UNDERSTANDING THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM (ECS) and CBD
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is vital to our bodies and our functions, and CBD can assist the ECS to perform better. Read More.
In this article, I will introduce the ECS and its components, and the history of its discovery.
I will then share with you, how CBD is of benefit to the ECS and to us.
The first thing I want to ensure you are aware of is the fact that CBD is made from the Hemp Plant and has very low psychoactive properties.
It is not made from Cannabis.
It can be made from Cannabis but the same benefits will not be experienced.
THE DISCOVERY OF THE ECS, CBD, AND CANNABINOID RECEPTORS
The hemp plant has been in our history for a long time, it has only been recently that scientists discovered that the human body makes cannabinoids and they are used by the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
It was in Israel in 1964, where the Scientist Professor Raphael Mechoulama (Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – Israel) discovered the ECS, Cannabinoids, and CBD.
This was a Scientific Breakthrough.
Professor Mechoulama continues to do a lot of research on CBD.
The following video is by Professor Mechoulama and is really worth watching if you would like to learn more about Cannabinoids.
There are some quotes at the end of this article from Professor Mechoulama.
CANNABINOID RECEPTORS AND ENDOCANNABINOIDS
The first cannabinoid receptor was found in a rat brain in 1988.
They found that the cannabinoid receptors worked exclusively with the receptors found in the cannabis compound THC.
It was noted that the cannabinoid receptors found in the rat were mostly located in the brain.
They were found in the area responsible for mental and physiological processes like memory, cognition, emotion and motor function.
In 1990 a team of Scientists led by Lisa Matsuda (at The Institute of Medicine National Academy of Sciences) started understanding the ECS some more and further research began to take place.
Lisa and her team found out that endocannabinoids and the cannabinoid receptors they stick to are located throughout the body.
They were found in the central nervous system, glands, immune cells, brain, organs, peripheral nervous system, and many different connective tissues.
These findings had the potential to take over and change the way we viewed health and wellness.
A second cannabinoid receptor was identified five years later.
This receptor was located throughout the immune system and peripheral tissues of the body, and it had the same reaction to THC as the first receptor.
The excitement was building now – these scientists were onto something amazing.
By 1995, the two cannabinoid receptors were named CB1 and CB2.
At this stage, research had yet to deliver any health benefits …. but they had revealed one amazing breakthrough…….our bodies are designed to interact with cannabinoids.
As research and technology improved, they went on to study the relationship between the cannabinoid receptors in our body (referred to as Endocannabinoids) and the cannabinoid receptors found in Cannabis compounds i.e CBD and THC (referred to as Phytocannabinoids).
ECS A.K.A THE META-SYSTEM OF THE BODY
The Endocannabinoid System is often described as a “meta-system” as it interacts and supports all of the systems in our bodies.
Just like the nervous system keeps everything connected the ECS helps to regulate physiological and cognitive processes, here is a list of some of them:
- Pre and post-natal development
- Pain Sensation
- Mediating pharmacological effects of cannabis
- Physical Exercise
- Locomotor Activity
- The motivation of Silence for rewards
- Exercise-induced euphoria (runner’s high)
WHAT DOES THE ECS TRY TO ACHIEVE?
In each part of the body, the endocannabinoid system has a different job to do, but it only has one goal in mind: to provide and maintain Homeostasis.
Homeostasis is when your body is functioning at an optimum level.
CANNABINOIDS, RECEPTORS, AND ENZYMES
A good analogy of how Cannabinoids work with Cannabinoid Receptors is like a key and lock. The Cannabinoids act as a key and the Cannabinoid Receptors are like a Lock.
So when a key fits a lock, the lock is opened.
In the body, when a Cannabinoid fits a Cannabinoid Receptor an effect occurs, that effect depends on the Cannabinoid and where it is in the body.
There are two main types of Cannabinoids found in our bodies.
The first is Anandamide and the second is 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).
2-AG is the most prevalent Endocannabinoid and is responsible for Appetite, Pain Response, and Immune System Functions.
