The fact that some people have been talking about how hemp-derived CBD has been good for them for years – without the medical science to back up their claims, and with the increasing amount of scientific research that is being carried out about its effects on the human body, the world of cannabis and its effects on us is gradually becoming demystified.
So, what’s the big deal? What exactly are the scientists looking at and why?
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is found in our bodies similar to others systems – such as the respiratory system, the reproductive system or the digestive system, for example.
It was only discovered by scientists in the 1990’s in the human body and they have been uncovering the secrets of this biological system ever since.
It wasn’t until 1988 when the first cannabinoid receptor was discovered in a rat’s brain, and 1993 when the second was identified. In 1995, scientists discovered that the these receptors were also present in the human body.
Despite the fact that it has only been discovered relatively recently, the endocannabinoid system is fundamental to the working of the human body. In fact, it has been found to be present in all vertebrate animals as well as some invertebrates.
What does the ECS do?
It is responsible for keeping the body in a state of homeostasis – the state which gives balance to your body.
In other words, it gives your body internal stability (the word homeostasis is actually derived from the Greek word for ‘steady’), regulating factors such as the metabolism, mood, appetite, sleep, heart function, immune system, body temperature and digestion.
The ECS seems to be essential in most if not all physiological systems. It is essential to life and it affects on how we relax, eat, sleep, forget and protect.
With a healthy endocannabinoid system, you will help to maintain your body in good order and allow the other systems to function effectively.
How does it work?
The endocannabinoid system consists of a number of cannabinoid receptors which are spread on cells around the body. There are two main kinds of cannabinoid receptors – called Cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid 2 (CB2) and these are concentrated in different areas:
- CB1 receptors are found mainly in the brain and the central nervous system, and are therefore mainly responsible for motor functions, stress response, pain perception and memory.
- CB2 receptors are found mainly in the organs around the body, and are therefore mainly responsible for the cardiovascular, immune and muscular systems.
The cannabinoid receptors obtain cannabinoids which are either produced in our bodies or consumed in some other way. There are three kinds of cannabinoids:
- Endocannabinoids (endogenous cannabinoids) – made naturally by our body, of which the most notable are anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). They are mainly found in the brain, central nervous system, immune system, organs, glands and connective tissues.
- Synthetic cannabinoids – man-made cannabinoids in a lab
- Phytocannabinoids – derived from a natural cannabis plant
The endocannabinoid system uses the metabolic enzymes FAAH and MAGL to speed up these chemical reactions and then to break the cannabinoids after they have been used.
What can CBD do for the ECS?
Cannabis plants produce a countless sum of compounds but the most famous belong to a class called cannabinoids.
There are several cannabinoids but the two that are most well-known among consumers are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).
The endocannabinoid system does not just react to the endocannabinoids produced in the body, but also respond to external cannabinoids like the phytocannabinoid CBD that is produced in our facilities. Introducing CBD to the body can help reduce the symptoms of a wide range of illnesses including brain disorder, multiple sclerosis, chronic inflammation, and other medical conditions.
There are many ailments and illnesses which scientists are studying to discover whether hemp-derived CBD can help to treat, from psychological conditions such as stress and anxiety, to physical problems such as those caused by inflammation.
Despite CBD is not being called a psychoactive compound, CBD clearly impacts our psyche, often in beneficial ways. It does not, however, impair mental or physical function in most consumers, even very high doses. So we can consider CBD as psychoactive, but as a non-impairing or non-intoxicating substance.
By adding CBD to your diet you may get the benefits of a healthy endocannabinoid system. When the receptor bonds with the cannabinoid, it can change the cannabinoid signalling and help your body to maintain the stability that is needed for life and to enhance well-being.
One doesn’t need to treat a serious medical condition in order to benefit from the use of CBD
As with anything else in our bodies, if there is an imbalance, such as a cannabinoid deficiency, the addition of CBD into the diet can be useful to get the balance back and improve your well-being.
We don’t know everything, yet
Although we already have a good amount of knowledge of the endocannabinoid system, there is still a lot more to discover, especially regarding the potentials of the cannabinoids that hemp can offer. It might be that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the medicinal potential of a plant which has been shunned by so many for so long.