Why the Endocannabinoid System is Vital to normal body function and its interaction with Cannabinoids

So you’ve been thinking about trying CBD?… You’ve heard the good news stories and watched the videos floating around social media but are still unsure whether its all ‘hocus pocus’ or based in fact. Well, did you know you have a whole system in your body named after cannabis? The endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Hey wait a minute… Why do we have a whole body system named after cannabis?
During the 1980’s Ronald Regans government committed many resources to studies aimed at proving the link between cannabis or marijuana use and adverse phycological damage.

Not only were these studies unable to find any evidence suggesting cannabis can cause phycological damage but they inadvertently discovered a system of cannabinoid receptors throughout the entire body which opened the door for further research.

What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

First lets look at the component parts of the word “endocannabinoid.” “Cannabinoid” is derived from the word “cannabis,” and “endo” is short for “endogenous,” which means your own body produces it naturally. So put simply “endocannabinoid” means cannabis-like substances that occur naturally inside your own body. That’s right your own body produces its own cannabinoids! But more on that later.

First lets have a look at the component parts of the endocannabinoid system;

endocannibinoid system

Endocannabinoids

Cannabinoid Receptors

Enzymes

You’ve probably heard many claims about the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant or of the plants main component cannabinoids; THC and CBD, But how can they have such a profound effect on the body and work in such a variety of ways? You could be forgiven for believing this to be, just a lot of hype fuelled they the legalise cannabis movement.
As it turns out, as our research and understanding of the endocannabinoid system increase, we are beginning to understand how important the ECS is to the healthy function of our bodies through its interaction with every other bodily system.

The Endocannabinoid System and Homeostasis

Homeostasis Is your body’s way of keeping everything in the right balance and is vital to normal body function. What is the body’s temperature? Are our hormone levels correct? What speed is your heart beating? Are you hungry? Is there too much of something in our blood? And are our cells functioning properly? It’s good to know homeostasis is keeping an eye on everything to make sure your internal bodily environment is running stably and optimally. 

When your body detects is not working properly and needs to be corrected it activates the ECS. So when you begin to sweat on a hot day you can thank your ECS! When your stomach starts to growl and you feel hungry that’s the ECS reminding you to eat! 

The ECS functions via cannabinoid receptors found in select tissues. There are at least 2 that we know of so far;
• CB1 which is in the central nervous system (brain and nerves of the spinal cord)
• CB2 which is in the peripheral nervous system (nerves in your extremities), the digestive system, and specialized cells in the immune system.

The central nervous system is made up of many different types of receptors throughout the body, with cannabinoid receptors believed to be among the most plentiful. 

The ECS, regulates many important body functions through the cannabinoid receptors, such as;  

• Appetite • Digestion • Immune function • Inflammation, including neuroinflammation • Mood • Sleep • Reproduction/fertility • Motor control • Temperature regulation • Memory • Pain • Pleasure/reward

With precision your body activates the ECS to cause change where its needed. This means when your reproductive hormones are out of sync, it works to regulate them and bring them back into sync without altering other bodily systems. Once the endocannabinoids have brought balance back, specific enzymes are produced to break them down, to stop them going too far and again upsetting the balance. It really is true precision at work. 

You can see how important homeostasis is to our health and survival and when your ECS isn’t functioning properly, it can cause a lot of problems.
The cannabinoids found within cannabis and hemp can stimulate activity of the ECS and as a result are now targets for potential treatment. Research is accelerating around the world into the potential treatments cannabinoids can deliver for people suffering from a wide variety of different medical conditions. We have even created synthetic cannabinoid such as nabilone.

As time goes on, and as the legal status of cannabis and cannabinoid products continues to evolve, along with continued research, we will gain a better understanding of the ECS, cannabinoids and how they affect the body. It really is an exciting time and with the potential to deliver profound life changing treatments for people living with some of our most debilitating conditions, let’s hope the research continues with evermore immediacy.

