The ABCs of Our ECS: What is Our Endocannabinoid System and Why Does it Matter?
We are now all becoming well-versed with the potential benefits CBD has to offer our mind and body. However, you may be unaware of how CBD actually interacts with our bodies to make this possible. While there are eleven major organ systems that allow the human body to function, you may have never heard of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS was discovered in the early 1990s, whilst researchers were studying the effects tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD's well-known intoxicating counterpart, has on the body.
This discovery of our ECS unearthed the human body's largest neurotransmitter system, in a complex network of cannabinoid receptors which are present in cells within the central and peripheral nervous system. As our knowledge of the ECS grows, so does the importance placed upon this system for its role in establishing and maintaining human health.
What is CBD?
To get to grips with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), let's first explore CBD as a supplement and why it's important in the first place! Through greater education surrounding CBD, we hope to add clarity to what is often considered a grey area to uncover the true use of this natural supplement, which may help us flourish in our everyday lives.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a natural supplement that has exploded in popularity amongst the health and wellness industry. Although THC and CBD are both derived from the same cannabis Sativa plant, CBD is non-intoxicating; therefore, it will not get you high like its well-known counterpart THC. This enables CBD to be consumed as a safe supplement, suitable for integrating into your everyday wellness routine.
Since becoming regulated in the UK, CBD has been widely explored for its potential benefits. The anecdotal evidence collected alongside scientific studies has found positive evidence that CBD is a valuable supplement that can help to connect the mind and body, whilst supporting everyday balance.
However, CBD-based research remains in its infancy; therefore, the full scope of CBD's potential benefits are still to be realised. Although this may make CBD appear as a ground-breaking new supplement, hemp has actually been used for centuries, owing to its sustainable and versatile nature.
What is full spectrum CBD?
Unlike CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD, full-spectrum CBD contains all the natural phytocompounds naturally found in hemp, including terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids. Terpenes are compounds responsible for the flavours, smells, and colours of plants, including hemp.
Also referred to as essential oil, terpenes are believed to have therapeutic properties, including possibly having the ability to fight inflammation and pain, as well as potentially act as an antidepressant.
Furthermore, flavonoids refer to phytonutrient compounds that are said to be rich in antioxidant properties and have possible cancer-fighting potential effects. Therefore, CBII full-spectrum CBD is the result of our purely and gently extracting these high-quality compounds from hemp, in their natural state as intended, without compromising on benefitting from the plant's full botanical potential.
What Is The Endocannabinoid System?
The body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) is often seen as a complex matter; however, we think through gaining an understanding of the science behind CBD, we can begin to unravel the intriguing possibilities behind it.
To understand what this system does, we can first look to its name for clues. Firstly, "endo" refers to being "endogenous," which means that it is naturally produced inside the body. The second part of the word, "cannabinoid," derives from the plant that led to its discovery, "cannabis." Therefore, together, "endocannabinoid" refers to cannabinoids produced naturally by the body without the need for the plant, as they occur naturally inside us.
Understood to be one of the most critical physiological systems for regulating and maintaining the body's health (particularly homeostasis), the ECS works between our immune system, nervous system, and our body's organs to form a bridge between the body and mind. By understanding the complex actions of our ECS, we can begin to unravel the mechanisms behind how CBD may potentially promote health and come with a whole host of possible effects.
What Is The Purpose of Our ECS?
Not exclusive to humans, it has been found that the ECS is present in all vertebrates and invertebrates. Incredibly, through the comparison of genetics across species, the ECS can be dated back to sea-squirts.
This primitive animal, which evolved over 600 million years ago, is believed to have expressed cannabinoid receptors, helping to demonstrate the importance of the ECS in survival from an early period. Six hundred million years ago is known as the Neoproterozoic period, and was the first time multi-celled organisms appeared.
Although it is one of our main bodily systems, we still do not have a complete understanding of what our ECS exactly does. Research so far has shown that the ECS plays a vital role in many of our physiological functions, found throughout the body in our brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. Communicating cell-to-cell, this great network of neurotransmitters in our body all work towards one common ultimate goal: promoting homeostasis.
