If your interest in CBD has brought you to our website, you’ve likely come across the term “endocannabinoid system (ECS).” And if you’re wondering just what exactly this is, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’re going to provide an overview of what it is and how using CBD can affect this important human system.
How Endocannabinoid Receptors Work
Your endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for ensuring your body is in homeostasis–that is, status quo. When you have a stressful event, sustain an injury, or become sick, it’s your ECS that releases your body’s natural cannabinoids to bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are found throughout your body in the nervous system, your internal organs, bones, and even your skin’s top layers. Once homeostasis is achieved, your ECS releases enzymes to “eat” the cannabinoids because they are no longer needed.
To give an example, let’s say you get a cut on your arm. Your ECS springs into action, releasing cannabinoids to the receptors located in the skin, your central nervous system, and even your immune system. Your central nervous system will stimulate your reflexes to make you pull away from danger. You might feel a rush of endorphins, which reduces pain and gives you the strength to get to safety even though you’re injured. Your immune system will release white blood cells, which will help fight infection, and platelets to aid in clotting and healing. And then your ECS goes to work breaking down endocannabinoids when they’ve worked their magic.
What are Phytocannabinoids?
Now that you have a pretty basic understanding of how the ECS and its receptors work, we can dive into phytocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids, simply put, are plant cannabinoids. They’re found in hemp and marijuana plants, and interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors much in the same way that your own body’s natural cannabinoids do. Phytocannabinoids can include THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, and CBC, to name a few, and in fact, more than 100 cannabinoids have been identified to date.
THC interacts directly with your CB1 and CB2 receptors, producing the “high” feeling that many experience. This high occurs when the ECS becomes overwhelmed, and will go away within a few hours, typically. On the other hand, while CBD does not bind directly to these receptors, it indirectly influences them and is not psychoactive like THC is. CBD can trigger your body’s reward system, which does make you feel happy in the same way that eating chocolate does (and if you ask us, we don’t think you should have to choose one or the other!).
Why Use CBD?
If your body already produces cannabinoids, why use CBD? That’s a great question! Research has found that people who suffer a deficiency in their ECS are likely those who suffer chronic pain and fatigue, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and other health issues. If a person’s body doesn’t produce enough natural cannabinoids to return to homeostasis, some outside help with phytocannabinoids such as CBD could be the answer. But even if an ECS deficiency isn’t the case, using CBD to help short-term issues such as pain, inflammation, insomnia, and stress could be helpful to some people.