The Endocannabinoid System: Promoting Balance in the Body

If you have ever consistently used a quality CBD product, chances are you have experienced first-hand how this phytocannabinoid promotes physiological balance and overall sense of well-being. For those who want to know how it is working in your body, or if you want to understand the science behind it a little better before trying it, here is a brief introduction to the endocannabinoid system.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a physiological network of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids. The two primary receptors, CB1 and CB2 are widespread in the body and found mainly in the brain and nervous system.

CB1 and CB2 are G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) that reside on the surface of cell membranes. GPCRs receive chemical messages delivered by hormones and neurotransmitters and mediate the actions taken by the cell in response to the information received concerning the physiological environment.

 In the ECS, these messages are delivered by the endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids, or endogenous (internal) cannabinoids, are endogenous lipids, the most well understood being anandamide and 2-arachindonylglycerol.

How Does It Promote Balance?

The ultimate goal of the ECS is homeostasis, or maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment. Endocannabinoids deliver information about that external environment to the cell and help regulate its response. Scientists have observed impacts upon a myriad of physiological processes including appetite, energy balance, motor function, analgesia, sleep, mood, memory, and more. Having discovered the ECS in the late 1980s, researchers have only just begun to understand its innerworkings, and there is much still to be learned. It is clear, however, that its role in maintaining human health is of paramount importance.

What Role Do the Cannabinoids Play?

Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana, the most well-known being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).  THC binds directly to the CB1 receptors in the brain, causing overstimulation and the resulting psychoactive high. Things get a little murkier when it comes to CBD, however. Instead of binding to the cannabinoid receptors, CBD seems to upregulate endocannabinoids and increase their efficacy in maintaining homeostasis through regulation of the processes mentioned above.  Researchers continue to seek a deeper understanding of how CBD impacts the ECS, but evidence continues to support a positive role with heavy implications for CBD as a health-bolstering compound.

Looking to support your internal homestasis? Make CBD a part of your healthy lifestyle to promote your own balance.

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