Anandamide is responsible for our mental state. It is often called “the bliss molecule”, as it is said to be the pleasurable feeling one gets from exercise, and the ‘blissful state’ felt when doing yoga and meditation.
There is some research that suggests it also helps in apoptotic cell death (this is helping harmful cells to die) and regulate memory.
There are two main Cannabinoid Receptors.
CB1 and CB2 – they receive the messages that the Cannabinoids send.
CB1 receptors exist in the brain and spinal cord. They work to regulate appetite, memory, and to reduce pain.
CB2 receptors are mostly found in the immune system but also exist through many other areas of the body, including the gut, spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, bones, blood vessels, lymph cells, endocrine glands, and reproductive organs.
CB2 receptors are also plentiful on the skin which allows topicals treatments to have an effect on the ECS.
CB2s main role is in reducing inflammation throughout the body.
Enzymes are another important factor in the ECS.
A good way to think of them is like the cleanup crew of the ECS.
They recycle the endocannabinoids after they have been used by the body. They ensure that the Endocannabinoids get broken down and does not get used longer than it is meant to be.
There are two main Enzymes in the ECS, they are Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) and Monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL).
FAAH breaks down Anandamide and MAGL breaks down 2-AG, which keeps these two Cannabinoids balanced within the body.
Without these Enzymes, ECS would not be able to achieve Homeostasis.
THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM AND CBD
CBD comes from the hemp plant and it is now becoming recognised as being able to offer medical assistance without the psychoactive effects of THC. (you can get CBD from Marijuana but it has a high THC content and low CBD content)
Some exciting research has just revealed that the ECS not only uses endocannabinoids that our body produces but it can also use external cannabinoids, like CBD.
CBD is to ECS like Oil is to a Car, it is the substance that keeps the system running smoothly.
We have just learned that the ECS is involved in all other systems in our bodies and that all these systems need to be balanced to be working in top condition, when they are not, illness, disease, and disorders show up.
CBD helps the body to use the cannabinoids that naturally occur in our body.
When introduced to the body, CBD finds and sticks to CB1 and CB2 (there are those receptors again) and it alters the receptor to improve its functioning.
By doing this, CBD is not only helping to maintain vital bodily functions, but it is restoring Homeostasis, and as we learned before, this is the ECS’s number one goal.
So you can see CBD is very helpful to the ECS and in turn, can provide us with amazing health benefits.
The National Institute of Health has also acknowledged that by introducing cannabinoids like CBD to the body, can provide treatment to a number of illnesses.
So, If the body needs the ECS to run smoothly to be healthy, and CBD supports the ECS, it appears there are huge benefits to using CBD.
WHAT CAN CBD HELP WITH?
How many of us think our body is in Homeostasis?
I believe, that almost 80% of us would say that our bodies are nowhere near balanced and healthy.
I also believe that most illnesses, disorders, and diseases are a result of an imbalance somewhere in our body.
Consider these few health conditions below that are clearly a result of an imbalance and the ways CBD can help re-balance them:
- Stress and anxiety – caused by an imbalance of hormones or too many messages in the brain that cause your cortisol levels to increase, making you feel stressed. CBD helps to regulate those hormones and how your brain responds to stress and controls your cortisol levels.
- Inflammation – when a part of your body is swollen and hot and painful, it is inflamed. Inflammation is conditions like arthritis, bacterial infections, and autoimmune disorders. CBD reduces inflammation by suppressing inflammatory response and stimulating healthy cell production and helps to manage our pain perception.
- Seizures are caused by erratic electrical activity in the brain, causing the body to shake violently. CBD has proven to greatly reduce seizures in patients suffering from Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gaustat Syndrome, two very severe forms of epilepsy. CBD reduces seizures by slowing down certain nerve activity and making the brain less reactive to the signals causing the brain to overload.
CBD has numerous benefits which I will be going through in much more depth in my next article. It will actually blow your mind as to just how beneficial CBD can be for each and every one of us.
