Scientific research into the potential benefits of individual cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, such as cannabidiol (CBD), first began in the 1940s. As CBD research continues to grow and provides new insights, it’s made one thing very clear—CBD and other cannabinoids have a profound influence on the human body. This one plant and its compounds seem to affect every aspect of our bodies and minds. But how is this possible?
The answer lies in something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Below, we explain everything you need to know about the endocannabinoid system and CBD, including the role of this system in our bodies and how CBD interacts with it to alleviate several common ailments.
The Endocannabinoid System: The Basics
The endocannabinoid system is a cell-signaling system of receptors that was discovered in the early 1990s and was named after the plant that led to its discovery. While more research is needed to fully understand how this system works and its interactions with individual cannabinoids, experts currently believe the endocannabinoid system plays a key role in regulating a wide range of functions and processes in our bodies, including:
The endocannabinoid system performs a variety of tasks at different locations in the body but always with the same goal: homeostasis. What this means is that the endocannabinoid system is in charge of regulating and balancing our bodies.
The human body produces its own native cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, that can activate receptors in the endocannabinoid system to keep internal functions running smoothly. This is why endocannabinoids are often referred to as endogenous cannabinoids.
So far, researchers have identified two main endocannabinoids:
Endocannabinoids and their receptors can be found throughout the body including nerve cells in your brain and spinal cord, your gastrointestinal tract, your skeletal muscles, your vascular system, and your skin. The two main receptor types are the endocannabinoid type I and type II, also known as CB1 and CB2. AEA and 2-AG are released by brain cells when needed and then act upon these receptors to keep our bodies in balance.
The Endocannabinoid System and CBD
Now here’s where CBD comes in. Experts believe that the biggest contributor to the potential benefits of CBD lies in the interaction between the endocannabinoid system and CBD. CBD is believed to interact both directly and indirectly with the endocannabinoid system to promote homeostasis within our bodies. Here are the ways the endocannabinoid system and CBD work together to alleviate common ailments.
Soothing everyday aches and pains: While CBD doesn’t directly reduce pain, it does have the potential to promote a normal inflammatory response in the body. The interaction between CBD and your body’s endocannabinoid system may promote a normal inflammatory response through two potential mechanisms:
The ECS can regulate feelings of pain and the inflammatory response—since CBD can act as a weak activator of endocannabinoid type II receptors (CB2), it affects the inflammatory response.
CBD can increase anandamide levels, enhancing CB2 action and therefore reducing the inflammatory response.
Easing mild anxiety: One possible mechanism for the potential anxiolytic, or anti-anxiety, benefits of CBD is believed to be through CBD’s ability to activate the brain receptor for serotonin, 5-HT1A, which is closely linked to our moods.
Promoting restful sleep: In addition to interactions between the endocannabinoid system and CBD, the potential sleep benefits of CBD might be linked to the body’s cortisol levels. Cortisol is a steroid hormone responsible for regulating a breadth of important processes throughout the body, including sleep-wake cycles.
Start Your Wellness Journey With Feals
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.