What is Homeostasis and Why Is It Important?
Here's our best definition of homeostasis: homeostasis is the internal state of equilibrium and stability within our bodies, no matter what fluctuations may be occurring in the external environment. Homeostasis affects a wide range of bodily functions and processes, including; sleep, appetite, pain, inflammation, memory, mood, and reproduction. In this way, the ECS deals in the modulation of all major bodily systems and functions to maintain homeostasis and ensure the health and survival of the body.
The biological system of our ECS allows all living organisms to self-regulate their internal environment, to keep homeostasis in order to process energy and survive. When homeostasis is in play, the body is in a stable state of equilibrium. However, when homeostasis is damaged or dysfunctional, it can lead to health issues such as inflammation, arthritis, cancer, epilepsy, nausea, stress, and anxiety.
Therefore, our ECS is critical in sending regulatory and balancing neurotransmitter responses throughout the body, in order to keep the body's internal environment stable.
Understanding How Our ECS Works
This cell-signaling system, found in all mammals, is composed of endocannabinoids, nervous system receptors, and enzymes that facilitate the synthesis and degradation of the endocannabinoids. Our ECS follows a physiological process, from producing endocannabinoids to binding them to cannabinoid receptors, which target cells and trigger a cellular response throughout the body.
In fact, there are believed to be more endocannabinoid receptors in the body than all the other neuromodulatory (chemical message receiving) receptors in the body combined, even more than the receptors for the neurotransmitters of serotonin and dopamine.
What this means for our body is that our endocannabinoids play a critical role in interacting with our nervous system receptors to control, regulate, and manage our body's physiological levels by way of neurotransmitters. They are able to do this by sending neurotransmitters throughout your body to communicate across cell types and ensure functionality and balance. Cleverly, these neurotransmitters are able to regulate where necessary by sending signals to receptors that communicate how you think and feel.
Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids then have the potential ability to search for the function and location of receptors to message throughout the body. This incredible ability of our ECS to interact with receptors throughout our bodies allows a bespoke response, with potential effects ranging from anti-inflammatory actions, to feelings of euphoria. Since the ECS has receptors located throughout our body and especially in our brain, it's no surprise that it can affect both the physical and emotional sides of our lives.
Getting To Grips With Our Receptors
Our ECS contains two main receptors, referred to as Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2). CB1 receptors are predominantly found in the brain, nervous system, connective tissues, glands, and organs. When this receptor binds with naturally-produced endocannabinoids from our body, and cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant, they can activate to unlock feelings of relief from neurological issues such as pain, nausea, and depression.
CB2 receptors are mainly located in the immune system, and also maintain a high concentration within the spleen and gastrointestinal system. These receptors are most responsive to both endocannabinoids and cannabinoids. They are tasked with regulating things such as appetite, inflammation, and general pain management within the immune system's functions.
Present throughout the human body, cannabinoid receptors are embedded in cell membranes and are thought to have the largest network of neurotransmitters within the body. When stimulated, these cannabinoid receptors begin to engage in a variety of physiologic processes. These receptors are found in various amounts and densities throughout our bodies and can have a different effect on each individual. Every balance, number, and density of receptors triggered by cannabinoids is different for each human individual.
This helps to explain why your body's response to CBD is so individual and unique, with the difference in our expressions of cannabinoid receptors resulting in different experiences amongst users of the same CBD oil. This demonstrates the importance of starting low with your CBD dose and gradually building up if needed, as part of a slow process that allows your body to interact with the cannabinoids and build their response.
It has been found that small doses of cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant may encourage the production of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors within the body. This helps to uncover why some first-time users of CBD report feeling no effects, indicating that, with regular use, the body may be encouraged to produce more cannabinoid receptors.
Once more receptors have been built, the body is then capable of interacting with the cannabinoids by the second or third administration of CBD.
