If you’re new to the world of CBD oil, you may be asking yourself about the endocannabinoid system (ECS). If it’s the first time you’ve heard the term, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The endocannabinoid system was only discovered twenty years ago. Here is a beginner’s guide to one of the most important systems in the human body - the endocannabinoid system and simple ways to support it.
Discovery of the Endocannabinoid System
Let us begin with how the ECS was first discovered.
It was in the mid 1990s when the renowned Israeli scientist, Raphael Mechoulam, was trying to understand the effects of T.H.C, the psychoactive compound in cannabis. He and his team suspected there were special receptors in the brain and central nervous system. They eventually discovered the CB1 endocannabinoid receptor which incidentally is the most abundant neurotransmitter receptor in the brain. Soon after, another type of receptor (CB2) was found in the peripheral nervous system and gut. This scientific breakthrough led to the question - if the body has all these receptors, it must be able to produce its own canna.b.i.-like chemicals.
And they were right. Scientists now know there are two endocannabinoids; endogenous cannabinoids (endo meaning to describe cannabinoids produced by our bodies, these can be found in breast milk). Also, Anandamide named after the Sanskrit word for bliss, Ananda and 2-AG.
Role of the Endocannabinoid System
The complex puzzle of understanding the full extent of the role of the ECS was far from complete. What was the purpose of this vast communication network spread throughout our body? What they realised was that the endocannabinoid system, as they named it, brings balance across all of the physiological systems in the body. It does this by acting as a kind of dimmer switch. So if there is too much or too little activity in the body, the ECS receptors signal for activity to be changed in order to bring homeostasis again.Researchers now know that the endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating pretty much every biological function.
The fact that the ECS is so crucial to regulating our health, makes it a fascinating area. Unfortunately until recently, because it has been so intrinsically linked to cannabis, little has been known about the ECS.
What happens if our Endocannabinoid System is out of balance?
It’s widely understood that our bodies must work to maintain a state of homeostasis or balance. So it’s easy to acknowledge, that it is key to support our biological system as it is central to keeping us on an even keel.
Physician, Neurologist and Cannabinoid Researcher, Ethan Russo, MD has made it a life's passion to explore the ECS. In an interview with Project CBD he describes the relevance of the ECS on our whole system.
Russo suggests supplementing the endocannabinoid system with cannabinoids such as CBD in order to support the ECS, thus allowing it to continue to perform its vital role of keeping us well and healthy.
Unhealthy lifestyle habits such as eating junk food can actually cause too much endocannabinoid activity which is linked to metabolic imbalances such as diabetes and obesity.
The Endocannabinoid System and CBD
The relationship between CBD and the endocannabinoid system is very different to that of the ECS and THC. The fact that CBD isn’t psychotropic gives us a clue to why. CBD does not directly activate either the CB1 or CB2 receptors. CBD instead seems to influence the ECS indirectly. What we know is CBD does have a role as a food supplement to support and help to maintain our wellbeing. This really is a such an interesting area.
What can I do to take care of my Endocannabinoid System?
There are many reasons our ECS can get out of balance; poor diet and lifestyle choices are just a few reasons. At Amma Life we believe first and foremost in creating the optimum environment for healing in our body by focussing on self-care, good nutrition and by reducing stress in our lives. Essential fatty acids can also support the ECS.
Taking a quality, whole plant CBD oil is a great way to give your endocannabinoid system some regular TLC. If you believe you are endocannabinoid deficient, boosting your ECS through regular CBD supplementation can help to maintain your health.
Awareness is growing about the importance of maintaining a robust endocannabinoid system. The best changes to create a healthy lifestyle are to move our bodies regularly, eat healthily, do something spontaneous and fun from time-to-time, and of course choose quality, whole plant CBD supplements.