What is the endocannabinoid system?
The endocannabinoid (ENDO- CANNA-BIN-OYD) system has been a hot topic of interest recently in the research world and across social media channels. It’s called the “Endocannabinoid System” because scientists discovered it while studying the effects of cannabis on the human body and in animal studies.
According to Wikipedia, “The endocannabinoid system is a biological system composed of endocannabinoids, which are endogenous lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors, and cannabinoid receptor proteins that are expressed throughout the vertebrate central nervous system and peripheral nervous system.”
So what the hell does that mean?
This means we have a complex system of receptors that interact with cannabinoids (compounds found in cannabis) that directly affect the nervous system in our bodies.
This system is surprisingly found in every human body! It’s something that we’re innately born with and its made up of receptors that interact with THC and CBD- collectively known as cannabinoids. Our bodies actually create their own cannabinoids! Upon further investigation, researchers found these receptors are largely concentrated in the parts of the brain that regulate processes like memory, emotion, cognition, and coordination. In short- they initially found a distinct link to emotional regulation and physiology through the endocannabinoid system.
Years later in 1993, (the year I was born!) researchers found more cannabinoid receptors somewhere else in the body: within the immune system. They discovered these receptors found throughout the immune system interacted with the THC compound in the same way as the ones found in the brain. Shockingly, the entire endocannabinoid system turned out to be way more complex than many suspected it to be. The bottom line at this point in time- researchers were shocked to find a system in the body that was literally created to interact with cannabinoids.
Researchers knew they were onto something really big. Fast forward to 2019 and we’re still discovering just how much this system affects different parts of the body. We still don’t know precisely how the human body’s cannabinoid receptors tie into our overall health, but studies have shown there are some rather important health benefits associated with endocannabinoids.
Read about the benefits of CBD in part one of this two part series: What Is CBD And How To Use IT?
The Endocannabinoid System and Phytocannabinoids
Phytocannabinoids refer to any cannabinoid that is naturally occurring within the cannabis family of plants. Different phytocannabinoids, like THC and CBD, interact differently with the endocannabinoid system. Each phytocannabinoid is unique, not just in the way it interacts with the human body, but how it may also be beneficial for our overall health.
Phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids work together to achieve certain effects. (Rememeber- Endocannabinoids are those little receptors that are found all throughout the body.) Researchers think that these phytocannabinoids help maintain different bodily functions, for everything from the immune system to the nervous system.
Most research has found the endocannabinoid system to play a crucial role in maintaining our body’s homeostasis- our normal overall functioning that is balanced by a stable equilibrium. Our bodies are constantly fighting to be in balance, to be in this state of homeostasis, so that we can function optimally. An imbalanced state of homeostasis, which is bound to happen, doesn’t just affect our organ system functionality, circulation, and so on- but also our anxiety levels and mood changes. Our body is not a mechanical structure where each system functions independently of one another. We are massively complex beings with organ systems, neurons, emotions, and functionality that all intertwine and affect one another.
Humans have two main types of endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are located in the brain and central nervous system. They interact with the sensation of pain, stress, motor skills, and memory. CB2 receptors are found throughout our many organs. They interact with the cardiovascular, immune, and muscular systems.
The fact that this endocannabinoid system + phytocannabinoids can possibly affect not just the physical body but also our mental and emotional health is what has so many people excited about CBD products.
Why Do We Need Phytocannabinoids?
It happens to all of us- as we get older, our bodies start to get damaged and begin to break down over time. Some of this is just simply because of aging, but health problems can definitely be a major part of it too. Endocannabinoids help to maintain your overall health and help the body manage stress- But there’s a caveat to that.
According to Beam, If your health gets worse, your system might not be able to pull the body back to an optimally healthy place. What does this mean? It means that when your system corrects itself as your health declines, it might find new homeostasis that’s anything but healthy. For situations like these, phytocannabinoids can make all the difference. Why? Precisely because of the way they interact with endocannabinoid receptors.
