Cannabinoids and The Endocannabinoid System

Cannabinoids and The ECS

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How Do Cannabinoids Effect the Endocannabinoid System?

Like many other complex concepts, the cannabis and hemp industry has its own unique language. Learning more about it can help you understand the healing properties of the plants and the benefits you could experience by adding them to your regular routine. Unlike some other simpler substances like alcohol, though, both hemp and cannabis contain hundreds of unique compounds. Each of these interacts in ways that the scientific community is just starting to grasp. The effects of cannabinoids on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) are just starting to go into larger research and discovery.

To help clear up some of the confusion that can surround the industry, we're delving into the robust and complex world of cannabinoids. You'll learn about what they are, why their components are so important, and how you can use them to potentially increase your state of bodily well-being. 

Cannabinoids Explained

Cannabinoids are compounds that are found naturally in a variety of plants including cannabis and hemp. They are also present in the human body. These fatty compounds are both produced and stored in areas of the plant known as the trichomes. Perhaps better known as crystals, they make the buds of the cannabis plant sparkle.

Cocao, Purple Coneflower and Electric Daisy are just a few of the other plants that contain cannabinoids. These compounds interact with receptors found within the central nervous system. As of this writing, two types of receptors -- CB1 and CB2 -- have been identified. 

There are three cannabinoid compounds. Endocannabinoids are produced by the human body naturally. Phytocannabinoid are found in plants. Synthetic cannabinoids are artificially manufactured. 

Of the more than 400 natural components identified in the hemp and cannabis plant, over 100 of them are cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are both the most abundant of these and the most well known. 

THC and CBD: Two Common Cannabinoids

THC is probably the best-known cannabinoid. This is the component that produces the intoxicating and mind-altering effects that are associated with the cannabis and hemp plant. At this time, THC is the only cannabinoid that has this effect naturally. 

CBD is a cannabinoid that has can relax you without the "high" feeling or intoxication. This is a primary reason why CBD has skyrocketed in popularity -- especially since each of the 50 states has made products containing CBD widely available. 

Cannabigerol: Another Important Cannabinoid

While both THC and CBD are the most well-known and popular cannabinoids, there are others that could hold the promise of other health benefits. Cannabigerol (CBG) is one such compound. 

The levels of CBG are usually less than one percent in most strains of cannabis. However, it offers some important attributes that make it noteworthy. 

CBG arises from cannabigerol acid.(CBGA) which was discovered in the 1960s. Because CBGA is the precursors three primary cannabinoids -- cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), tetrahydrocannabinoidic aic (THCA) and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA) -- it's often referred to as the cannabinoid "stem cell" or "mother." Within the cannabis plant are specific enzymes that whose job it is to break down CBGA and funnel it toward CBDA, THCA or CBCA. When these acids are exposed to ultraviolet heat or light, they become CBD, THC or CBG, respectively. 

Due to the fact that it is a non-psychotropic substance, CBG -- much like CBD -- has shown significant promise for an array of applications. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) recently announced that they would research minor cannabinoids like CBG. This step enables both scientists and the general public to gather a clearer understanding of these vital cannabinoids. Because of the exciting initial research, scientists are seeking to focus future efforts on CBG alone or in conjunction with other cannabinoids. 

Cannabinoids and the Human Body

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex network of signaling cells that produce endocannabinoids. These interact with receptors that are present throughout the human body. This system was discovered by scientists during the 1990's as they researched the effects of THC. 

Like other bodily systems, the endocannabinoid system can malfunction. Hemp and cannabis cannabinoids can imitate those that are produced naturally by the human body. Even though the research dedicated to this process is limited, there is a promising trend of cannabinoids of regulating bodily functions such as inflammation, mood, chronic pain, appetite, sleep and more. 

The Interaction Between CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

Because the research focusing on the way CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system specifically is so limited as of this writing, so far, scientists and other researchers are not sure how the two work together. Even though it is obvious that there is still much work and research that has to be done in order to understand the process more fully, the preliminary data suggest that hormone levels and the endocannabinoid molecules are related. 

That is if your hormones are not balanced for optimum functionality and balance, these the endocannabinoid molecules can also be affected. Cannabinoids, such as CBD, can provide the support your endocannabinoid system needs. CBD can do this by helping to reduce the number of endocannabinoids that are broken down in your body.

An Important Note About CBD

Even though the research developed about the positive effects of CBD so far has shown remarkable progress, it is important to be levelheaded about any symptoms you might be experiencing. Avoid self-diagnosing and enlist in the assistance of a trusted medical professional. Doing so can lead to the development of a treatment plan that might include the specific use of CBD or at least the acknowledgment of the validity of trying these compounds. 

This is primarily because the use of cannabinoids is thought to be safe for most people. However, there could be an underlying medical issue that must be teased out first. Another consideration is the interaction between CBD and any prescription medications you might be taking. 

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