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The Endocannabinoid System

In 1990, Lisa Matsuda of the National Institute of Mental Health was able to pinpoint the exact DNA sequence of cannabis sensitive receptors in a rat’s brain.  It turns out that these receptors vastly outnumber all of the other neurotransmitters in the brain. Located throughout the human body, this vast communication network was aptly named the endocannabinoid system or ECS for short.

Given its importance to human functioning, it’s hard to believe that the ECS is a relatively new discovery.  This complex internal system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body. That may sound simple, but consider this: The ECS controls nearly every vital function we need to live.

Body temperature, appetite, pain, sleep, reproduction, memory, digestion, mood and more are all regulated by the mysterious workings of the cannabinoid system. Without it, we would not be unable to survive.

Is your stomach growling, telling you it’s time to eat?  Are you sweating because it’s so hot outside? Are you yawning because you’re exhausted?  

We can thank our endocannabinoid systems for these small things we often take for granted. The ECS is activated with precision at a subcellular level to keep everything in working order.  Even more amazing is that it only impacts what it needs to–when it needs to.

Every system of the body that works to maintain optimal health and well being is reliant upon the ECS.  When something is out of balance, our bodies manifest symptoms that tell us we are not well.

Many researchers believe that an endocannabinoid deficiency is at the heart of many conditions and ailments we experience in Western Society.  Poor diet, toxins, and stress contribute to disease and illness. Inflammation, in particular, is a primary culprit, and a clue that something is wrong.

For years we have been separated from the therapeutic properties of plants and the healing benefits they offer. Accustomed to separating ourselves from the natural world, we only jump into action when something is wrong; when the pain is too debilitating or the exhaustion is too much.

Often, this entails a trip to the doctors for some pills that will inevitably cause side effects for which additional medicines will be necessary to treat. Meanwhile, your endocannabinoid system is patiently waiting to do its job of restoring your body to homeostasis.

Thankfully, the world is waking up to the fact that mainstream medicine is not helping and in many cases is worsening some of the most wide-ranging conditions we deal with

 

The Makeup of the Endocannabinoid System

 

The bodies of all mammals have receptor sites which correspond to certain compounds present in the cannabis sativa plant.  Scientists have named these sites cannabinoid receptors, after the plant. They can be found in the spleen, brain, lungs, nervous system liver, kidneys, immune system, and in nearly every part of the body.  The discovery of these receptors is relatively new, but researchers believe it has been within all types of animals for millions of years.

The Endocannabinoid system (ECS) consists of several parts: Endocannabinoids (ECB’s), metabolic enzymes, and cannabinoid receptors which are also called CB1 and CB2 receptors

Endocannabinoids (ECBs)

Endocannabinoids are like neurotransmitters that the body produces on its own.  Endo means that the body produces them internally and cannabinoid is named thus because of cannabis.

Incredibly, it turns out that our bodies make the same chemicals that are found in the cannabis plant. In plants, they are called phytocannabinoids.  These cannabinoids circulate through our cells. The two main ECBs are 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)and anandamide.

Anandamide

Anandamide had its discovery when marijuana-related studies were being done in the 1990s. Also called Ananda, it is likened to a cannabis compound naturally created within us. Its effects in the body are similar to how THC attaches to the cells and it controls appetite and memory.  Anandamide comes from a Sanskrit word that translates to “bliss.”

2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)

Three years after Anandamide was discovered,  scientists found another endocannabinoid which they named  2-AG. This cannabinoid attaches to our CB1 and CB2 receptors. It is believed that they play a part in our cardiovascular systems and our emotional regulation. This is interesting to note since we often refer to our emotions concerning our hearts.

These endocannabinoids are based on oils and fats called lipids. There are many enzymes at work in our bodies to produce endocannabinoids and help our system work.  To move around, they are assisted by certain proteins that transport them and store them when they are depleted or finished with their job.

Receptors (CB1 and CB2)

When the cannabinoid THC (from the marijuana plant) binds to the CB1 receptor expressions in our brains and peripheral nervous systems, we experience psychoactive effects. THC has many therapeutic applications, but some people can’t or don’t want to tolerate the effects of using it.

The CB2 receptor type can be found in the liver, heart, bones, blood vessels and more. This receptor is what is activated by taking CBD.  It protects the cells by continually scanning all the fluids surrounding them.

 

Improper Functioning of the Endocannabinoid System

 

Many conditions can be linked to an endocannabinoid deficiency.  The theory is that Inflammatory and immune system disorders develop when our ECS is not functioning correctly. What happens is the amount of endocannabinoid signaling that is required to keep us healthy slows down or even stalls.

Cannabis research scientist Dr. Alan Ruso first proposed this theory in 2004. He noted that patients who were diagnosed with specific health issues had lower levels of endocannabinoids and ECS receptors.

This explains why supplementing with phytocannabinoids like CBD are so effective in alleviating the symptoms of many of these underlying conditions. IBS, migraines, and fibromyalgia are examples of hard-to-treat central sensitivity syndromes that respond very well to CBD supplementation.

 

CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

CBD (Cannabidiol) is one of over 100 compounds found in cannabis.  Sourced from Industrial hemp, it is a safe and legal supplement that can help bring the ECS into balance. Unlike THC, it will not cause the user to get stoned or experience any mind-altering effects.

CBD’s function is in influencing how our own natural cannabinoids attach to the receptors we already have.  It’s kind of like a really efficient administrative assistant for the body.

It also influences specific transport proteins and metabolic enzymes.  It modifies how the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) works. FAAH is an enzyme which degrades Anandamide. CBD interferes with  FAAH’s degradation process.

While it may sound counterproductive at first glance, its function is on increasing the amount of that  ‘blissful’ Ananda in our bodies, allowing it to be metabolized. The result is that Ananda is utilized better and lasts longer.

In addition to inflammation and immune issues, studies indicate that cannabidiol may be useful for a host of other conditions.  Anxiety, depression, central nervous system disorders, neuropathic pain, hypertension, and many other common complaints respond well to CBD.  In fact, it may be easier to ask “what doesn’t CBD help with”?

 

CBD Products

 

CBD oil products have flooded the market, but it is essential to do your research and understand that not all of them are effective. The industry is still in its infancy and completely unregulated. This has resulted in a flood of unscrupulous manufacturers and retailers selling sub-standard products, including synthetic cannabinoids. Some of these contain very little CBD, while others may even be harmful.  

At Four Mile Health, We are committed to providing you with CBD products that are safe, potent, and effective.  We are always happy to answer any questions you may have about plant cannabinoids, our growers, manufacturing methods, or the quality of our ingredients.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21238581

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17712817

https://www.beyondthc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/eCBSystemLee.pdf

https://www.foriawellness.com/blogs/learn/your-endocannabinoid-system-cbd

https://www.projectcbd.org/about/what-is-cbd

https://cannabigold.pl/en/knowledge/how-cbd-interacts-with-the-endocannabinoid-system/

https://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm421168.htm