The Endocannabinoid System
How does CBD and THC interact with our bodies and why does it seem to be such a smooth interaction? Well there's an easy, albeit quite scientific, answer to that question, our bodies produce endocannabinoids which are similar to the cannabinoids (Phytocannabinoids) present in the cannabis plant. Shocking right?
In the early 1990's, while researching THC (the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis) the first cannabinoid (CB) receptor in the human body was found. It was then quickly discovered that these receptors comprise a series of homeostatic regulatory mechanisms within the body, which was then named the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS consists of three principal elements: endocannabinoid receptors (CB receptors); specialized molecules called endocannabinoids that interact with those receptors; and enzymes that either synthesize or metabolize the endocannabinoids. And it plays a critical role in maintaining the homeostasis of the human body.
Homeostasis refers to the maintenance of stability, or optimal conditions, within the body to promote proper functioning. For example, the body maintains homeostasis for temperature, blood sugar, and appetite. Experts believe that if the body falls out of the normal range, the ECS helps the body to return to the optimal range and maintain homeostasis.
Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring, lipid-based neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the body that send signals between nerve cells. So what happens when either through diet, lifestyle or any number of external forces our bodies are not producing enough cannabinoids? Well, this where phytocannabinoids like CBD come in.
Research reveals that when CBD bonds with the receptors, it alters and/or improves the capabilities of that receptor, thereby improving the receptors functionality.
Additionally, if the body suffers from cannabinoid deficiency, administering CBD can help equalize the deficiency.
Stress and Anxiety often occurs as a result of your brain's response to a situation you perceive as risky, dangerous, or unwanted. CBD combats stress by regulating how your brain responds to stress signals and maintaining your cortisol levels. (check out my blog post about stress and what it does to our bodies)
Inflammation can range in severity and is often linked to conditions like arthritis, bacterial infections, and autoimmune disorders. CBD combats inflammation by suppressing inflammatory response and pathways, stimulating the production of regulatory cells, and managing our pain perception.
Research into the endocannabinoid system is ongoing and new receptors are being discovered. I find this so fascinating and it makes me wonder what other incredible and powerful plant medicines are yet to be (re) discovered! Only time will tell....