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The Endocannabinoid System

The Endocannabinoid System

Because it was discovered so recently (in the early 1990s), you may not have even heard of your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS.)  The ECS is a neural modulator that interacts with the nerves and receptors in the nervous system to regulate pain, memory, mood, sleep, appetite, really everything your nervous system has a hand in… It is composed of cannabinoid receptors, transmitter endocannabinoids, and enzymes. Luckily, this system does not depend on an external source of cannabinoids to function! Let’s break all of this down and dig a little deeper.

The Breakdown

Let’s look at the word itself. Just a few years after the discovery of the system’s functions, this word was born! The first recorded use of the word endocannabinoid is from 1997. Researchers and scientists learned more and more about the influence of different drugs on the body systems, especially since cannabis products had been banned in in the United States in 1937, and then again in 1970 with the Controlled Substances Act. 

The Receptors

A major component of the endocannabinoid system is its receptors. These receptors bind to endocannabinoids, which are created by your body. They can also be bonded with external cannabinoids. The most notorious cannabinoid is THC, which is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana.

There are two main endocannabinoid receptors, and they are dispersed throughout your body. The first receptor is called the CB1 receptor. CB1 receptors are mostly neurological in nature. They are predominantly located along the spinal cord and in the brain but are also found along other organs. Because of their precise locations within the brain, cannabinoids affect memory, motor skills, and pain control. Stimulation to CB1 receptors produces feelings of calm and euphoria in many people.

The second major endocannabinoid receptor within your body is the CB2 receptor. These receptors primarily affect your immune system. They are located on white blood cells, as well as the tonsils and spleen. One major function involving CB2 receptors is in cytokine release. Cytokines modulate the immune response within the body.

The Transmitters

For CB1 receptors to function, they must first be stimulated. This can be done by exogenous means, such as with the use of marijuana. The cannabinoid THC will hijack the CB1 receptors in the brain and cause a deep sense of euphoria and calm in some people. In others, it can cause paranoia and anxiety. However, these receptors are meant to bind with natural, endogenous transmitters. The body’s transmitters that bind with CB1 receptors are called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids have a similar structure to the cannabis plant. However, endocannabinoids stimulate the CB1 receptors in a controlled and moderate way, which, unlike THC, will not lead to burnout of the receptors and subsequent addiction. Endocannabinoids are secreted within the body as needed, for the purpose of keeping certain bodily systems in check.

One common example of an endogenous CB1 reaction is the runner’s high. Scientists used to believe that post-workout euphoria was linked to opioid receptors within the brain. However, new evidence suggests that the runner’s high or sense of euphoria that accompanies a strenuous workout happens at CB1 endocannabinoid receptors.

Enzymes accompany all internal bodily processes. In the ECS, enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids. The main enzymes involved in the ECS are amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol acid lipase.

The primary role of the ECS is to help your body maintain homeostasis. It has been linked to a number of physiological processes, including the immune response, muscle growth, reproduction, skin and nerve cell vitality, cognitive functions such as learning and memory, appetite, metabolism, sleep, motor control, and more. When something happens to disrupt your normal internal environment, your endocannabinoid system steps in to get everything back where it belongs.

In addition to running or working out, there are other natural ways to power up your endocannabinoid system. This includes deep breathing, yoga, meditation, massage, and prayer. Virtually any mind-body practice will produce ECS stimulating endocannabinoids. That is why these activities are so effective at initiating euphoric and peaceful feelings.

How Hemp Works

Full spectrum hemp oil contains many cannabinoids, called phytocannabinoids, including cannabidiol. Hemp products have become extremely popular in the last decade. There is some evidence which suggests that cannabinoids can enhance better sleep, aid digestive function, lower stress, and relieve pain.*

Scientists aren’t exactly sure how, but phytocannabinoids appear to affect the ECS. There are two current theories about how phytocannabinoids influence this complex physiological system. Some scientists believe that they bind directly with the receptors, activating them in the same way that endocannabinoids do. Others think that the phytocannabinoids found in hemp oil keep the enzymes from breaking down naturally occurring endocannabinoids, allowing them to do their job more effectively.

Either way, studies suggest that hemp oil provides a safe and effective boost to the body’s endocannabinoid system. Hemp oil is either free of TCH or contains only trace amounts. This means that only health-promoting phytocannabinoids are left to influence the ECS.

We may not know yet exactly how phytocannabinoids work with the endocannabinoid system, but there is ample evidence that they influence and promote health in myriad and diverse ways. Try it out and discover what hemp oil can do for you!

*This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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