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CBD & The Endocannabinoid System

If you’ve tried CBD products before, you’re probably well aware of the compound’s astonishing healing properties. But you might be left wondering about the science behind CBD and other cannabinoids. An overlook of the endocannabinoid system provides valuable insights into CBD’s effectiveness in targeting an array of symptoms.

What Exactly is the Endocannabinoid System?

The endocannabinoid system is an extremely influential biological system for cannabis lovers and non-cannabis users alike. Called the ECS for short, it plays a key role in many regulatory functions of the human body, along with many other mammals. 

The ECS interacts with the central nervous system, along with other functions such as the sleep cycle, metabolism, and more. 

Some of the functions of the ECS include regulation of:

  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Memory 
  • Appetite

How Does the ECS Interact with CBD?

The ECS is active and influential on the body with or without the presence of cannabinoids. However, the way in which the ECS dictates interactions with external cannabinoids is particularly interesting and unique. 

The molecules that the ECS naturally produces on its own gives insight into how CBD and other cannabinoids influence the body. Endocannabinoid molecules, short for “endogenous cannabinoid”, are in fact cannabinoids themselves. These molecules produced and processed by the ECS share striking similarities to those found in cannabis plants. 

Whereas endocannabinoids refer to substances of internal origin, CBD and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant are known as phytocannabinoids. 

It is clear that phytocannabinoids’ structural similarities to those cannabinoids produced in our own bodies explains why many people respond so positively to CBD. Just as endocannabinoids help regulate a variety of systemic responses, CBD can act as an external catalyst for the same needs, such as managing stress, pain, or a variety of other experiences.

The Role of Cannabinoid Receptors

A network of cannabinoid receptors present in the ECS are responsible for processing cannabinoids and performing a variety of regulatory functions.

These receptors primarily respond to the naturally produced endocannabinoids in our bodies. These endocannabinoids are most commonly produced in response to various stimuli, such as stress, pain, or other experiences of distress or imbalance.

Cannabinoid receptors also have the ability to respond to phytocannabinoids. When phytocannabinoids are introduced to the body, receptors in the ECS respond. The effect of CBD, THC, and any other phytocannabinoids occurs due to the presence of the ECS and its cannabinoid receptors. 

CBD’s Influence on the Body

Considering the ECS’s ability to interact with CBD, you might be left wondering what effects CBD has on the body, as well as the mind. 

CBD is just one of many phytocannabinoids, the other most well known being THC. And while many people know the marijuana-derived THC for its psychoactive effects, CBD is non-psychoactive. 

This major difference indicates that CBD likely interacts differently with the ECS. Most likely, CBD binds to cannabinoid receptors in a different manner than THC does. CBD might even prevent naturally occurring endocannabinoids from breaking down altogether, thus making these molecules have a greater effect on the body.

Ultimately, researchers are still unsure on the specifics of ECS responses, and how receptors might bind differently to different phytocannabinoids. However, CBD certainly holds unique properties that influence its interactions with ECS. 

ECS Research: A Continuing Field 

Obviously, there is still much more room for research when it comes to understanding and explaining the intricacies of the ECS. 

Although the ECS is an influential biological system, it was discovered only a few decades ago. Since its discovery by biologists in 1992, more comprehensive research on the ECS is growing as we speak. With only 30 years of knowledge on the ECS currently available, it is likely that there are far more insights to be discovered about the system.

Deepening our understanding of the ECS will hopefully contribute to a better understanding of how we can utilize phytocannabinoids as medicinal and healing tools. Hopefully, this will lead us to expanding the amazing potential of CBD even further. 

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