Regulating most bodily systems, our ECS oversees our immune system, gastrointestinal system, central and peripheral nervous system, reproductive system, and digestive system. Therefore, when the ECS is dysfunctional, it inhibits the body's ability to regulate things like emotions, appetite, and memory.
Our ECS regulates, balances, and maintains various important bodily functions through the use of our naturally-produced endocannabinoids that interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors, including:
- Immune function
- Motor control
- Temperature regulation
- Pleasure and reward
The natural production of cannabinoids within our ECS can help us to understand why CBD is so compatible with our bodies, and potentially with the modulation of bodily processes and functions.
In addition to maintaining internal health, CBD can also influence your relationship with your external environment through potentially affecting neurogenesis-related (the forming of new brain cells) properties and possibly neural plasticity (the ability of the nervous system to change).
Believed to positively alter the human outlook on their mood and wellbeing, other social benefits are thought to influence one's humour, creativity, open-mindedness, as well as giving users the tools to reform self-limiting thoughts and behaviour. The administration of CBD for these reasons may potentially help to increase your quality of life, bettering human behaviour through feelings of wellbeing, energy, and positivity.
Although researchers have currently only identified two cannabinoid receptors, it is hypothesised that there may be a third receptor discovered in the future.
Feel good chemicals
Many tissues within the body contain both CB1 and CB2 receptors, ready to take on different physiological roles. A known cannabinoid-like chemical, anandamide (meaning "internal bliss"), has the greatest number of related receptors in the brain where anandamide is synthesised and is believed to act as the "feel good" endocannabinoid.
Research has found that anandamide could potentially be able to interact with both CB1 and CB2 receptors to modulate the central and peripheral nervous system to ensure a healthy and functioning immune system, as well as being involved with memory, motivation, thought processes, movement, pain, appetite, and fertility. When the ECS is deficient in anandamide, it can be linked to syndromes such as schizophrenia and depression.
Depending on your natural production of anandamide, it can help to determine your need and use for CBD and its cannabinoids. Researchers believe that, through increased activity in aerobic exercise, we can naturally increase our levels of anandamide. Furthermore, it is vital to maintain a healthy diet rich in omega 3, an essential fatty acid often found in oily fish and hemp seeds, as this can help support endocannabinoid signalling within the brain.
ECS's Unique Backward Communication
To inhibit immune response, reduce inflammation, relax muscles, lower blood pressure, and normalise stimulated nerves, the ECS is required to communicate 'backwards' via cellular communication. Backwards communication of the ECS refers to how endocannabinoids are synthesised after postsynaptic neuron activation, and travel in a retrograde (backwards) direction back across the synapse, where they encounter and attach to cannabinoid receptors.
This ensures the system rarely produces more endocannabinoids than necessary, allowing the ECS' practices to be dealt with in moderation, promoting balanced functioning and stabilised health. When the ECS is unregulated and unbalanced, homeostasis is compromised; and can lead to an array of health conditions and issues. This state is referred to as Clinical Endocannabinoid System Deficiency Syndrome.
Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency
When the ECS is dysfunctional or damaged, the body cannot maintain homeostasis, as it has lost its stability and balance. This is referred to as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD). To understand this further, scientists are beginning to learn how CECD is linked to several diseases and conditions that are hypersensitive to pain or stimulus.
Such conditions commonly include migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. It is thought that CECD plays a role in these functional conditions, also known as central sensitivity syndromes, which can be resistant to most treatments. More research is being conducted into CBD-related supplements to mainstream treatments for these conditions. However, as they all involve more than one bodily system, this helps to consolidate the importance of the ECS and its influence over various areas and the functioning of the body.
The Rebalancing Role of Cannabinoids
In order to maintain a healthy internal environment and ensure homeostasis, the body is required to regain a stable balance. Although research into correcting CECD remains in its infancy, there is thought to be some potential in reintroducing the body to cannabinoid supplements such as CBD.
This is thought to potentially help correct the deficiency caused by the lack of naturally-produced endocannabinoids by the body, helping to relieve symptoms of the health issues caused by CECD to restore internal order and maintain health.