The Role of Receptors and Enzymes

Both cannabis and hemp contain a wide variety of different cannabinoids, The difference being cannabis contains higher levels of THC than CBD and hemp is bred to contain high levels of CBD and minimal amounts of THC. when someone smokes cannabis, a THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) cannabinoid attaches itself to the CB1 receptor of the ECS in the brain and creates a high. Our body creates its own cannabinoid which attaches to the same receptor called anandamide. And anandamide will not get your high like THC but it does have a calming effect. Even the root of the word ‘ananda’ is the Sanskrit word for bliss. 


So why does anandamide not get us high? This is because of the FAAH enzyme, With its job being to breakdown anandamide and other endocannabinoids. The difference is The FAAH can’t breakdown THC and other cannabinoids meaning they stick around for longer and have a much greater effect. 


In the brain, cannabinoids and endocannabinoids work as neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that deliver information from one cell to the next.) Neurotransmitters all interact with a lot of different receptors and thus have a lot of different effects.


CBD or cannabidiol a plant-based cannabinoid has been getting a lot of attention from researchers. It doesn’t have any psychoactive properties, meaning its benefits come without the high of THC. One known function of CBD in the brain is to stop the FAAH enzyme from breaking down anandamide, so the anandamide can have more of an impact. That’s believed to be why CBD can help treat anxiety disorders.


As it turns out, as our research and understanding of the endocannabinoid system increase, we are beginning to understand how important the ECS is to the healthy function of our bodies through its interaction with every other bodily system.

Endocannabinoid Deficiency

As research has continued into the ECS we have also discovered several conditions which appear to be related to dysregulation of the ECS. These conditions are now referred to as clinical endo cannabinoid deficiency (CECD). This is not a disease in itself, rather an umbrella term encompassing many conditions sharing this common feature.

Conditions for which there is evidence that CECD may play a role include:
• Fibromyalgia
• Migraine
• Irritable bowel syndrome

These functional conditions or central sensitivity syndromes tend to be resistant to most treatments and generally involve more than one system. Which is why there is so much excitement around cannabis-based treatments when we look at the areas influenced by the ECS.

Take the example of fibromyalgia (an ever-increasing condition). It affects the immune system, the endocrine system, both the central and peripheral nervous systems and on occasion even the digestive system. Temperature sensitivity, poor memory, lack of energy and pain are common symptoms. Before we had an understanding of ECS, homeostasis and its ability to interact with every bodily system, fibromyalgia appeared to be a mix of seemingly unrelated problems. But now our new understanding of the ECS is offering real hope and promising results to those affected by the condition.

We’re still early in the process of figuring out how to correct endocannabinoid deficiency, but the increasing availability of medical marijuana and CBD products has been largely embraced by the patient community and we’re likely to see a lot more research in that area.

Potential for treatment

Cannabinoid treatment is not limited to the conditions covered by the umbrella term CECD’s. research is ongoing to determine the treatment potential of cannabinoids to wide variety of conditions and illnesses.
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Cardiovascular disease
• Neurological, neurodegenerative, neurodevelopmental, and psychiatric illnesses
• Acute and chronic kidney disease
• Autoimmune diseases
• Chronic inflammatory diseases
• Chronic pain conditions
CBD is currently being used to treat pediatric epilepsy, pain, inflammation, acne, asthma, and a host of other conditions.

Our thoughts here at Chronic Tonics

These certainly are exciting times and with research continuing into cannabinoids and CBD there appear to be a lot of hope and promise of treatments for people suffering a plethora of seemingly untreatable conditions. Of course caution should always be taken when undertaking any new course of treatments, even natural ones, and we advise you to consult your doctor and include them in your decision. You may be surprised to find their attitudes changing towards CBD and cannabinoids in general.

As our legislation begins to catch up with recent medical science we should see a lot of potential treatment options open up for a lot of people as well as further accelerating the rate of medical research on CBD and cannabinoids in general.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article and we hope you’ve found it helpful. At Chronic Tonics our aim is to provide high-quality CBD products to those who need them and we’re always here to help, so please get in touch. Just follow the link below to visit our whole site or use one of our other contact options listed below.

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