By this point, you’ve probably (definitely) heard of CBD. CBD interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. Therefore, CBD improves the performance of the endocannabinoid receptors in the body, enabling them to do what they’re supposed to do even better than before. It’s like a nice little primer for the system, giving it a little reboot. As we talked about earlier in this post, our bodies actually create their own cannabinoids, but it’s not uncommon to have a cannabinoid deficiency– which can cause headaches, mood changes, and other negative symptoms. CBD can help up regulate the entire endocannabinoid system and get the body back on track.
CBD can also help with some psychological conditions and help manage stress in the body similar to how adaptogens function, if you’re familiar with those. For example, CBD can help maintain healthy cortisol levels and support your brain’s response to stress signals more efficiently. Since anxiety increases our cortisol levels and causes those uncomfortable feelings associated with stress, balancing cortisol levels in the brain is a must.
CBD can also relieve inflammation because it suppresses the body’s inflammatory responses, especially when applied directly onto the skin. This is great news for people with arthritis, infections, or autoimmune disorders. CBD also promotes the generation of regulatory cells and can relieve the ways your brain processes pain.
Believe it or not, CBD may also reduce seizures.
People who have Lennox-Gaustat Syndrome or Dravet Syndrome, two of the most severe types of epilepsy, often see a big reduction in seizures when using CBD. CBD helps to slow nerve activity that can overwhelm the brain.
The other commonly known cannabinoid is THC. While CBD reduces anxiety, THC can cause anxiety in some people, including myself. THC is also the cause of the “high” that most people think of when they think about cannabis because it’s psychoactive. Because CBD is not psychoactive, it delivers all the health benefits without affecting your brain.
For most people, CBD doesn’t cause any negative side effects- though in some people it may cause mild nausea. It’s clear they work differently, but we’re still not sure precisely how THC and CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system. It makes sense that CBD would be beneficial to the body’s endocannabinoid system, but we still don’t understand the cause and effect of this process. A lot of people have reported relief of their symptoms and improved overall health. But the bottom line is that we’re still finding out about all the things that CBD can do.
what CBD products should I try?
My CBD oil of choice is hands down Beam. This company stands out among the rest in so many ways..
From athletes to entrepreneurs, beam was founded on the spirit of pushing limits and pursuing passions. The company brings that mindset to everything they do. My friends Matt and Kevin created beam with the idea that when your inner world is great, your outer world will be great. They’re reimagining the path to feeling your absolute best by pairing high-quality ingredients with innovative products to seamlessly become part of your lifestyle and routines. Each beam product is truly THC-free. Meaning it’s 100% non-psychoactive. Their organic pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil is of the highest purity – with no binders, excipients, dyes, or unknown substances.
WHAT ARE MY FAVORITE BEAM PRODUCTS + HOW TO USE THEM
- The One: Beam’s most popular product – this 1oz tincture allows you to elevate your everyday with 100% organic CBD oil. This multi-purpose product helps improve focus, ease anxiety, and fight inflammation—so you can be your best self, always. Fill dropper and place under tongue for 1-2 minutes. Adults take 1-2 servings per day. Take alone, add to your morning smoothie or coffee! Available in 3 strengths (250mg, 500mg, 1000mg) and 2 flavors (natural and mint)
- The Fixer: Relax and restore with 100% organic CBD salve. With CBD, lavender, and eucalyptus, this his multi-purpose product can help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and soothe skin—so you can feel your best, every day. Massage a small amount of salve wherever needs attention. Repeat as needed throughout the day
- CBD Powered Protein Bar– keep these plant based protein bars on hand in between workouts, outdoor adventures, and on the go when you’re needing some fuel! Beam just launched their Cacao flavor, but they also have their original vanilla flavor too!
WHATEVER PRODUCTS YOU END UP BUYING, BE SURE TO USE CODE CAIT15 TO GET 15% OF YOUR ENTIRE PURCHASE!!
If you have any other questions about CBD in regards to safety, legality, and the science behind CBD, check out Beam’s FAQ page to learn more!
**This post is sponsored and paid for by Beam, a CBD company I use frequently and truly love! All opinions are my own. The materials and content within this blog post are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.**