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The Endocannabinoid System 101

Endocannabinoid System 101

So, what is CBD?  How does it help? What does it do?  These are the most common questions surround CBD with it’s recent surge in popularity.  Many people just see it as the stuff in Marijuana that does not get you high, this unfortunately is not giving a clear picture of what CBD is and how it works.  CBD can and does work for many people, the reason is something most have no idea about, its call the Endocannabinoid System.

Part 1: What is CBD?

Let’s clear the air about what CBD is…

Before jumping into what the Endocannabinoid System is, let’s first clear the air of what CBD is.  A common misconception is that CBD just marijuana without the high. That’s not really it. The truth is, CBD can come from either marijuana or hemp, which while they come from the same species of plant are different by a very important measure.  

The most significant and legal difference between hemp and marijuana is the amount of THC in each, THC is the psycho-active cannabinoid found in marijuana that causes the high every one associates with marijuana.  Hemp by definition has less than the legal limit to be classified as hemp of 0.3%. Marijuana on the other hand can have upwards of 20% to 30% THC content. So the 0.3% or less THC found in hemp is not enough to cause any high or have psycho-active effects.  As mentioned, CBD can be found in both hemp and marijuana, however, CBD to be legal has to come from hemp and contain less than 0.3% THC, so the CBD you find on the store shelves is derived from hemp. CBD that comes from marijuana will contain too much THC, marijuana with it’s high THC counts also typically has lower CBD counts than that of hemp.  

Hemp vs. Marijuana
Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids, but they are just two of over 100 known cannabinoids to be found in cannabis.  Both hemp and marijuana naturally have cannabinoids, the exact mix of cannabinoids can change based on the specific stain, genetics, and environmental factors.  CBD is just one cannabinoid, but it is one of the key ones that has been found to offer potential to so many by the specific properties and symptoms it has helped many with.  Some other of the most well known and prominent cannabinoids include CBG, CBN, CBC among the many others. Each cannabinoid has it’s own unique profile and may help with different set of ailments or have its own effects on the body.  

Click Here for more information on the differences between hemp and marijuana. 

Part 2: How CBD Interacts in the Body

With all the buzz about CBD shops and what seems to be a new CBD store or multi-level marketing plan coming out each month, with all the hype out there does CBD really help and how?  

The answer is yes, it can and does help many, many people.  The reason CBD can help is that our bodies have what is called an Endocannabinoid System.  This system, only taught in less than approximately 20% of medical schools in the United States, it is considered by many as the body’s 12th system.  Many of these systems are ones that most of us are familiar with, including the circulatory, respiratory, reproductive and digestive systems among others. They all play a very vital function in our bodies, but unfortunately many have not heard of the endocannabinoid system.

It’s the latest system that has been identified, so one of the key reasons for this was it was that it was not until the early 1990’s.  It was Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who is considered the godfather of cannabinoid research dating back to the 1960’s, discovered the Endocannabinoid system, while studying the effects THC has on the brain when he stumbled across this system.

Why is the endocannabinoid system so important and why should we be teaching about it to everyone? Everyone should know about it because It is an important and vital piece in helping your body maintain homeostasis.  When your body is out of homeostasis it is when so many issues and disease can begin to occur. The Endocannabinoid System is a major part and natural tool the body has built in to help it maintain homeostasis, your body has receptors that bind with cannabinoids and it even produces its own cannabinoids that are called “Endocannabinoids”.  

The Endocannabinoid System is a regulatory system, it is very important to keep your body in homeostasis because if the wrong body conditions suffice for long periods of time certain processes and proteins will not function properly.  Conditions that must be controlled include body temperature, blood sugar level, and water content, so if your body is not in homeostasis we see ailments such as anxiety, pain, insomnia, and many other significant conditions, which are some of the most common issues many people seeking CBD are looking for relief from.

Part 3: Endocannabinoid System 101

As mentioned, the Endocannabinoid System is a regulatory system that is made up of three key principle pieces in our bodies.

  1. Cannabinoid Receptors
  2. Cannabinoids, which some are produced naturally by our bodies (endocannabinoids) and others may come from external sources such as plants (hemp), which are called phyto-cannabinoids.
  3. Lastly, there are the enzymes that synthesize and metabolize these cannabinoids to break them down.  

To get an overview of the Endocannabinoid System, we will really focus on the first two.  Cannabinoid receptors are present throughout our body and in cell membranes and are believed to be more numerous than any other receptor system in our body.  Research has identified two cannabinoid receptors which are the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

  • CB1 Receptors
    Predominantly present in the nervous system, connected tissues, gonads, glands and organs.  

  • CB2 Receptors
    Receptors are predominantly found in the immune system and its associated structures.  

Endocannabinoid System Receptors
Many tissues contain both CB1 and CB2 receptors, each linked to a different reaction. Since CBD is a cannabinoid and we have receptor sites designed to receive cannabinoids the answer is clear why so many are getting relief when using CBD products.

In short, the oversimplified description of the Endocannabinoid System is that as a regulatory system, the ECS helps the body maintain homeostasis by identifying what and where something is wrong.  It activates it’s receptors, when the endocannabinoids have done their job it breaks them down and synthesizes them. So the ECS actives the healing process regulates the healing process, then once the cannabinoids have brought whatever the issue or pain point was back into homeostasis it begins to shut down the healing process correctly, which is very important because if the body begins to heal but does not know when to shut down the healing process it can cause significant problems.  

While our bodies produce their own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, also taking external cannabinoids such as that from full spectrum hemp extract will help stimulate and open receptors in the ECS.