The endocannabinoid system is a fascinating, relatively new, field of study. It creates the bridge between your body and your brain with a complex network of neurotransmitters and receptors.
In fact, your endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for regulating and modulating nearly every system in your body, including your thought processes and your emotional responses. Some of the additional functions of this system include:
- Cardiovascular function
- Immune system function
- The function of the digestive system
- Pain perception
- Sleep cycle regulation
- Body temperature regulation
- Metabolism and appetite
Your Natural Cannabinoids
Now that you know a bit about what your ECS does, you may be interested to know a bit about how it works. Your body produces cannabinoids, the messengers that stimulate the receptors, creating a response from your brain. These are referred to as endocannabinoids because your body creates its own supply. There are two main endocannabinoids.
- Anandamide – found in higher concentrations throughout your body
- 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) – found mostly in your brain
Endocannabinoids are created as needed and quickly broken down by enzymes.
Your Cannabinoid Receptors
Now that you understand the messengers, you should know a bit about the receptors. There are two cannabinoid receptors. They are simply referred to as CB1 and CB2. They are located throughout your brain and body and serve different functions.
- CB1 receptors are found in the highest concentration within your spinal column and your brain. The CB1 receptors influence your emotions, memories, stress response and pain perception.
- CB2 receptors densely populate your peripheral nervous system and your immune cells. When activated by a messenger, CB2 receptors reduce inflammation.
Now you know that your body is naturally wired to work with cannabinoids. The cannabinoid sources found in sources outside of your body are known as exogenous cannabinoids. The cannabinoids in CBD (cannabidiol) and marijuana (THC) are the two best-known sources. Cannabidiol provides all the exogenous cannabinoid benefits without the intoxicating effects.
How Cannabidiol Benefits Your Endocannabinoid System
Cannabidiol does not bind to cannabinoid receptors as THC does. It inhibits the production of the protein FAAH, responsible for breaking down the endocannabinoid anandamide. When anandamide is not broken down, it builds up in your brain.
CBD also shows the ability to target the serotonin 1A receptors, directly related to disorders such as neuropathic pain, depression, anxiety, and others. Some of the other potential benefits of Cannabidiol supplementation include:
- Preventing the accumulation of the beta-amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s
- Stopping the nausea and vomiting of chemotherapy
- Relieving the inflammation associated with the risk of many health issues
- Reducing pain perception
- Slowing tumor growth
- Reducing inflammation associated with collagen loss and premature aging
Cannabidiol is legal to purchase and sell throughout the US because there is no possibility of any intoxicating effect. As of now, most research regarding the potential benefits of cannabidiol is based on animal studies and laboratory results. CBD is considered a dietary supplement, not a medical treatment. Some of the products available for dietary supplementation include tinctures, edibles, vape liquids, as well as topical creams and ointments.