What is an Endocannabinoid System?
(If it has a spine, it has an ECS)
Let's look at the word "endocannabinoid." "Cannabinoid" comes from "cannabis," and "endo" is short for "endogenous," which means that it is produced naturally inside of your body. So "endocannabinoid" simply means cannabis-like substances that naturally occur inside us.
The ECS itself is made up of three parts:
- Receptors in the nervous system and around your body that endocannabinoids and cannabinoids bond with
- Enzymes that help break down endocannabinoids and cannabinoids
Not only is the ECS a natural part of our bodies, it's a crucial one. You may have heard a lot of claims about the medicinal properties of marijuana in general or of the cannabinoids THC and CBD. With so many seemingly unrelated effects, you might wonder whether it's just a lot of hype from people who want the drug legalized; however, medical science backs up many of these claims, and the reason for the far-reaching effects have to do with the size and scope of the endocannabinoid system itself.
To understand the ECS, it first helps to understand what homeostasis is.
Basically, homeostasis is your body's efforts to keep everything in the right zone. It tries to keep your internal environment stable and optimal no matter what's going on in the environment around you. Think of all the gauges in the dashboard of a car or airplane. Those all tell the operator whether things are—or aren't—operating in the proper zone.
Just like the electronics in a car or plane, your body works continuously to monitor important levels and functions in your body. Is your temperature too high, too low, or just right? Are your hormone levels what they should be? Is your heart beating too fast? Do you need fuel or rest? Is too much of something building up in your bloodstream or inside of your cells?
When something is operating outside of the right range, your body activates the ECS to help correct it. So when you're really hot and begin to sweat, thank your ECS for working to cool you down. Stomach growling? That's your ECS helping remind you to eat because you need fuel.
The ECS does this via cannabinoid receptors found in select tissues. We have (at least) two types of cannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 which is in the central nervous system (brain and nerves of the spinal cord)
- CB2 which is in the peripheral nervous system (nerves in your extremities), the digestive system, and specialized cells in the immune system
Cannabinoid receptors are believed to be among the most plentiful in our central nervous system, and some researchers hypothesize that we could have a third, undiscovered one, as well.
Through those receptors, the ECS helps regulate a lot of important functions, such as:
- Immune function
- Inflammation, including neuroinflammation
- Motor control
- Temperature regulation
As medical science has learned more about the ECS, it's also discovered several conditions that appear to be related to dysregulation of the system, which is called clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD). CECD isn't a disease itself but is an umbrella term encompassing conditions with this common feature.
Conditions for which there is evidence that CECD may play a role include:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
For example, fibromyalgia involves the central and peripheral nervous systems, the immune system, the endocrine (hormonal) system, and even the digestive system. It's also been linked to premature perimenopause, problems with conception, and early hysterectomy. Temperature sensitivity and poor memory are common symptoms.
That seems like a grab-bag of unrelated problems until you think about homeostasis and the ECS.
We're still early in the process of figuring out how to correct endocannabinoid deficiency, but the increasing availability of medical marijuana and CBD products has been largely embraced by the patient community and we're likely to see a lot more research in that area.
How Does CBD Affect the ECS?
The Endocannabinoids System's purpose is to respond to endogenous cannabinoids produced within the human body.
During their research, scientists have learned that the system will also recognize and respond to cannabinoids from external sources, including the Phyto cannabinoid, Cannabidiol (CBD).
According to the National Institute of Health, manipulating the endocannabinoid system by introducing external cannabinoids like CBD could be useful in treating a variety of medical ailments, including:
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Parkinsons Disease
- Broken Bones
- Mad Cow Disease
- Bacterial Infections
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Substance Abuse/Withdrawl
- Heart Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Keep in mind that this CBD benefits chart is not a full list, and we are only beginning to discover how cannabinoids can help and heal.
Benefits of activating the CB1 receptor include:
- Relieving depression
- Increasing myelin formation
- Lowering intestinal inflammation
- Decreasing intestinal permeability (Leaky Gut Syndrome)
- Lowering blood pressure
- Lowering anxiety
- Reducing fear and paranoia
- Increasing BDNF levels
- Increasing PPARy expressions
- Reducing GPRR5 signaling
- Lowering prolactin
Changes in CB2 receptor function is synonymous with virtually every type of human disease; be it cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurodegenerative, psychiatric, and autoimmune. It even plays a role in liver and kidney function, bone and skin health, cancer, and even pain-related illnesses.
Activating the CB2 receptor induces macrophages to destroy the beta-amyloid protein which is the main component of the plaque found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
CBD also works to inhibit Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH). This inhibition creates higher levels of endocannabinoids like anandamide. Anandamide, or the bliss molecule, plays a role in the neural generation of pleasure and motivation so it’s appropriate that its name is derived from “ananda,” a Sanskrit word meaning bliss. It also performs other important functions like regulating feeding behaviors and assisting with embryo implantation during the early stages of pregnancy.
Treatment for multiple ailments, including the side effects of chemotherapy
Because CBD inhibits the negative effects of THC, there is a possibility that administering the two together could be more beneficial than supplementing with THC alone.
Because CBD stimulates the endocannabinoid system, it helps to promote homeostasis in the body, reducing the sensation of pain and inhibiting inflammation.
Research into the possible uses of CBD and other cannabis compounds is a growing area of study, meaning the list of potential benefits is likely to grow.
Here at Snake River CBD, we strive to bring education to our community. We believe people need to know more about Cannabinoids and their potential benefits before they buy. We let customers know there is NO age, weight or height chart when it comes to the use of CBD. Some may need a small dose of CBD while others may need more. We try to get you out with a base starting dose and educate you on finding what dose works for you and your body.
If you ever have ANY questions give us a call at 208-220-4443, email at snakeriverCBD@gmail.com or stop in to see us.