CBD Element

The Endocannabinoid system

Saturday, August 15, 2020 • 6 minute read

If you are researching the benefits of CBD, then we are sure you will have encountered mentions of the endocannabinoid system! It may sound like scary science but don’t worry! We at CBD Element are here to help explain what the endocannabinoid system is, and it’s relationship to the benefits of CBD, as part of our mission to provide the best information about CBD and to promote your health and wellbeing.

Let’s dive into the endocannabinoid system and why it’s important to understanding CBD’s impact on your body.

What is the endocannabinoid system?

You have heard of the central nervous system, respiratory system, and digestive system, but how familiar are you with the endocannabinoid system (ECS)? The ECS was discovered over 20 years ago and is found throughout the body as one of the most widespread and versatile signalling systems known to man.

The ECS is a messenger and receptor system integral for maintaining homeostasis, or management of balance in the body, of all animals (except insects). From embryonic development[1] to helping us fall asleep[2], there is not a single function in your body that is not modulated or controlled by the ECS. The ECS is constantly acting and reacting to stimuli modulating all the other systems in the human body.

What components make up the endocannabinoid system?

The ECS consists of three main components:

1. Cannabinoid receptors

Called CB1 and CB2, these receptors are naturally found throughout the body within the central nervous and peripheral nervous systems.

2. Endocannabinoids

These are molecules that the body naturally produce that bind onto the cannabinoid receptors to initiate an action or response, like pain. There are two key endocannabinoids, Anandamide (AEA) that is known as the ‘bliss’ molecule as it drives feelings of pleasure, and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)

3. Enzymes

These are biological molecules that produce and break down endocannabinoids in the body.

How does the endocannabinoid system work?

The ECS works through a process called retrograde signalling[3].

Retrograde signalling causes a neuron to block the release of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messages your body sends from nerves to target cells to initiate a response from the body, like pain or pleasure. Retrograde signalling is the result of endocannabinoids binding to cannabinoid receptors on the presynaptic neuron that would send this signal, but by blocking it, reducing the body’s response.

Endocannabinoids keep your neurotransmitters in check by making sure they do not fire out a response that’s overwhelming for the body. This is important in processes that create responses such as pain and inflammation, that can be caused by neurotransmitters being overactive. The ECS checks these processes and tells your body to relax, maintaining balance[4].

What impact does CBD have on the endocannabinoid system?

Cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant have a similar chemical structure to endocannabinoids. Therefore it is believed that they act similarly on the same receptors. As a result, CBD can help to maintain the ECS, and the bodily reactions that it impacts, such as pain or inflammation.

The presence of the ECS throughout the whole body explains the wide range of believed and potential benefits of CBD, as CBD’s cannabinoids are believed to be able to interact with all of the cannabinoid receptors that help to make the ECS.

How else can I do to support the endocannabinoid system towards maintaining balance within my body?

Leading a healthy and active lifestyle helps support your ECS, including:

1. Exercise

Exercising awakens the ECS by triggering the release of the chemical Anandamide in your body. Anandamide is responsible for that euphoric feeling known as ‘runners’ high[5].

2. Breathing exercises

Yogic breathing exercises or practices like the Wim Hoff technique are believed to tap into the endocannabinoid system[6].

3. Omega-3 fatty acids

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids ensures that your body has the necessary nutrients to maintain the endocannabinoid system[7].

4. Avoid alcohol

Try to minimize activities that cause imbalances[8] such as drinking too much alcohol or environments that cause stress.

5. Healthy sex life

The ECS is believed to be involved in sexual pleasure and arousal[9][10][11], so a healthy sex life is another way to tap into your endocannabinoid system.

Anything else I should know about the endocannabinoid system and CBD?

As we have made clear, CBD is not the only solution to maintaining a healthy endocannabinoid system, and a healthy lifestyle is key to maintain balance of the body and mind.

CBD Element is dedicated to bringing you the most up to date research and information on CBD, so don’t forget to check back here where we’ll add any future updates on the ongoing scientific research of CBD’s relationship with the ECS.

Don’t forget to explore CBD Element’s benefits section, where we delve into the potential benefits of CBD that rely on CBD’s interaction with the ECS, as well as our handy lifestyle tips!