Every biological process in our body needs a specific balance of factors to function properly. When achieved, this balance is known as homeostasis. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a significant role in our well being and overall health by helping to maintain homeostasis in humans and every other mammal on Earth.
Pain, sleep, anxiety, and appetite are just a few of the functions for which the endocannabinoid system is responsible. But, what exactly is the endocannabinoid system?
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex biological network consisting of three main components: “messenger” molecules known as endocannabinoids, the receptors these molecules bind to, and the enzymes that catalyze the degradation of endocannabinoids.
Cannabinoid Receptors: These receptors are found throughout our body and are responsible for activating cell functions that regulate pain, sleep, and appetite among other things.
Endocannabinoids: Cannabinoids are molecules that interact with cannabinoid receptors acting as the “key” that turns them on. When they are produced naturally by the body, these molecules are called endocannabinoids (“endo” means within, as in, within the body). However, cannabinoids are also found naturally in other organisms like the cannabis plant and are known as phytocannabinoids. Together, cannabinoids and receptors act as messengers that tell cells what to do in response to any changes happening in the body.
ECS Enzymes: The function of these enzymes is simple-- they destroy cannabinoids after they interact with receptors, so they are not stored in the body.
How CBD Interacts with the ECS
Cannabis contains dozens of cannabinoids including CBD which is responsible for the cannabis plant’s medicinal qualities. CBD products have proven anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that deliver a wide array of benefits when it interacts with our endocannabinoid system.
The ECS consists of two main receptors called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are expressed chiefly in our nervous system and brain while CB2 receptors are found mostly throughout our immune system. Phytocannabinoids, like CBD, interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in our systems stimulating improved cell response to bring balance to the endocannabinoid system.
By interacting with receptors in the brain, CBD can also help boost levels of anandamide, the chemical responsible for promoting feelings of happiness and calmness. Anandamide is broken down by enzyme FAAH, but CBD inhibits this enzyme interrupting its functions and allowing anandamide to stay active for more extended periods in our bodies.
Research has also found that CBD activates the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor. Serotonin receptors are present in the brain and have a significant influence on our levels and anxiety which is why they are often the target of antidepressant medications. Through its interaction with serotonin receptors, CBD may help reduce levels of anxiety and help with symptoms related to disorders like depression and insomnia.
CBD Hemp Oil Benefits
Thanks to its various interactions within our endocannabinoid system, a daily dose of CBD may provide relief for a number of conditions and ailments including:
- Chronic Pain
- Sleep Disorders
- Loss of Appetite
- Substance Abuse
Users have also reported CBD products to be effective treatments for symptoms associated with conditions such as Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and heart disease. To learn more about CBD hemp oil and what it can do for you, Read our blog on "9 Amazing Benefits of Hemp Oil".