The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system identified in the early 1990s by researchers exploring Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a well-known cannabinoid. Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids are chemical compounds found in hemp plants. Research shows significant potential for phytocannabinoids to support health & wellness.**** There are over 85 different phytocannabinoids (some say up to 200!) including the commonly known Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). To learn more about Cannabidoil and CBD in general, read our blog “What is CBD Oil?”
The body’s endocannabinoid system helps the body’s functions perform with greater efficacy. The cannabinoids in hemp extract communicate with the body’s endocannabinoid system to help further restore balance and physiological homeostasis.
However, look closer at the word, “endocannabinoid.” “Cannabinoid” comes from “cannabis,” and “endo” is short for “endogenous,” which means that it is produced naturally inside of your body. “Endo” also means “within,” so “within the body.” So “endocannabinoid” simply means cannabis-like substances that naturally occur inside us. Mind blown, right?
Experts are still trying to fully understand the ECS. But so far, they have said it plays role in regulating a range of functions and processes, including:
- reproduction and fertility
How Do Endocannabinoids Work?
Our endocannabinoid system produces cannabinoids naturally, which maintain and regulate the body’s equanimity. Think of it as being in a state of homeostasis. The word homeostasis comes from the Greek words for the “steady.” Your body wants to keep everything working right and working smoothly, no matter what is going on in the environment around you. Just like gauges on a dashboard, your body works to monitor important functions in your body. Temperature too high? It will switch on the body’s response to sweat to cool you down. Dehydrated? Let’s turn on thirst functions to grab water. Alternatively, because homeostasis is essential to our health and survival, so when the ECS isn’t working properly, it can cause a lot of problems for you.
Endocannabinoids are molecules that, like the plant cannabinoid THC, bind to and activate cannabinoid receptors. However, unlike THC, endocannabinoids are produced naturally by cells in the human body (“endo” means “within,” as in within the body).
Experts have identified two key endocannabinoids so far:
- anandamide (AEA): Derived from the Sanskrit word “ananda,” which translates to “joy,” “bliss,” or “delight,” anandamide is sometimes called “the bliss molecule.” Scientists have likened it to when you eat chocolate to fulfill a craving. It has also been shown to bind with a strong affinity to the CB1 receptors, which may play a greater role in the analgesic effects of the endocannabinoids.
- 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG): This is the most prevalent endocannabinoid in the body and was first described in 1994-1995 by Raphael Mechoulam and his student Shimon Ben-Shabat. While it was previously a known chemical compound, this is when scientists first became aware of its affinity for cannabinoid receptors.
These two key systems help keep internal functions running smoothly. Your body produces them as needed, making it difficult to know what typical levels are for each.
For example, if ingesting a Warfighter Hemp CBD tincture, the cannabinoids trigger the body’s endocannabinoid system by attaching to specialized receptors that are found throughout the body and regulate functions such as memory, movement, appetite and more.
This adhesion activates an event in the cell and surrounding cells to aid in balancing sleep, mood, pain and inflammation for optimal function. Just as a particular key is designed to open a single lock, a given receptor may accept only certain classes of compounds and be unaffected by other compounds Therefore, every time you consume Warfighter Hemp’s Full Spectrum CBD Oil or Broad Spectrum CBD Oil—the endocannabinoid system is stimulated.
But what exactly are endocannabinoid receptors?
These receptors are found throughout your body. Endocannabinoids bind to them in order to signal that the ECS needs to take action.
There are two main endocannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 receptors, which are mostly found in the central nervous system, particularly in cortex, basal ganglia, hippocampus, and cerebellum *
- CB2 receptors, which are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells
Through those receptors, the ECS helps regulate a lot of important functions, such as:
- Immune function
- Inflammation, including neuroinflammation
- Motor control
- Temperature regulation
Endocannabinoids can bind to either CB1 or CB2 receptor. The effects that result depend on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid it binds to.
For example, endocannabinoids might target CB1 receptors in a spinal nerve to relieve pain. Others might bind to a CB2 receptor in your immune cells to signal that your body’s experiencing inflammation, a common sign of autoimmune disorders.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
Like most things involved with the human body, experts aren’t 100 percent sure how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system. Some believe that its works by preventing endocannabinoids from being broken down. Others believe that CBD binds to a receptor that hasn’t been discovered yet.* However, since the cannabis plant can essentially function as a mass stimulation to the ECS, the body recognizes these phyto-cannabinoids as endocannabinoids. ***
While the details of how it works are still under debate, research suggests that CBD can help with pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with multiple conditions.
