How Does The Endocannabinoid System Work?
Did you know that there are both cannabinoids and endocannabinoids? These two substances are similar but come from very different places. Understanding them both helps us grasp how the body absorbs and processes things like CBD.
Additionally, endocannabinoids are a vital part of an extensive system within the body called The Endocannabinoid System. This network holds the key to how our bodies keep the lights on, so to speak.
Let’s dive in while keeping things simple enough for the average person to understand.
How Does The Endocannabinoid System Work? – Endocannabinoids
Endocannabinoids are natural compounds that humans and animals produce inside their own bodies. These substances are very similar to the plant created cannabinoids we take as supplements or for recreation.
Science currently belives that most animals create some form of endocannabinoid, including the humble sea squirt.
Cannabinoids like CBD are so similar to the endocannabinoids your body makes on its own that CBD can interact with structures and elements in your body made to process endocannabinoids. It’s why CBD and THC ‘work.’
How Does The Endocannabinoid System Work? – Cannabinoids
CBD is one of many cannabinoids that hemp produces. We harvest this substance and ingest it in order to release it into our Endocannabinoid System (or ECS).
Endocannabinoids regulate body processes and try to keep things the same no matter what happens to us.
Plants produced cannabinoids to keep themselves safe from pests, environmental threats, and disease. Basically, plants and animals both appear to make their own brand of cannabinoids for similar reasons: to keep life running smoothly.
There are at least 100 cannabinoids known at this time, and of the handful we understand, they each do something a little different. No matter what they do, however, they achieve their effects by entering the ECS and either binding to receptors there (called cannabinoid or endocannabinoid receptors) or influencing other chemicals within the system.
By the way, it’s totally possible that CBD doesn’t bind to any receptors at all, and instead, works more subtly to regulate the body. But, that’s a tale for another time. Let’s move on.
How Does The Endocannabinoid System Work? – Exploring Inside
All of the many systems inside your body networks of structures and biochemicals that work together toward common goals. Just as your Central Nervous System contains your brain and spinal cord, your ECS contains enzymes, endocannabinoid receptors, and neurotransmitters. All of these components communicate with each other to get jobs done.
The ECS is spread out all over your body from your digestive tract to your immune system. This is one of the key reasons that CBD appears to work on so many seemingly unrelated things like pain sensation and mood.
ECS receptors are primarily located in the brain and spinal cord (the Central Nervous System), the Peripheral Nervous System, the immune system and the digestive system. It’s so widespread it’s actually one of the largest systems you have.
The receptors in different areas of the body accept compounds (endo and phyto, or plant, cannabinoids) and enzymes later break them down. It’s a circle of life in there, and it’s all the ECS.
Breaking Down Neurotransmitters, Synapses, and Enzymes
Neurotransmitters are essentially secretions that come out of nerve cells to help cellular communication between synapses.
A synapse is a distance between two nerve cells. Impulses pass through this space on the way from one nerve to another and this keeps things happening inside the human body.
Enzymes are molecules that increase the rate of chemical reactions inside the body. They’re usually made of protein.
How Does The Endocannabinoid System Work? – What Does It Do?
The ECS keeps your body running as it should, or in a state of balance called homeostasis.
More specifically, the ECS governs digestion, appetite, immunity, inflammation, your mood, circadian rhythm, hormones, temperature, memory, and the pleasure and reward system. Although it’s one system, it can activate parts of itself specifically. This is how it fixes imbalances in one area without skewing everything else.
If you take supplemental cannabinoids like CBD, enzymes in your body will break them down just like it breaks down the endocannabinoids it makes. If your body doesn’t need any extra CBD to stimulate balance, it will naturally eliminate it. That’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to overdose on CBD.
Now You’re A Scholar
Hopefully, that wasn’t too complicated and you have a better understanding of your body and the link it shares with hemp. Vertebrates have possessed an ECS for 400 million years by some accounts. On the other hand, hemp is only between 34 million and 6.38 million years old.
If nothing else, you can toss that trivia tidbit out at the next party you attend.