QUOTE FROM THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE AT THE GOOD EARTH
“We know that humans and animals have an endocannabinoid system that naturally produces cannabinoid receptor proteins throughout the body. We produce our own endogenous cannabinoids that act on the body and the human brain. The human brain has more cannabinoid (CBD) receptors (anandamides) than any other type of protein receptor. We also now know that the phytocannabinoids in cannabis match the human endocannabinoids so closely it’s almost as if the plant was created especially for us.
We believe that cannabis should be decriminalized globally to enable easy and legal access to buy CBD products here online and anywhere else. Health and wellness are a Human Right!”
GETTING CBD IN NEW ZEALAND
We have made progress here in New Zealand.
CBD is now not a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act but is now listed as prescription-only medicine.
CBD products that are allowed, must have no more than 2% THC in their content.
I do need to advise you on the current laws in NZ.
This is quoted from the Ministry of Health New Zealand:
“CBD is a substance found in cannabis that has potential therapeutic value, with little or no psychoactive properties.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is no longer a class B1 controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.
It is a prescription medicine under the Medicines Act 1981.
As with all prescription medicines, patients must have a prescription from an authorised prescriber to import or use CBD products. If you are interested in using CBD for a medical purpose, please talk to your doctor.”
There is further information on the Ministry of Health Website about CBD and the law in NZ which I recommend you read and understand (follow the link above).
I also recommend talking to your Dr and finding out if they are willing to prescribe it.
If you are in Australia, please visit The Office of Drug Control
I have recently written to the New Zealand Government, below is a copy of the email I sent.
There has been many uses and therapeutic benefits of CBD and THC over the years.
It is clear that there is a valuable relationship between The Endocannabinoid System and CBD.
What is more exciting is that research is taking place and providing some compelling evidence that THC FREE or low THC Cannabidiol (CBD Oil) can provide you with medicinal effects you need instead of using chemically man-made medicines.
There is a huge list of case studies to support CBD being a valuable treatment to a range of illnesses, disorders, and disease, and I will be going through these more specifically in future articles.
Cannabis compounds like CBD and THC don’t exist for no good reason, nor is it a coincidence that we humans have an Endocannabinoid System.
I remember when I was at school studying Human Biology, we learned all about the ‘Systems’ in our bodies, but the funny thing is we didn’t learn about the ECS! To be fair, I was already 10 years old when they found and named the first cannabinoid receptor.
I will leave you with some more quotes:
This is from the World Health Organisations report on CBD:
“CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.
Reported adverse effects may be as
a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medications.
Several countries have modified their national controls to accommodate CBD as a medicinal
To date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health-related problems
associated with the use of pure CBD.”
And these from Professor Mechoulam
Professor Raphael Mechoulama deserves a special mention due to his discovery of the Endocannabinoid System and Cannabinoids and all the work he has done and continues to do.
He was awarded many honours including the Israel Prize (2000), NIDA Discovery Award (2011) and many more.
“The medical use of cannabis and about its recreational use should be completely separate.
One really has nothing to do with the other.
Medical cannabis needs to adhere to strict medical standards, and this is still not the case as I mentioned. The recreational use of cannabis is a societal matter, so society has to decide about it.
It’s not involved with medical considerations”.
“Alcohol may be dangerous, but societies have decided that it is legal.
It is believed that life expectancy is lowered by high consumption of alcohol, but I haven’t heard that they are considering making it illegal“.
“The medicinal potential of cannabis is huge, and we should not miss out.
I believe that this potential is no longer being ignored, and that’s why I’m satisfied with the recent developments of medical cannabis policies.
I think that in the future, more and more patients will have access to medical products based on cannabis and cannabinoids.
Science will continue to accumulate data, and we will know more.
While the use of medical cannabis is undoubtedly going to expand, my hope is that it will do so in a rational way”.
I hope this article inspires you as much as CBD and Our Endocannabinoid System inspire me.
We need to share this information with everyone and I encourage you to do so. Read More
I do encourage you to visit the people at The Good Earth, they have information about other countries and their laws as well.
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If you have any questions, comments or stories of your own use of CBD and the effects you have noticed, we would love to hear from you, so message us below.