In the late ’80s and early ’90s, the endocannabinoid system was discovered by researchers who were studying tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While roughly 30+ years have passed since this discovery, there is still limited information about exactly how the endocannabinoid system works and what it does. What is known, however, is that the endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in homeostasis. Homeostasis is a term used to describe the body maintaining stable equilibrium. For the body to function correctly, cells need to be in exactly the right condition. The endocannabinoid system plays a role in keeping cells in this ideal zone. It is responsible for aiding in the proper functioning of several systems in the body, including the following:
- Reproduction and fertility
- Appetite and metabolism
- Skin and nerve function
- Immune system responses
- Muscle formation
There are three components of the endocannabinoid system that make it so these systems remain stable. They include:
- Cannabinoid receptors
- Metabolic enzymes
Cannabinoid receptors live on the surface of cells and transmit information to begin the response from cells that is appropriate for any given cellular condition. The two major and best-studied cannabinoid receptors are called CB1 and CB2. Both of them are located throughout the body but CB1 receptors are the most common in the brain and are the receptors that cause people to feel “high” when they interact with THC. Regardless of type, cannabinoid receptors are activated by endocannabinoids, molecules produced by the body to bind to cannabinoid receptors. When those endocannabinoids have done their job and are no longer needed, metabolic enzymes break them down. This repeats, allowing internal systems to run smoothly.
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How The Endocannabinoid System Functions
The endocannabinoid system functions in two main ways: by regulating cell firing and reducing inflammation. With firing brain cells, endocannabinoids from the endocannabinoid system can regulate overactive neurons so they go back to normal, thus maintaining homeostasis. If a receiving neuron is getting too many neurotransmitters from a sending neuron, it sends back endocannabinoids to stop the overactivity. This may sound small and insignificant, but this process has huge ramifications for the body. In terms of inflammation, endocannabinoids appear to be able to suppress the signals from the immune system that cause inflammation. An immune response can become overactive but endocannabinoids may be able to limit this response, thus preventing or reducing inflammation.
The body does all of this on its own without you ever being conscious of it or thinking about it. These processes just happen. But there is something you can do deliberately to affect the endocannabinoid system: consume CBD in some form.
How Does CBD Help the Endocannabinoid System?
Just as there is more information and research needed regarding this function, there is still much more to learn about CBD. But what we do know about CBD is that it is beneficial to the endocannabinoid system and helps its overall function. The only question is: how?
Some researchers believe that CBD attaches itself to a receptor that has yet to be identified by scientists. CBD attaching to a receptor would help the overall function of the endocannabinoid system, so that logic makes perfect sense. Other researchers, however, think that when CBD is present in the body, it stops the breakdown of endocannabinoids. As mentioned before, endocannabinoids attach to cannabinoid receptors and are then broken down by metabolic enzymes. But, the endocannabinoids can remain in the system longer and provide further benefit to the body if they are not broken down as quickly as they normally would. It is believed that CBD slows that process. Again, these are still theories as they have yet to be proven.
Effects of CBD on the Endocannabinoid System
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system in ways that help reduce symptoms related to a number of different issues, both physical and psychological. For example, when CBD is consumed, it does the following:
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces seizures
- Reduces nervousness
- Blocks pain
- Decreases symptoms associated with anxiety, such as nervousness
These benefits are very much in line with what researchers already know about the endocannabinoid system and CBD and how they might interact with each other. The science can seem complicated and confusing but the most important part about CBD for the average person is just how it makes them feel. And users worldwide report a range of benefits from using CBD. There are a variety of ways you can take CBD that may slightly alter its effects or the timeline for feeling the benefits.
If you are interested in including CBD in your life, you can do so successfully and without much hassle. It is most beneficial to speak to someone with knowledge about CBD prior to taking it, as they can offer the most experienced, sound advice on where to start and what to expect.
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