With CBD and cannabinoids being in the news, gaining popularity, and becoming more and more accepted every day, it’s important for us to know how and why they work. I’m sure you’ve heard all of the wonderful things that CBD can do for you, and you may have even thought once or twice that some of the claims sound too good to be true. By digging into what exactly the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) is and what it does, we can start to understand why CBD and other cannabinoids are so effective in the human body. Here are some interesting facts about this incredible system that you may not have known:
#1 - You have a recently discovered system in your body named after cannabis
You’re probably asking yourself why a naturally occurring system in our body is named after cannabis. Great question! The endocannabinoid system was discovered in the late 1980’s when scientists were conducting research to see what happens in the human body after ingesting THC. They were quite surprised to find that THC and other cannabinoids were actually bonding with what are now known as cannabinoid receptors - CB1 and CB2 being the primary and most known. These act as a network of cell-level receptors, found mainly in the brain and spinal cord, but throughout the entire body as well. Some consider this to be more significant a discovery than all major neuroscience breakthroughs combined. A good way to think about the ECS is to picture a network that is essentially numerous key holes. The cannabinoids we ingest act as the keys to this network. They can act as either agonists or antagonists to activate or deactivate certain receptors in an effort to achieve homeostasis. Having a better understanding of how cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system interact makes it more clear why cannabinoids have been credited with helping anything from inflammation to pain perception to helping with seizures and more...
#2 - Your body actually produces its own cannabinoids
When we talk about cannabinoids from cannabis, we're actually referring to phytocannabinoids, meaning they are produced by and in the cannabis plant. Endocannabinoids mean they are naturally produced by our own bodies. Anandamide (AEA) is the most famous endocannabinoid, and is referred to as the brain’s own cannabis. However, like most functions in the body, it’s not perfect on its own and can perform better when synergy is created by introducing other cannabinoids to our ECS. Some preliminary research shows that clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (the lack of endocannabinoids in the body) could be partially responsible for IBS, fibromyalgia, and even migraines. It’s important to make sure that we’re helping to regulate our ECS by consuming cannabinoids and striving to achieve homeostasis.
#3 - The research is just starting - and we need more
There haven't been many long-term studies on the ECS yet, and it’s existence is only now being taught in some medical schools. As CBD and hemp continue to become more mainstream, and perhaps even legalized in the coming months, it is expected to see cannabis education in academia increase rapidly. Historically, universities have been averse to conducting research or requesting grants for any study related to cannabis science. Since cannabis it is still considered a schedule 1 drug, this has been a reasonable stance. But as the federal position continues to soften, more and more universities will open their doors to cannabis education, and scientists will begin to feel comfortable requesting grants for research that is now destigmatized and being considered more important by the day. More blinded and placebo controlled human trials will help us achieve the following:
- Determine the efficacy of cannabis for treating certain conditions
- Learn the best types of cannabinoids and cannabis genetics to use for certain conditions
- Perfect the correct dosage
- Determine side effects
- Recognize any potential risk groups
Bonus - It's not just humans
All animals (with the exception of insects) have an endocannabinoid system, too! Be sure that you're helping to regulate your pet’s ECS by providing them with healthy, safe-for-animals cannabinoids.
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