How Does The Endocannabinoid System Work?

How Does The Endocannabinoid System Work?

What Does the Endocannabinoid System Do?

To understand the ECS, we first need to understand homeostasis. Homeostasis is the process of your body trying to keep everything in the right zone. It attempts to keep everything happening inside your body at a stable, optimal level, no matter what is going on around you on the outside. Your body works constantly to monitor the important functions and levels within it: are your hormonal levels correct? Is your temperature too high or too low? Do you need food? Do you need sleep?

When something is out of kilter within your body, the ECS kicks in to correct the problem. So if you’re too cold, you’ll start to shiver to warm your body. If you’re too hot, you’ll start to sweat to cool down. If your stomach rumbles, you know you need to eat. Homeostasis is also called the ‘Goldilocks zone’ - because everything is ‘just right’. The ECS works very precisely to maintain homeostasis and only impacts what it needs to. So, for example, if you have a problem with your digestive system, it will be activated only to regulate that issue, without affecting your immune system or reproductive hormones.

Homeostasis is essential to human health, and the ECS is an essential part of our wellbeing. Scientific studies have shown changes in ECS activity in relation to a number of different diseases, including cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and rheumatoid arthritis. Due to the effect of cannabis products on the ECS, they have rapidly become an obvious and important target for potential treatments, and lots of research is going on to find out the extent of the health benefits they may have.

As scientists have done more research in the ECS, they have discovered several conditions that could be related to a lack of naturally produced endocannabinoids, called clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD). Evidence has been found that conditions for which CECD may play a part include irritable bowel syndrome, migraines and fibromyalgia. Studies are ongoing to find out how CBD products and medical marijuana may be able to correct CECD. However, cannabinoids are being researched as potential treatments for plenty of other conditions too, not just those related to CECD, including Alzheimer’s Disease, psychiatric illnesses, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain conditions and kidney diseases, to name but a few.


How Does it React to CBD?

The other major compound found in cannabis is cannabidiol (CBD). This is what is used to create CBD products you can legally buy, such as oil or gummies. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have any properties that produce a high and doesn’t usually cause any negative effects. Though experts have not found out exactly how CBD interacts with the ECS, they do know that it doesn’t bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors the same way that THC does. Instead, it is thought that CBD inhibits endocannabinoids, such as anandamide, being broken down. This leads to a higher concentration of the endocannabinoid in the system, which in terms leads to increased feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Some scientists also posit a theory that CBD does bind to a receptor, but that receptor hasn’t yet been discovered. Either way, CBD has been proved to offer health benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive effects of THC that are often associated with it.

The endocannabinoid system is crucial for helping the body maintain homeostasis (the ‘Goldilocks zone’) and regulate processes and functions such as mood, sleep, memory, pain sensation and appetite. If cells deviate from the Goldilocks Zone, the endocannabinoid system kicks in the bring the body back into homeostasis. The endocannabinoid system can also be affected by external compounds that are found in cannabis, namely THC and CBD. CBD is especially effective in aiding the ECS by stopping the body’s naturally occurring endocannabinoids being broken down, therefore increasing their longevity within the body and thus their benefits. CBD products offer the benefits of naturally occurring compounds within cannabis, without the psychoactive effects of THC. Though there is still some way to go in finding out exactly how CBD interacts with the ECS, it’s already clear that it offers huge benefits for our health and wellbeing.

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