When you start digging into the potential therapeutic effects of CBD in the body, you begin to see a lot of references to the Endocannabinoid System – otherwise known as ECS. But, if you’re new to the world of cannabinoids, you may be wondering – what’s to know? Isn’t the ECS the system in the […]
When you start digging into the potential therapeutic effects of CBD in the body, you begin to see a lot of references to the Endocannabinoid System – otherwise known as ECS. But, if you’re new to the world of cannabinoids, you may be wondering – what’s to know? Isn’t the ECS the system in the body that ‘accepts’ CBD? In short, yes! But there’s so much more to learn that can help you understand how CBD works to get our bodies functioning at optimal levels. By having a greater understanding of the ECS, you’ll have a better grasp on what gives cannabinoids their superpower status. Let’s dig in.
After decades of research, scientists tell us that the ECS has a critical role – it’s responsible for maintaining the balanced regulation of every single system in the body! What are some of the primary processes the endocannabinoid system is responsible for? Here’s a short list: (Healthline)
- Immune function
- Reproductive function
Keeping us in biological harmony
To understand the ECS, take a minute and think back to 7th-grade biology and the concept of homeostasis. Homeostasis is biological harmony in response to changes in the environment. (UCLA). During homeostasis, each part of the body is working together seamlessly – elements in the blood, multiple organ systems, tissues, cells, etc. – so the body performs at its best.
But how does our body stay in balance as conditions constantly change? It’s challenging, but the fantastic endocannabinoid system does a lot of the heavy lifting. The system has three primary components and is continuously ‘on the hunt’ for balance:
- Endocannabinoids(eCBs) – Endocannabinoids are the natural cannabis-like molecules produced by our bodies within the ECS that bring balance to many tissues of the body by working with receptors. As highlighted, endocannabinoids help support many critical functions – the immune system, cardiovascular health, digestion, mental health, and more. Their counterparts, known as phytocannabinoids, are found in certain plants including in the buds of leaves of the hemp plant.
- Nervous system – There are two central endocannabinoid receptors found in the nervous system – CB1 and CB2, which we’ll go into more detail later. After years of studying the endocannabinoid system and these receptors or ‘landing sites,’ scientists believe that CB1 and CB2 sites are ‘pre-wired’ to accept certain cannabinoids.
- Enzymes – Specific enzymes can break down these compounds to make sure our body functions at the optimal level.
How do ECS and cannabinoids work together?
To understand the endocannabinoid system, it helps to think of a typical function where the ECS’ kicks in’ to help restore balance. So what happens if the body detects an increase in body temperature or a drop in blood sugar? In a nutshell, naturally-made endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids bind to receptors in order to signal that the ECS needs to take action. Then, the body activates the ECS to ‘autocorrect’ these functions.
Real-life example – low blood sugar
To ‘autocorrect’ blood sugar levels for example, CB1 and CB2 receptors ‘sit on cells’ surfaces, waiting for specific neurotransmitters to bind to them. In this scenario, the ECS may alert cells in the pancreas to release glucagon, causing the liver to turn stored glycogen back into glucose to raise blood sugar levels. After the body is back to ‘normal,’ enzymes then break down these extra compounds.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the primary functions of CB1 and CB2 that each have a downstream effect on regulating our bodies’ systems.
- CB1 – CB1 receptors are primarily known for regulating excessive signaling by the neurotransmitters in the brain, which can lead to extreme or the inadequate release of messages, such as serotonin or dopamine. Depending on what region of the brain they are located, CB1 receptors are moderators of our memory, mood, motor function, and pain response.
- CB2 – CB2 receptors are most often associated with the cells of our immune system. These receptors also help control inflammation and our response to pathogens.
Why do we need to add cannabinoids for optimal efficiency?
Does that mean our bodies can always bring our systems back to homeostasis? Not exactly. Everyday life, including stress, diet and exercise, genetic makeup, and environment can all influence the efficiency of our ECS. For these reasons, the endocannabinoid system needs help in maintaining this balance and regulating neurotransmitter function.
Rebalancing our bodies – More than meets the eye
Fortunately, there’s mounting evidence that CBD compounds can restore and rebalance the endocannabinoid system. The right CBD compounds can serve as a buffer – limiting the overproduction of one neurotransmitter or bringing up the function of another when needed. One of the most important functions of the CB1 receptor is the reduction of excessive or inadequate signaling of messengers in the brain. Many have enjoyed positive results using CBD to help with this constant rebalancing act – for everything from managing stress and mood, to reducing pain, fighting runaway inflammation, and much more.
In addition to regulating receptors, biologists believe CBD also works in the body by stopping the enzymes that would otherwise be triggered to break down ‘excess’ endocannabinoids after establishing balance within a particular system.
How does CBD stop the degradation of endocannabinoids?
For example, if an individual experiences high levels of anxiety, CBD can slow down enzymes from breaking down and recycling endocannabinoids. In the case of anxiousness, many individuals report that CBD leads to a prolonged ‘calming effect’ that lasts well beyond returning the body to ‘normal’ system levels.
Just the beginning
While in-depth research continues, many scientists have seen positive results in using natural CBD compounds to mimic our production of endocannabinoids. It looks like CBD helps in multiple ways – it makes sure our messengers are less likely to under or over-activate, bringing serotonin and dopamine levels back into balance. CBD also works by boosting our natural levels of endocannabinoids and by limiting the enzyme degradation process. At CBD Health Collection, we offer a variety of premium CBD products customized to work within your ECS – the body’s ultimate regulatory system – to bring natural harmony and improve health. If you have questions or want to learn more about jump starting and maintaining your endocannabinoid system’s overall functioning, get in touch!