The human body is an extraordinarily complex system, and to this day still baffles some of the most experienced scientists. Although experts are still researching to fully understand what the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is, and it has been under scrutiny since it was first discovered in the early 90s, it is widely accepted that it is a system in the human body that signals cells to perform certain tasks to keep your internal body in balance. This condition is known as ‘homeostasis’ and it controls the internal, physical, and chemical conditions of an organism that are deemed best for its survival.
After many years of research, it is believed that the ECS has an influence in controlling:
- Chronic Pain
- Formation of Muscle
- Liver Function
- Cardiovascular System
- Motor Control
- Reproductive System
- Bone Growth
- Nerve Function
How Does It Work?
There are three main components to the ECS; endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes.
Endocannabinoids (ECBs) are molecules that are produced naturally in the human body and help to keep your internal systems in balance. They bind to receptors in your body.
Receptors are found in many places inside the human body and endocannabinoids attach to them, creating a signal to the brain that there is an imbalance and the ECS must kick into action. There are two receptors to focus on which are:
CB1 Receptors: Found in the central nervous system
CB2 Receptors: Found in immune cells and other areas of your peripheral nervous system.
Enzymes are present to ‘break down’ the endocannabinoids when their task is complete.
CBD and How It Works with the Endocannabinoid System
CBD is a major cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant and known as a phytocannibinoid (produced by the Hemp plant), but unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) it does not have the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis. It is not thought to attach itself to the CB1 and CB2 receptors like THC does, hence you do not get the ‘High’ feeling. Instead, it is thought to prevent your naturally occurring endocannabinoids from breaking down as quickly, allowing them to be present for longer and increasing their effect on your body. Some scientists believe they may bind to a receptor that has not yet been discovered.
CBD has been used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, as well as epilepsy, strokes, and heart conditions. There is an abundance of research to back up these claims.
It is also thought that increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids may help boost your body’s ability to produce ECBs.
CBD has an affect on other systems in the body and it’s believed that this is why CBD has a broad spectrum of beneficial effects.
So, we know that CBD is a weak antagonist of CB1 receptors, and this is believed to be associated with pain relief. Also, CBD is a weak inverse antagonist of the CB2 receptor, and this is believed to be responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects.
We all know how frustrating it can be to be suffering from an ailment that seems to have no underlying cause. When this happens stress levels can increase, and the situation gets worse. It is thought that a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system could be responsible for things such as migraine, IBS and other symptoms such as Fibromyalgia. These are often resistant to traditional treatment but patients suffering from these conditions have reported alleviated symptoms after using CBD.
It is widely accepted that the Endocannabinoid System needs more research, and now that consumer demand is rising for CBD products, perhaps the pressure will be increased for experts to look more into the subject. What we do know and so do the experts, is that CBD and the Endocannabinoid System could be the key to unlocking more treatments for patients.