The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex body system made of neurotransmitters known as endocannabinoids. It is responsible for regulating and controlling a wide variety of body functions like memory, sleep, pain, temperature, inflammatory and immune response, and even emotions. The ECS is connected to cannabinoid receptors throughout the peripheral and central nervous systems.
Despite its late discovery, estimated to be about 1988, experts believe that the ECS might be linked to even broader functioning of the body and might be capable of controlling cognitive and physiological processes such as pregnancy, fertility, the immune system, and even memory.
Mechanism of Action of the ECS
Even though the precise functioning of the ECS remains unclear, medical researchers believe that it is through seamless interactions with endocannabinoids, receptors (CB1 and CB2), as well as enzymes. It is a never-ending web of constant communication by transferring signals from one part of the body to the brain to trigger the right reaction, such as pain, moods, anxiety, and appetite.
What are Endocannabinoids?
Endocannabinoids are natural chemical compounds produced by the body’s nerve cells. They were first identified in the cannabis plant, prompting serious research on what triggers the psychoactive effects of cannabis. They are responsible for regulating various body processes like immunity, stress, mood, pain, and even memory. It is believed that there are two types of endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Since the body naturally produces these compounds on-demand upon the activation of the endocannabinoid receptors, it is impossible to establish their concentration level.
The Role of Endocannabinoid Receptors
The endocannabinoid receptors are responsible for transferring signals from various parts of the body to the brain resulting in the right immune response. There are usually two main types; the CB1 receptors, which are mainly concentrated in the central nervous system, especially the brain mainly control the psychoactive effects of chemical compounds and the CB2 receptors in the immune system to determine the ideal response to the effects of other cannabinoids. Upon binding with the receptors, the endocannabinoids trigger a reaction depending on the type of receptor to restore your body’s homeostasis.
The Role of Enzymes in the ECS.
These proteins act as catalysts in breaking down endocannabinoids after executing their respective functions. They are classified into two; the monoacylglycerol acid lipase that works on the 2-arachidonogylgkyerol (2-AG) and fatty acid amide hydrolase, which is responsible for breaking down anandamide (AEA) endocannabinoids.
How Does THC Interact With the ECS?
More than 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, Tetrahydrocannabinol, popularly known as THC, is one of the most prominent after cannabidiol (CBD). It is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis that result in one getting high whenever they smoke weed. This happens when THC interacts with the endocannabinoid system through binding with the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Its ability to bind with both receptors enables it to trigger various effects to the body and mind, such as reducing pain increasing appetite while at the same time causing anxiety or paranoia in some instances. Some of the not-so-desirable effects of this interaction have been of great concern by authorities, but experts are working on mechanisms through which THC-ECS interaction could only be beneficial and free from side effects.
How does CBD Interact With the ECS?
The therapeutic benefits inform the soaring interest and demand for CBD (Cannabidiol). Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive and is not associated with any severe side effects. As a result, it is currently used to manage a wide range of medical conditions such as pain and anxiety. Even though the exact interaction between CBD and the endocannabinoid system remains debatable, most experts believe it is different from THC.
Most study findings argue that CBD-ECS interactions prevent the breaking down of endocannabinoids, which helps boost their levels in the body. Some experts disagree, arguing that there are some other yet-to-be-discovered receptors that CBD binds with and not just CB1 and CB2. More targeted research is ongoing to unravel this mystery.
What About Endocannabinoid Deficiency?
Endocannabinoid deficiency is a condition that results from the failure of the body to release sufficient cannabinoids naturally. This phenomenon was first explored in 2004 after researchers connected brain-related disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to deficiencies of acetylcholine and dopamine, respectively. Therefore an access drop of endocannabinoid levels can cause neurological disorders.
Considering the endocannabinoid system’s significant role in maintaining the body’s homeostasis, an endocannabinoid deficiency is likely to cause low pain tolerance, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, bad mood, and even worse sleep.
It can also lead to high levels of depression and anxiety. Different factors can trigger a deficiency, especially environmental and genetic. Even though more research is needed to determine the effects of endocannabinoid deficiency, it is evident that having the right levels of endocannabinoids in the body is critical in ensuring a healthy lifestyle.
What is the Treatment Potential of Endocannabinoid Deficiency?
It is possible to fix endocannabinoid deficiency. Note that it is not a disease but a condition that can easily be rectified through natural remedies. The following are some of the recommended fixes.
- Consume Omega-3 Fatty Acids: CB1 receptors contain Omega-3 as building blocks. Therefore consuming food and supplements that contain it is your first step towards restoring your endocannabinoid levels. They are most prevalent in many legumes and seeds, including hemp seeds that are believed to contain a 1:3 ratio of Omega 3 and fatty acids, respectively.
- Go Slow on the Brown Bottle and Stress: The growth and repair of your endocannabinoid receptors may be slowed down by alcohol. Therefore, it is recommended that you reduce your consumption to manageable levels to enable receptors to process your body’s cannabinoids optimally. Furthermore, if your body generates large volumes of stress-inducing cortisol, the proper functioning of CB1 receptors may be affected.
- Work Out: You do not need to hit the gym daily to exercise. Any form of physical activity helps clear your mind of stress as you keep fit. Exercises can also boost your sleep quality and boost your moods.
- Take CBD: Studies have shown that CBD helps improve the body’s overall functioning through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. Its neuroprotective characteristics are important in restoring the body’s endocannabinoid levels. This eventually leads to better sleep, low-stress levels, improved overall wellness and health of the body due to proper functioning of the ECS.
The human body is a mystery that is continuously being discovered. The endocannabinoid system is critical to the proper functioning of the body and, therefore, must be in optimal functioning at all times. To guarantee the perfect homeostasis of the body and boost its reaction to external stimuli, CBD-infused products and other supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids and exercises can come in handy. Note that hemp-extract CBD is legal in all USA, containing 0.3% THC levels.