Research has also identified small doses of cannabinoids as helpful in the body's production of endocannabinoids, as well as building more cannabinoid receptors, due to signals created. This demonstrates that CBD may not only help supplement the ECS, but may also play an integral role in the healthy maintenance of this crucial balancing system.
CBD is not only thought to be a potential treatment for conditions involving endocannabinoid deficiency, in fact, but there are also a host of illnesses and issues that people administer CBD for in the hopes of utilising its potential therapeutic properties.
Potential Benefits of CBD
Scientific research into CBD is still in its infancy. It is thought that, alongside discovering empirical evidence for claims made about the potential therapeutic properties of CBD, there may also be benefits not yet discovered or realised.
Based on current research and anecdotal evidence, it is believed that CBD has a range of therapeutic uses and properties. These include the modulation of inflammation, neurogenesis, general pain management, relieving of spasms and tremors, as well as antioxidant properties.
Due to growing interest and support, CBD oil for pain, inflammation, epilepsy, acne, and asthma are already commonly-used by sufferers, though not as a replacement to any mainstream treatments, rather as a health supplement. An exciting time for medical researchers, CBD is also experimented with and being researched for its potential role in supplementing the treatment of many diseases and conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular disease, neurological illnesses, and chronic pain.
Aside from potential medical benefits, we find special power in how our full-spectrum CBD oil may promote our health, happiness, and inner wellbeing. Many users find our full-spectrum oil a powerful natural and botanical supplement, with the potential to combat stress, anxiety, pain, lack of concentration, and sleep loss.
By adding balance back into our inner wellbeing, we believe you can help to soothe and add a relaxing calmness to your day. By helping to ease anxiety and mental chatter, you may achieve restful and revitalising sleep, ensuring you can be the best version of yourself, naturally.
Therefore, we believe that, by following a wellness routine unique to your needs and requirements, alongside the use of CBD oil, vitamins, and other supplements, we can help you to promote your general wellbeing through the use of products rooted in nature.
Importance of Selecting High-Quality CBD
Due to its rise in popularity over the last few years, the CBD market has been flooded with products and brands. Unfortunately, this has also led to low-quality CBD entering the market, leading to inaccurately-reported CBD contents on products and misleading health claims.
Furthermore, low-quality, inexpensively-manufactured CBD products are known for having very low bioavailability levels. Bioavailability refers to the efficacy of CBD and the quantity of the supplement that is absorbed into the bloodstream for active effects to take place.
Therefore, CBD products that have a low bioavailability rate will cause no or much lesser effects to be felt, requiring higher doses, which can be wasteful and costly, as well as tainting the efficacy of CBD as a supplement to support in users' health and wellbeing.
That is why, here at CBII, we are committed to delivering you with the highest-quality CBD, that is transparent, traceable, and truthful. Purely and gently extracted, we ensure every drop of CBII's natural, botanical, full-spectrum CBD oil is delivered to you as nature intended. Our full-spectrum CBD oil is considered a premium CBD product.
Unlike so many other oils that miss out on many of the amazing compounds that hemp oil has to naturally offer, our CBD oil works effectively to potentially naturally support our body's ECS through the power of botanicals to give you a drop of wellbeing.
A Final Word
The use of CBD is nothing new; in fact, hemp has been used for thousands of years to naturally supplement health, and has even been used in religious ceremonies for over a thousand years in places such as India.
Only in modern science has the anecdotal evidence gathered by traditional healers and hemp-consumers started to unravel the truths behind such claims and show effectiveness that justifies such continued scientific inquiry.
The ECS's discovery, alongside promising research and anecdotal evidence, has proven to support the growing interest in CBD and the possible therapeutic effects of this natural botanical oil. Through small doses of CBD, it is believed that it can potentially help to support the ECS and the signals it produces throughout the body to interact with this incredible physiological system.
Although our ECS remains an area of emerging knowledge within science, the role of cannabinoids within this system is almost certainly useful to understand in greater terms of our health.