May 20, 2022 |

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

There is a lot of chatter about the cannabis plant and its great therapeutic value. Current scientific research has suggested that it may be useful for addressing a number of medical conditions to promote better overall health and wellness. 

Cannabis contains a number of chemical compounds known to have healing properties that can potentially help with a range of ailments from chronic pain to anxiety. This has led an increasing amount of people to turn to cannabis and its constituents and of them all, cannabidiol also known as CBD, seems to be the most popular and sought after. Due to its lack of psychoactivity unlike THC, CBD has proven to be a healthier alternative to conventional medicines, and for good reason. 

Cannabis has a special relationship with our body’s natural endocannabinoid system (ECS). However, one question remains, what exactly is cannabis and how does it play a role in helping maintain proper bodily function? In this article, we will explore and answer!

What is CBD?

As we mentioned above, CBD is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant, which scientists call “cannabinoids”. While THC is mainly found in marijuana plants, CBD is mainly found in hemp plants and is non-psychoactive. In order to get pure CBD, it must first undergo a process of extraction — the most common method is critical CO2. 

Once extracted, CBD can be used to make a number of products including topicals, sublingual oils, smokeable’s, edibles, and many more — think drinks, pain patches, and even shampoos and dog treats. The plant can also be heated and consumed directly through smokeable’s or vaping to bypass the extraction process, for a more natural approach.

Cannabis has long been demonized which has greatly halted scientific research, however, with more legalization and public acceptance, the plant was federally legalized to be cultivated thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill — so long as a CBD product contains .03% THC, it may be sold and used nationwide. Now that we know a little about the well-known and well-studied CBD, what exactly is the endocannabinoid system and how is it affected when cannabis is introduced into our system?

Endocannabinoid System 101

Every living vertebrae has an active endocannabinoid system — “endo” meaning from within. The extraordinary system is comprised of thousands, if not millions of cannabinoid receptors (CB receptors) as well as endocannabinoids. They are found all through the body (including the gastrointestinal tract, vital organs etc., but mainly found in the immune system and nervous system — the two most well-studied are CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. 

The Endocannabinoid system is tasked with regulating a number of functions in the mind and body, which includes appetite, mood, sleep, temperature, and many others. Its main goal is to do one thing and one thing only, ensure that the body is kept in perfect balance, also known as homeostasis.

When the body’s internal environment is out of whack, it can disrupt the work of these important bodily functions. And, once this occurs, it can lead to a number of ailments and diseases. However, when cannabinoids and CB receptors interact with one another, balance is created in the body, the ECS, its cannabinoid receptors, and naturally-occurring cannabinoids can help the body achieve internal balance. 

So, How Does the Endocannabinoid System Work?

As mentioned, endocannabinoids and CB receptors interact with one another to create homeostasis. Whether it’s pain, anxiety, or inflammation, these endocannabinoids can influence CB receptors to cause cells to react a specific way — this specific reaction will depend on the ailment and type of cell that is activated through particular receptors. What does this all mean?

It means that the ECS can stimulate a number of responses in each cell depending on the issue, simultaneously. So far, research has found the ECS to influence the following bodily processes:

  • Inflammation
  • Digestion
  • Pain
  • Mood
  • Sleep
  • Memory
  • Bone growth
  • Nerve function
  • Cardiovascular system function
  • Skin function
  • Anxiety
  • Immune system function
  • Learning

It is all of these functions that play a major role in the optimal maintenance of the ECS and overall wellness of the body.

Cannabis and the Endocannabinoid System

Though the body is resilient in its own, there are times when we need a little push. The endocannabinoid system does not always function properly to maintain homeostasis, which is a reason why different ailments can occur. 

Sometimes, the body’s naturally-occurring cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) are not able to help the body achieve balance, and therefore, the body is unable to heal itself on its own. Current research suggests that there is such a condition known as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD), which happens when the body has low levels of endocannabinoids. This can, in turn, create a litany of serious health issues in the body, if left neglected. A few include: 

  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • Insomnia 
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Mood regulation issues
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Migraines 
  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammation
  • Stress
  • Mental health disorders

If this deficiency does exist, perhaps boosting the amount of endocannabinoids or introducing external cannabinoids such as THC or CBD might be an effective alternative. Instead of using pharmaceuticals, these days more and more people are turning to more healthier and natural alternatives to remedy their health issues. 

Cannabis has been proven to relieve many issues that traditional medicines seem to only suppress. As we said above, while cannabis contains a number of different chemical compounds, cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are the most abundant. CBD, more specifically, seems to interact with the endocannabinoid system, in a non-psychoactive and therapeutic way.

THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid that is most known for its intoxicating effects. When consumed, the chemical compound binds to the receptors in the body to take effect — more specifically, THC activates CB1 recents in the brain to cause a “high” feeling. Some research suggests it may be able to provide anxiety and stress freely and well as a reduction in inflammation. 

However, in some cases, especially for newbies, it may cause paranoia and increase anxiety – especially if over consumed. There hasn’t been a single case of THC overdose reported, but for those looking to avoid the psychoactivity, CBD too, binds to CB receptors in the body to help create internal balance or homeostasis

CBD doesn’t directly bind to CB receptors. Instead, it indirectly binds to CB1 receptors and influences their activity, which will not cause mind-altering effects that come with THC consumption. Yet, this unique interaction has been used help to influence relief to a variety (mild to severe) of ailments such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety 
  • Inflammation
  • Digestion
  • Pain 
  • Depression 
  • Arthritis
  • PTSD
  • Epilepsy 
  • Brain health
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Diabetes
  • Blood Pressure
  • Obesity
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Addiction 
  • Skin Issues

And so many more!

The More You Know, The More You Grow

Well, there you have it. The endocannabinoid system is an extremely vital system in the body that plays an important role in our overall health. Though we are still in the infancy stages of cannabis research, we are hopeful that there will be even more findings discovered on the effects of cannabis and its chemical compounds in the body. 

If you’re interested in giving CBD a try, please check out our online menu of pure hemp flower pre-rolls and find what will work best for you!