For a long time, two major components of the cannabis plant have been under research in an attempt to establish their utility to the human body. Extensive research on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system. As a result, these research studies led to the discovery of molecules and receptors in our human brains.
This discovery has largely impacted the overall understanding of the brain, health, and disease. While you may have seen the term ‘endocannabinoid system’ around, it is important to have a clear understanding of it and its role and impact in our bodies. This article will, therefore, demystify this term and its relation to CBD.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system is an internal system in the body that controls and maintains the physiological process in the human body. The system consists of endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid receptors which are responsible for detecting any changes in the body functions and responding accordingly. The system also relies on cannabinoid molecules to efficiently perform its functions. Among the functions that the system controls include homeostasis, skin and nerve function, mood and stress, liver function, inflammation, motor control, and sleep cycle among others.
What is the Endocannabinoid System Responsible for?
The discovery of brain receptors that respond to cannabis and hence the discovery of the endocannabinoids such as the anandamide was a big leap in understanding the role of the endocannabinoid system. It is an understatement to say that the endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining the balance of body systems. Through the cannabinoid and endocannabinoid molecules and receptors, the system detects changes in the body and hence the receptors attach themselves to the molecules to maintain this balance. Hence, it is responsible for liver functions, metabolism and appetite, mood and stress, learning and memory, pain and inflammation and the sleep cycle. Hence, this system acts as a bridge between the body and the mind. It helps us understand how the mind and the gut relate and how the two control each other.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol or (CBD) is one of the popular components of the cannabis plant. Unlike its counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), this component does not have psychoactive effects and hence does not cause the ‘high’ effect.
How Does CBD Affect the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system responds first to endogenous endocannabinoids such as Anandamide, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), n-arachidonoyl dopamine (NADA), and virodhamine (OAE). However, clinical research shows that the system is also receptive to exogenous endocannabinoids. As a result, consuming CBD consequently affects the endocannabinoid system and its consequent functions. However, before understanding how CBD affects this system, it is essential to understand the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. First, the receptors are of two types; Cannabinoid Receptor Type 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor Type 2 (CB2). These two receptors perform different roles in the system. Another noteworthy point is that endocannabinoid has less affinity towards induced cannabinoid molecules and hence responds faster to THC molecules when consumed together.
A unique feature of CBD is that it has no particular affinity for either of the two types of receptors. Its action is mostly indirect hence the reason why it does not cause the high that its counterpart, THC has. However, some research shows that it prevents the breakdown of endocannabinoids hence causing an increase in the levels of endocannabinoids in the body. Furthermore, an increase in the levels of cannabinoids results in the molecules staying longer in the system. This way, the endocannabinoid maintains homeostasis among other functions. Another impact of CBD in the system is that it is helpful to patients suffering from Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome, (CECD). This is a condition where the body cannot produce enough of its endogenous cannabinoids. Research shows that CECD is a significant contributor to conditions such as Fibromylagia, Parkinson’s, Schizophrenia, Chronic anxiety, depression, pain and inflammation among other conditions. As such an increase in the consumption of CBD can boost the cannabinoid levels in the system to help manage such conditions.
The Indirect Effects of CBD on the Endocannabinoid System
CBD works by projecting its therapeutic effects indirectly as it does not have an affinity towards the CB1 and CB2 receptors. As a result, it activates the TRPV1 receptors which are involved in body temperature regulation, pain and inflammation detection, and management. Furthermore, it helps in inhibiting the Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) which results in the production of high levels of endocannabinoids like the Anandamide. Anandamide is responsible for the regulation of pleasure and motivation. Other indirect effects of CBD on the system include regulation of feeding habits and are also responsible for proper embryo implantation. Lastly, CBD is effective in inhibiting the negative effects of THC. As such, the two can be consumed together to treat medical conditions while blocking the negative side of THC.
How Useful Can the Endocannabinoid System be for CBD Consumers?
The consumption of nutritional supplements containing CBD is increasing and hence knowledge on the endocannabinoid system is important. It is more important to understand how the consumption of CBD affects this system. Hence knowledge of the ECS system assists in understanding the benefits the body stands to gain from consumption. CBD consumers also have a clear perception of the relationship between the mind and the body and how CBD provides a bridge for the two.
Research on the effects and impact of THC on the body and mind led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This clinical discovery has since provided a wider understanding of the relationship between the physical body and the mind. The ECS system maintains and regulates several body functions like homeostasis, pain and inflammation, liver functions, and skin and nerve functions among others. Consuming CBD increases the endocannabinoid molecules levels hence making the system maintain its functions. As a result, consuming CBD supplements can help treat conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. Knowledge of the ECS is important to CBD consumers since it assists them to know how the supplements work to help their body systems.