However, looking at it from a basic human biology standpoint and knowing how cannabinoids fit into our receptors, much like a key fits into a lock, and how hemp extract and phytocannabinoids integrate with our internal Endocannabinoid System, it should all work together to “unlock” health benefits. This network of receptors exists in our immune system, the central nervous system, and within many organs to support major bodily processes.
Additionally, it depends on how much CBD oil you ingest. Learn more about how much CBD to take from our blog, “How Much CBD Should I Take?” CBD comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and format and that can impact the dosage. For example, oral solutions, such as Warfighter Hemp Full Spectrum or Broad Spectrum Tinctures depend on volume. CBD gummies (Coming Soon!) and capsules will tell you how much is in a single serving, which allows for better control. If you’re using CBD oil, it’ll likely come in a tincture or dropper bottle. The packaging might specify how much CBD is in a single drop. From there, you can figure out how many drops you need to use. Other packaging will tell you how much CBD is in a bottle (not a dropper).
Of course, at Warfighter Hemp, we always recommend talking with your doctor about CBD and whether it is right for you. Discuss the proper dosage based on the symptoms you’re seeking to alleviate and the variety of other factors. It may take some experimentation to find the right fit for you, but the investment of time will hopefully be worth it.
How does the CBD work to enhance the ECS?
The phytocannabinoids (“phyto” as in, phytogenetic, or from plants) we mentioned earlier can help replenish our body’s ECS where our endocannabinoids left off. Created by plants like Cannabis Sativa, phytocannabinoids include cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC — the psychoactive component of cannabis). All of these phytocannabinoids in Cannabis Sativa work together increase the effectiveness of the others — including CBD and THC. This collaboration among chemicals is called the “entourage” or “ensemble” effect.
This theory of the entourage effect is thoroughly described in a review called “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects,” authored by Dr. Ethan Russo—a neurologist and pharmacologist who has long studied cannabis compounds and how they affect the body. In this review, Dr. Russo details the studied benefits of common cannabis compounds, and based on their pharmacology, describes their potential synergistic effects. Many who work closely with cannabis believe the entourage effect can dramatically increase effectiveness of THC and CBD, either by magnifying their known effects or by expanding their menu of therapeutic applications.
How Does the Body Get Rid of the Cannabinoids?
We visited two pieces of the entire endocannabinoid system: the endocannabinoids, the receptors and now, there is a third piece to the system – the metabolic enzymes.
These enzymes ensure that endocannabinoids get used when they’re needed, but not for longer than necessary. This process distinguishes endocannabinoids from many other molecular signals in the body, such as hormones or classical neurotransmitters, which can persist for many seconds or minutes, or get packaged and stored for later use.
Tying It Altogether
These three key components of the endocannabinoid system can be found within almost every major system of the body. If an action happens that brings a cell out of its “happy place” of homeostasis, these three triads of the ECS are pulled in to bring things back to its set state.
Dr. Vincenzo Di Marzo is the Research Director at the Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry in Italy and is considered as one of the foremost authorities in cannabinoid research said,
“This signaling system (the ECS) is currently regarded by many as a fundamental pro-homeostatic regulatory system involved in all physiological and pathological conditions in mammals.” **
Additionally, as stated in the article by Chad A. Sallaberry and Laurie Astern,
The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator, “The ECS may not only provide answers for diseases with no known cures, but it could change the way we approach medicine. This system would allow us to change our focus from invasive pharmacological interventions (i.e. SSRIs for depression, benzodiazepines for anxiety, chemotherapies for cancer) to uncovering the mystery of why the body is failing to maintain homeostasis. Understanding the roles of ECS in these diseases confers a new direction for medicine which may eradicate the use of some of the less tolerable therapeutics.” ****
***Gertsch, J., Pertwee, R., & DiMarzo, V. (2010). Phyto-cannabinoids beyond the Cannabis plant-do they exist? British Journal of Pharmacology, 160(3), 523-529. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00745.x
**** 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.