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Discover the "Master Regulator" System You Didn't Know You Have

Your body is made of "systems." You know about most of them...skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, digestive, and so on. Each system is carefully tuned with specific purposes to keep your body functioning ... hopefully effectively and optimally. 

But what about your endocannabinoid system? (ECS)

Every body has one.

Below is a short technical look at it - and in just a few minutes, it'll give you a great insight about WHAT your ECS does, HOW it's important and finally an good understanding of WHY CBD is naturally beneficial to this "master regulator" system of your body. 

 

WHAT IS THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM?

Believe it or not, our bodies are already equipped with a system specifically for using cannabinoids like CBD.  The Endocannabinoid System (endo-cah-NAB-in-oid) is an internal system that contributes to the stability (or homeostasis) of our body’s many processes and responses.1 

The ECS is considered to be a “master regulator”2 within our bodies. It affects a wide range of systems and processes including sleep, appetite, immune responses and more.

The ECS has three main components: endogenous (endo-) cannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors and enzymes.3 

 

WHAT ARE CANNABINOIDS?

There are two categories of cannabinoids: endogenous cannabinoids (also called endocannabinoids) and exogenous cannabinoids.

Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring within the body. 

There are two main endocannabinoids: Anandamide (AEA) and 2-archidonoyl glyerol (2-AG).  Both AEA and 2-AG are neurotransmitters that work by sending signals between nerves. 

While scientists believe the body creates other endocannabinoids, only AEA and 2-AG have been extensively studied so far.4 

Endocannabinoids are produced and released in response to external triggers, such as pain or hunger.1|

Exogenous cannabinoids (also called phytocannabinoids, or more simply referred to as cannabinoids) are naturally occurring compounds in the Cannabis sativa plant.  These cannabinoids include d9-tetrahydrocannabinol (D9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) as well as over a hundred other known cannabinoids  all found in the CBD hemp plant.6

Exogenous cannabinoids enter the body through CBD products such as hemp oil extracts and CBD lotions.

While the body naturally produces endocannabinoids, using CBD products adds cannabinoids to the body to bind to even more cannabinoid receptors.

  

HOW DOES THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM WORK?

The endocannabinoid system can be simplified down to a three step process:

  • cannabinoids are either produced by the body
  • or are ingested,
  • the cannabinoids then bind to cannabinoid receptors which trigger a physiological response within the body.7

There are two primary cannabinoid receptors in the body: CB1 and CB2.

CB1 receptors are the most abundant receptors. They are  found mostly along the central nervous system and the peripheral tissues of the body. CB2 receptors exist mostly in immune cells.8

Where the cannabinoid receptors are located is directly related to how they affect the body when bound with a cannabinoid. 

For example, CB1 receptors concentrated in the cerebellum of the brain relate to the body’s physical coordination.

Similarly CB2 receptors in the immune cells relate to the body’s response to chronic pain.9

The cannabinoid receptors themselves can be visualized as a variety of signaling pathways.10 

When these receptors are triggered by binding with cannabinoids, enzymes begin to utilize and break down the cannabinoids.

These receptors then send signals that act as a “system override” and change the body’s response to an outside action. 

If, for example, the body is responding to pain, the stimulation of CB1 receptors will regulate other neurotransmitters and reduce the pain signals across the brain.11

  

WHY IS THE ECS STILL SUCH A MYSTERY?

While we now know what the endocannabinoid system is and how it works there are still many unanswered questions. 

  • Are there more cannabinoid receptors than CB1 and CB2
  • Does the body produce any more endocannabinoids than AEA and 2-AG?
  • Are cannabinoids from the hemp plant more effective than endocannabinoids?

In the early days of cannabis research most research was focused on the psychoactive properties of THC; other cannabinoids were largely overlooked.12 Research on CBD and the non-psychoactive uses of cannabis overall is still relatively new.

Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam began researching Cannabis sativa  focusing primarily on CBD in the 1960s.13

It wasn’t until the 1980s when a lab at St. Louis University proved the existence of the cannabinoid receptors. In the early 1990s Mechoulam’s lab made further progress by isolating the first endocannabinoid.14

Even with progress, research on cannabis has been notoriously hindered by the legalities of hemp. 

With the discovery of the ECS the doors were opened for research on the potential medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids.  And with recent widespread legalization and decriminalization of hemp, there is more public interest in CBD research. 

New studies are emerging almost daily to show the many applications of CBD hemp products. With so many studies already in the works we will know more with each passing day!

Cedar Meadow Farm is excited to be involved in some of that scientific research, exploring some of the specific effectiveness and even"digging in" to quality differences of hemp grown in cover-cropped soil vs. conventional hemp growth.

  

 

Sources 

  1. Raypole, Crystal. “A Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System.” Healthline, 17 May 2019, www.healthline.com/health/endocannabinoid-system.
  2. Sallaberry, Chad, and Laurie Astern. “The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator.” Journal of Young Investigators, vol. 34, no. 6, 2018. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.22186/jyi.34.5.48-55.
  3. Lu, Hui-Chen, and Ken Mackie. “An Introduction to the Endogenous Cannabinoid System.” Biological Psychiatry, vol. 79, no. 7, 2016, pp. 516–25. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.07.028.
  4. Pietro, MaryAnn Crt de. “What to Know About Endocannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System.” Medical News Today, 27 Feb. 2021, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/endocannabinoid#definition.
  5. Lu, Hui-Chen, and Ken Mackie. “An Introduction to the Endogenous Cannabinoid System.” Biological Psychiatry, vol. 79, no. 7, 2016, pp. 516–25. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.07.028.
  6. Mandal, Ananya, MD. “What Are Cannabinoids?” News-Medical.Net, 26 Feb. 2019, www.news-medical.net/health/What-are-Cannabinoids.aspx.
  7. Lu, Hui-Chen, and Ken Mackie. “An Introduction to the Endogenous Cannabinoid System.” Biological Psychiatry, vol. 79, no. 7, 2016, pp. 516–25. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.07.028.
  8. Piomelli, D. “Endocannabinoids.” Encyclopedia of Biological Chemistry, 2013, pp. 194–96. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-378630-2.00349-2.
  9. FMedSci, Ritter James DPhil Frcp FBPharmacolS, et al. Rang and Dale’s Pharmacology. 9th ed., Elsevier, 2019.
  10. Hunter, Morag R., et al. “Real-Time Measurement of Cannabinoid Receptor-Mediated cAMP Signaling.” Methods in Enzymology, 2017, pp. 43–59. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.mie.2017.05.001.
  11. Sallaberry, Chad, and Laurie Astern. “The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator.” Journal of Young Investigators, vol. 34, no. 6, 2018. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.22186/jyi.34.5.48-55.
  12. International League Against Epilepsy. “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Discovery of the Endocannabinoid System // International League Against Epilepsy.” Epigraph, 2019, www.ilae.org/journals/epigraph/epigraph-vol-21-issue-1-winter-2019/hiding-in-plain-sight-the-discovery-of-the-endocannabinoid-system.
  13. Wilder, Zoe. “Israel: The Epicenter of Cannabis Research and Innovation.” Merry Jane, 28 Mar. 2016, merryjane.com/news/israel-the-epicenter-of-cannabis-research-and-innovation.
  14. International League Against Epilepsy. “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Discovery of the Endocannabinoid System // International League Against Epilepsy.” Epigraph, 2019, www.ilae.org/journals/epigraph/epigraph-vol-21-issue-1-winter-2019/hiding-in-plain-sight-the-discovery-of-the-endocannabinoid-system.