How many of you know about your bodies Endocannabinoid System? What? Is that the same as the Endocrine System? No. Is it the same as the Nervous System? No. Endocannabinoid - Endo-Cannabinoids, that sounds like Cannabis- you know - marijuana!!
Ok let's start over. Our body has many systems that work automatically for us at maintaining our health. It continually monitors things like our blood supply at an appropriate level for our body to pump oxygenated blood throughout our system to keep our blood pressure stable, regulating fluids, glands and other systems in balance which is otherwise known as homeostasis. Our body has an innate ability to heal itself or try to maintain homeostasis.
One system that is not talked about that is very important is the Endocannabinoid System. The primary function of our Endocannabinoid System is to maintain an internal stable environment even if there are changes in our external environment. Endocannabinoids promote this stability on the most basic levels, regulating homeostasis through a multitude of mechanisms, including communicating between different cell types. When the Endocannabinoid System is deficient or depleted it is an environment set for disease. Maintaining proper ECS function is importing for us to have a healthy existence.
So how does the Endocannabinoid System effect our health? The ECS has cannabinoid CB1 receptor that is distributed in areas of the brain related to motor control, cognition, emotional responses, motivated behavior. Outside the brain it is an important modulator of the autonomic nervous system, the immune system and microcirculation. Endocannabinoids influence appetite, pain, inflammation, muscle control, sensation, stress response, mood, memory, just to name a few.
The Endocannabinoid System is made up of receptor sites (they receive the cannabinoids) on cells, enzymes, and endocannabinoids -cannabinoid like compounds that are naturally produced by the human body. The receptor sites include the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which respond differently to different cannabinoids.
Studies have proven that the Endocannabinoid System helps to regulate everything from mood, to immune system function, to sleep and more. It is made up of what are called receptor sites (they receive the cannabinoids). Cannabinoid are compounds that are naturally produced by the human body. CB1 and CB2 are the receptors and respond differently to many different cannabinoids.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) tends to prefer CB1 receptors, which are part of the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found mostly on cells in the immune system. THC reacts with these receptors and this is what causes the well-known “high” from marijuana.
Cannabinoid-CBD, tends to have an affinity for CB2 receptors and influence the CB1 receptor.
Studies have proven that the endocannabinoid system helps to regulate everything from mood, to immune system function, to sleep and more. It is made up of what are called receptor sites (they receive the cannabinoids). Cannabinoid are compounds that are naturally produced by the human body. CB1 and CB2 are the receptors and respond differently to many different cannabinoids. There are over 65+ cannabinoids in cannabis.
So what does that look like or how does it work? Let's think of a little league baseball team (I know, how is this related to the ECS? It is a visual to try to help you understand why Cannabis has different levels of THC and CBD and how it works in the body). THC is the ball that the pitcher throws from the mound to the catcher (receptors) and the catcher receives the THC. That is THC's known "job"-go to the catcher at home plate. Now, CBD's are the ball that the kids have in the outfield. They are told to throw it to the catcher at home plate. But if you have gone to a little league game, you know the strength or accuracy of kids in little league. The chance of them getting to the catcher is pretty low and if it gets there it is pretty lucky. So the coach tells the kids in the outfield to throw the ball to the shortstop or the pitcher and then they will throw the ball to the catcher. This improves the odds of the ball actually getting to the catcher. So, let me go back to the Cannabinoids- THC goes directly to the receptors and helps the body at a higher percentage. CBD on its own has a hard time getting to the receptors on its own. But if CBD has even a small amount of THC with it, then it goes directly to the receptors and does its job for the body because the CBD made it to the receptor. THC increases the odds of the CBD reaching the receptors.
THC is the cannabinoid that makes you "high" and the more percentage of THC the more you will be flying high. Some people like that feeling while others don't. But the government has marijuana listed as a Level I drug because it has a higher than .3% level of THC which they think is equal to all the Level I drugs that pharmaceutical drugs have manufactured (which is not true, but that is another article). Marijuana is not legal on the federal level and has been made legal on a state by state basis. Hemp on the other hand is legal in all 50 states because it does not have more than .3% THC which is enough to help the CBD's get to the ECS receptors to be used by the body. Because marijuana has been illegal it has limited publishing the research that has been done over the years.
Research has helped to better understand the Endocannabinoid System and its influence in our body and health. In addition, research continues to prove that the Endocannabinoid System assist to regulate the body’s immune and central nervous system.
As research continues to indicate that the Endocannabinoid System is such a large part of our immune system we also learn about the potential for compounds from hemp and marijuana (cannabis), like THC, CBD, and more that can be used therapeutically.
For some people, the body does not generate enough endocannabinoids which can result in "Endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome." There is also speculation that the deficiency could be the root cause of many autoimmune disorders, including migraines, fibromyalgia, IBS and more. It is no coincidence that many diseases did not exist until after the 1930's when hemp and marijuana were moved to a Level I Class drug and made illegal in the USA and other countries. What this did was first, take financial gains away from the hemp industry of paper, clothing, building materials and other products made by hemp. But the larger impact was on the health of humans. Because hemp and marijuana were made illegal to grow or use, the body started the downward spiral of ill health creating diseases that in the past the body was able to naturally fight off.
The need for cannabinoids as natural immune boosters continues to build a case for the legalization of hemp and marijuana. Currently Hemp is legal in all 50 states as long as it has no more than .3% THC with the CBD's. It was only a year ago that farmers have been permitted to grow hemp. But only after processing through much government "Red tape". So instead the USA spends 500 million dollars on importing hemp products. Hopefully in time those numbers will reverse to where the USA is producing over 500 million dollars contributing to its own economic growth.
More research is still needed to be done to better understand the full impact of the endocannabinoid system on our overall health, and how supplementing our natural endocannabinoid production with plant-based cannabinoids may play a significant therapeutic role in our health.
Until marijuana is made legal in all 50 states we can supplement our Endocannabinoid System with hemp oil, hemp edibles, and other hemp products. Just like Marijuana, Hemp has been misunderstood and demonized for over 100 years. Hemp and marijuana are two separate plants of the cannabis family. To clarify more though, hemp oil found at the grocery store is not the therapeutic hemp oil as it is made from the seeds. Therapeutic grade CBD oil comes from the flowers and leaves of the plant. Hemp CBD oil contains .3% THC which facilitates the CBD's attraction to the receptors. Even the small percentage of THC increases the absorption of CBD.
Summary: if you live in a state that has not legalized Marijuana, look to Hemp for the health benefits that your body needs from cannabinoids. There are so many health benefits that cannabinoids can offer using the body’s own healing properties using the Endocannabinoid System. Lose the Stigma that Cannabis is bad. We need Cannabinoids for our body to maintain homeostasis, or optimal health and wellness.