Understanding Your Endocannabinoid System

pages from medical books represent study of endocannabinoid system

Endocannabinoid Basics

All animals (and thus all humans) have an endocannabinoid system.  This system helps regulate many bodily functions. Some include: fertility, pregnancy, pre-and-postnatal development, appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory.  Your brain and your immune system both contain vast quantities of receptors where different cannabinoids act as a neurotransmitter.  Many foods, such as carrots, contain cannabinoids. So far, though, they are found in the highest concentration in the cannabis plant.  CBD (cannabidiol) is the most prevalent cannabinoid in industrial hemp. It is 100% legal, non-psychoactive (it won’t get you high), and has been shown to have many health promoting benefits.

The endocannabinoid system has been increasingly associated with a number of physiological functions in recent years.  Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body.  There are receptors in peripheral organs as well as throughout the entire nervous system. Modulating the endocannabinoid system with supplements like CBD shows potential therapeutic benefit for a number of maladies. Anxiety, Parkinson’s, neuropathic pain, MS, metabolic disorders, glaucoma, seizure disorders such as epilepsy, and cancer, are on the growing list of pathologies where CBD and cannabinoids have shown therapeutic promise.

Cannabinoids as Medicine

Many of the therapeutic benefits associated with regulating the endocannabinoid system have been obscured and delayed.  This is due to social stigma associated with the most well known of the cannabinoids, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound that produces a high in recreational cannabis.  Fortunately, industrial hemp produces cannabidiol in far greater quantities than it produces THC. Science and technology have improved the processing and refinement of industrial hemp.

CBD can now be extracted with no (or next to no) THC present through an entirely organic process.  This has accelerated cannabinoid research across the board. Our understanding of the endocannabinoid system continues to improve almost daily.  As this understanding improves, we have come to see that modulating the endocannabinoid system with CBD carries most, if not all, of the same benefits as THC with none of the psychoactive side effects.  Thus, cannabidiol carries therapeutic promise associated with modulating the endocannabinoid system without interfering with users’ daily life and routine.

Recap and Further Reading

Research continues to associate the endocannabinoid system with memory, neural excitement, appetite and metabolism, energy levels, balance, social function, thermoregulation, immune function, and more.  The oldest animals identified to have an endocannabinoid system are on the order of 600M years old, and this ancient system has only been known to humans since 1964.  The benefits of modulating the endocannabinoid system with CBD and other cannabinoids is already becoming clear, but we are likely just beginning to unlock the potential of this vast and complex area of study.

Here is some further reading if you’d like more information.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2241751/

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