Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel. Maybe it's uncertainty, doubt, or lack of knowledge about how body systems function. You though, are here now, finding out more. Perhaps finding out for the first time about a body system that, when it’s working at its best, can have a profoundly positive effect on your health and general feeling of wellness. Introducing: The Endocannabinoid system.
The classical notion that mind and body are separate is dwindling as the rising understanding of our interconnection to each other and our environment is becoming more generally accepted, perhaps thanks to modern progress in areas as diverse as neuroscience, psychology, and environmentalism. And, just as we are all an interconnected part of the wider world, so all the systems in our body are interconnected and have a knock-on effect on one another. You are a living, breathing entity whose every movement, emotional reaction, whose every moment - matters. The question is how do you want to feel and deal with the challenges of daily living? And, this is where the beauty of the Endocannabinoid system presents itself.
So, what is the Endocannabinoid system and how does it work?
The Endocannabinoid system (ECS) was first officially recognized in the late 1980’s. Researchers discovered that endocannabinoids were naturally occurring chemicals in the human body and naturally processed by it. They were very much akin to cannabinoids, natural chemicals found in varieties of the cannabis and hemp plant family. The realization that the latter may help supplement or bolster the former has become the basis of today’s scientific research into cannabis’ uses as a medicine and the supplementary use of cannabinoids as a boost to health and wellness.
The body system is made up of endocannabinoids, enzymes and cannabinoid receptors. The two most well-known of which are called the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The first is found in the brain, the second in other cells around the body. When endocannabinoids bind with these receptors, a natural chemical reaction is produced. Endocannabinoids could be considered a key, the receptors locks, and together they can unlock downstream bodily responses.
When and why do we make endocannabinoids?
Like hormones and other naturally occurring chemicals in our bodies, endocannabinoids are produced, when needed, in response to environmental triggers. Unlike some hormones the endocannabinoids are broken down again once they have done their work. The ECS’s unlocking of bodily responses is thought to be an important factor in the body’s ability to balance its systems: Homeostasis. If there is more stress on us than normal, we are fatigued or suffering from an ailment that affects our immune system, for instance, there may be a visible increase in endocannabinoid production to help counter it.
THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the ‘high’ effect of cannabis, and CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid recognized for its calming and potentially pain relieving properties, are the two most famous cannabinoids found in the cannabis and hemp plants. However, there are many, many more, including terpenes and flavonoids, that are also non-psychoactive, easily absorbed by the body and it is now thought are received by cannabinoid receptors in the body in very much the same way as our naturally occurring endocannabinoids are.
And, what do (endo)cannabinoids do?
As medical cannabis has become legal and supplements of non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD have become popular around the world, today’s scientific research into the ECS has expanded rapidly. Investigations are now ongoing into the positive effects that endocannabinoids and their plant-based siblings may have in helping regulate things like sleep, mood, memory and appetite. It is thought that they may also play a part in regulating body temperature, hormone release and pain management.
Studies have found, for instance, that endocannabinoids may help balance your hormonal response to stress by reducing the effects of the stress-induced hormone, cortisol, and that the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD seems to work in the same way. Similar positive effects have been noted as reducing tiredness or increasing appetite. Pleasurable activities like singing and dancing have been found to stimulate the production of endocannabinoids too.
So, you could think of the ECS as Nature’s way of oiling the cellular wheels of the body, across various systems, and helping those cells and the systems they are part of to work optimally. Perhaps then, if you feel that your gears are getting a little rusty, a natural CBD boost to your ECS may be just what you want to get running smoothly again.