What Is The Endocannabinoid System?

The Endocannabinoid System

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The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system exists in every vertebrate creature from humans all the way down to nematodes.

Having only been comprehensively identified in the early 1990’s, until recently research into this potentially game-changing feature of our biology has been relatively slow.

Despite it now being increasingly believed that the endocannabinoid system plays a fundamental role towards maintaining good health, it’s still far from fully understood.

What is becoming more certain is that deficiency in our systems may well underpin a potentially vast range of health conditions.

So is it possible that taking CBD supplements may one day become as routine as a daily multivitamin tablet?

Homeostasis Is The Key

We’re going to stay clear of using too much medical jargon in this article, but one term that is essential for understanding the role that endocannabinoids play is homeostasis.

This term essentially means to find ‘a balance’ within the body that is neither too much or too little of a particular hormone, or in this case, cannabinoid.

Sometimes these can be physically apparent, but more often they refer to the background process that silently works away keeping our bodies working efficiently.

Taken as a whole, our ECS plays a vital role in maintaining homeostasis by keeping our receptors (found in every organ/gland in the body) running effectively. When a deficiency develops this undermines our body’s performance and leads to health issues.

CB1 and CB2 are the most prominently researched receptors – the former being mostly psychoactive (the cannabis high) and the latter for hormonal regulation, immune and nervous systems. Yet there are many more throughout the body.

Endocannabinoids are the molecules that are essential for keeping these working properly, which are regulated by metabolic enzymes that ensure just the right amount is used to maintain a steady homeostasis.

How Endocannabinoids Work

An easy way to think of the role endocannabinoids are believed to work is by picturing them with a loudspeaker instructing other functions on how to perform.

CBD Receptors In The Human Body

CBD Receptors In The Human Body

For example, in the case of an injury or infection, they are on site instructing the immune cells to encourage anti-inflammatory roles, calming down stressed nerve cells and slowing the release of stress and pain activators.

Essentially, they help calm the system down and work towards reducing pain with a focus on starting the healing process as effectively as possible.

Needless to say, there remains a great deal of research to be done into further isolating the exact function and application of the many cannabinoids necessary to maintain our happy homeostasis.

To put this into context, full spectrum CBD supplements often contain over 130 different forms as well as terpenes. By understanding these – and in time we’ll get there – we ought to be able to gain a much deeper insight into the process of bodily health and decline.

Besides their practical – and much more measurable – effect upon our molecular processes, it’s also thought that the endocannabinoid system may be essential to psychological well-being.

We can see this with THC (the compound that gets you high) and the way it relaxes the mind and can arguably stimulate creativity and open-mindedness. If THC alone can do this, just imagine what the many dozens of other endocannabinoids may be able to help with.

Can Supplements Help Support Our Endocannabinoid Systems?

Research has demonstrated that ingesting cannabinoids via CBD oils may indeed stimulate the body’s natural production of these essential compounds.

It does take time for these to become effectively absorbed into the body, as the body must build new receptors to help absorb them. Any excess is typically expelled or becomes benignly stored in fat cells.

What is known for certain is that there is a direct causal connection between many aspects of ill-health and a clear-cut deficiency in our endocannabinoid system.

Where this takes us in the future is still open to debate, but the chances are that we will start to see a much greater uptake in the long-term use of supplements to help support our ‘built-in’ system.

I’m Thomas Jones. I graduated from The University of Aberdeen in 2016 with an MSc in Industrial Biotechnology. I’m currently reading for a PhD at The University of Glasgow. I started using CBD in 2017 as a result of finding it in my local vape shop. My experiences in using these products inspired me to undertake my current doctoral research. You can find out more about me and this site here.