What Contributes to the Endocannabinoid System?
You’ve witnessed CBD and other cannabinoids work wonders. From the topical products that bring ease to your sore muscles after an intense workout to the CBD oil you put under your tongue every night to help you maintain deep, restorative sleep- to know it is to love it. But just how exactly do the cannabinoids found in your favorite CBD tincture work?
To understand that we have to take a close look at a system in the body that was discovered in the past 30 years - the Endocannabinoid System.
The Endocannabinoid System
The Endocannabinoid System( ECS) is present in all living creatures with the exception of insects. The first cannabinoid receptor was discovered in 1988 by Lisa Matsuda. Soon after in 1992, Lumir Hanus and his research team identified Anandamide as a cannabinoid. This was the first of many steps to mapping the different types of cannabinoid receptors that make up the ECS.
Though quite new to the world of science, this system affects pain sensation, metabolism, sleep, mood, immune function, and many other aspects of health. Its purpose is to maintain homeostasis- the physiological balance crucial to all systems in the body.
What is Homeostasis?
Homeostasis is responsible for the maintenance of a stable internal environment regulating temperature, blood glucose, and more. The ECS engages with every system in the body to sustain this physiological harmony. However, an unhealthy ECS creates homeostatic imbalance often resulting in disease.
The tone, or wellness, of your Endocannabinoid System is determined by many factors including, stress, genetics, nutrition, and aging. These variables determine the health of the ECS because they affect the number of cannabinoid receptors found in the body.
Cannabinoid Receptors in the ECS
Cannabinoid receptors are another important part of the ECS. Found all throughout the body, these receptors make up the largest neuroreceptor system. Cannabinoids, like those found in plants, bind to these receptors causing them to act. The function of endocannabinoid receptors is determined by where in the body they are found. There are a variety of receptors but the first to be discovered between the years of 1988 and 1993 were simply named CB1 and CB2.
You’ll hear about these receptors more often than others seeing as they are the most abundant. CB2 is commonly found in immune tissues and is known for diminishing inflammation. Whereas CB1 receptors are located in the central nervous system which is why cannabinoids influence functions such as memory processing, pain regulation, and motor control. You can find them all over the body and the number of receptors found is a reflection of the health of the entire system. So what does an unhealthy ECS look like?
What is a balanced Endocannabinoid System?
Too many, or too few cannabinoid receptors contribute to a dysfunctional ECS. However, these receptors do not have a role to play without cannabinoids. The ECS is active in your body whether you take plant-derived cannabinoids, like the ones from cannabis, or not.
CB receptors respond to both endogenous cannabinoids that are naturally made in our bodies and exogenous cannabinoids that are derived from plants or created synthetically. Cannabinoids bind to receptors giving directions, receptors take action, and internal harmony remains uninterrupted.