What is the Endocannabinoid System?
To understand the benefits of CBD, you first need to understand the endocannabinoid system. Discovered by scientists in the 90s, the endocannabinoid system is involved in the regulation of a variety of physiological and cognitive processes.
Since its discovery, the endocannabinoid system has been shown to have a vast number of therapeutic benefits on the human body. Understanding how the endocannabinoid system generates these therapeutic benefits can get a little complicated, so let’s start with the basics.
What is the endocannabinoid system?
The endocannabinoid system is a network of cellular receptors distributed throughout the body. This network is made up of two primary cell receptors, CB1 and CB2, which help us maintain homeostasis or “balance”.
So there are a few things that will need further explanation before we go on. Let’s start with CB1 and CB2 receptors, then we’ll take a look at homeostasis.
What are CB1 and CB2 receptors?
Cannabinoid receptor 1 and cannabinoid receptor 2 are a series of cells found throughout the body. These receptors respond to various cannabinoids and are responsible for the therapeutic benefits experienced when taking CBD.
Let’s take a look at them individually.
CB1 receptors are found throughout the body but are primarily located on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord and the central nervous system. These particular receptors are concentrated in areas found to play a role in pain sensation, sleep, mood and emotional processing.
CB2 receptors are a little different. Typically concentrated in areas associated with the immune system, you will find CB2 receptors located in organs like the stomach, pancreas and even in bones. These receptors are thought to stimulate the body’s response to inflammation, reduce pain and repair tissue damage.
The core locations of CB1 and CB2 receptors can be found in the image below:
What is homeostasis?
Our body is in a constant state of change. Every movement, every breath, every coffee you drink uses energy that is created and consumed by your internal systems. Homeostasis is the maintenance of this constant internal environment. From your body temperature to your blood sugar levels and even your body’s water level content, all of this is controlled using feedback mechanisms to maintain homeostasis.
For you to function and thrive your body must maintain a stable internal environment. Imbalances in your system can lead to health problems, ranging from minor symptoms like sore muscles to serious diseases.
And that’s where the endocannabinoid system comes in...
How does the endocannabinoid maintain homeostasis?
So, as we learned, the endocannabinoid system is a network of cellular receptors, primarily CB1 and CB2, distributed throughout the body.
Responsible for an array of natural processes, such as pain management and energy regulation, the endocannabinoid system is part of an overall system that works to maintain homeostasis.
Now, let’s say there’s an imbalance in the system - something like inflammation of the body after a strenuous workout. When the imbalance is detected, the body naturally synthesises cannabinoids to interact with the cannabinoid receptors, which in turn stimulate a chemical response that works to return the physiological process to homeostasis.
If that sounds confusing, think of the endocannabinoid system as fire sprinklers in a building. If the fire alarm (homeostasis) detects a fire, water (cannabinoids) is sent to the sprinklers (CB1 and CB2 receptors), and the sprinklers work to put out the fire (return to homeostasis).
The release of cannabinoids into your system is completely natural. It happens all the time. Maybe even right now? However, scientists now believe that the body fails to synthesise enough cannabinoids to activate the endocannabinoid system effectively.
And that’s where CBD oil comes in...
How does CBD oil impact the endocannabinoid system?
The body naturally synthesises cannabinoids on demand. That’s a fact. Unfortunately, you get old. That’s also a fact. As you get older, you may notice that your body doesn’t quite perform at the same optimal level. The natural production of cannabinoids is no different. As you age, your body can’t quite produce the same levels of cannabinoids.
As it turns out, humans aren’t the only ones to naturally produce cannabinoids. The hemp plant can also produce cannabinoids. When extracted from the plant and broken down into CBD oil, the oil can be dropped under your tongue and used as a supplement to the endocannabinoid system.
Once in the body, the cannabinoids help coordinate and regulate how we think and feel by binding with the endocannabinoid system's CB1 and CB2 receptors.
In other words, CBD oil is like topping up the oil in your car. Your car already had oil. It still works with the old oil. But fresh new oil is far better for its overall performance.
What are the benefits of activating the endocannabinoid system?
As you now know, the human body's endocannabinoid system consists of tiny receptors that play a key role in regulating mood, pain and everyday performance. CBD oil activates these tiny receptors to stimulate all kinds of therapeutic changes to your body. A few of these benefits include:
The benefits of activating the CB1 receptor may include:
- Reduces inflammation
- Relieves depression
- Decreases intestinal permeability
- Lowers blood pressure
- Relieves anxiety
- Reduces fear and paranoia
Improve nerve cell growth
The benefits of activating the CB2 receptor may include:
CBD receptors are located in regions of your body linked to a range of human diseases. From cardiovascular to psychiatric and even autoimmune, the CB2 receptors play a function in the health of all your major organs.
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