to the ECS and in turn, can provide us with amazing health benefits.
The National Institute of Health has also acknowledged that by introducing cannabinoids like CBD to the body, can provide treatment to a number of illnesses.
So, If the body needs the ECS to run smoothly to be healthy, and CBD supports the ECS, it appears there are huge benefits to using CBD.
WHAT CAN CBD HELP WITH?
How many of us think our body is in Homeostasis?
I believe, that almost 80% of us would say that our bodies are nowhere near balanced and healthy.
I also believe that most illnesses, disorders, and diseases are a result of an imbalance somewhere in our body.
Consider these few health conditions below that are clearly a result of an imbalance and the ways CBD can help re-balance them:
- Stress and anxiety – caused by an imbalance of hormones or too many messages in the brain that cause your cortisol levels to increase, making you feel stressed. CBD helps to regulate those hormones and how your brain responds to stress and controls your cortisol levels.
- Inflammation – when a part of your body is swollen and hot and painful, it is inflamed. Inflammation is conditions like arthritis, bacterial infections, and autoimmune disorders. CBD reduces inflammation by suppressing inflammatory response and stimulating healthy cell production and helps to manage our pain perception.What else can CBD help?
- Seizures are caused by erratic electrical activity in the brain, causing the body to shake violently. CBD has proven to greatly reduce seizures in patients suffering from Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gaustat Syndrome, two very severe forms of epilepsy. CBD reduces seizures by slowing down certain nerve activity and making the brain less reactive to the signals causing the brain to overload.