Understanding the Endocannabinoid System

Understanding the Endocannabinoid System

One of the most common questions we hear about CBD is "Why does it seem to help with so many different ailments that seem completely unrelated?”. The answer is simple, because humans, like all mammals, have an endocannabinoid system. Unlike other systems in our bodies like the skeletal, central nervous or respiratory systems, the endocannabinoid system is difficult to depict in a diagram because it is comprised of microscopic, sub cellular proteins, enzymes & receptors which exist in various concentrations throughout the human body.  

The name stems from endogenous (substance or process originating from within an organism, tissue or cell) and cannabinoid (named for the plant, cannabis, responsible for its discovery). It is estimated that the endocannabinoid system present in all mammals evolved in primitive animals over 600 million years ago.

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is comprised of 3 main components:

  1. Endocannabinoids - the fatty acid based particles anandamide (AEA) and and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These two compounds are known as agonists and bond with the receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Think of them as keys or messengers that unlock the receptors and let the cells know what to do. 
  2. Cannabinoid Receptors - CB1 & CB2 receptors are present in nearly all human tissue and are believed to be the more numerous than any other receptor system in the human body. CB1 receptors are concentrated in the brain, central & peripheral nervous system as well as organs, glands & connective tissue. CB2 receptors are concentrated in the immune system and associated tissue. Think of these receptors as locks.
  3. Enzymes that are responsible for the synthesis and degradation of the endocannabinoids themselves. There are 2 main players, fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL).  These enzymes, particularly FAAH, are responsible for breaking down excess endocannabinoids within the system, specifically AEA.

 

The endocannabinoid system is considered to "exist" when endocannabinoids, enzymes and at least one receptor type are all present in the same tissue. This co-localization is most common in the brain, organs, central and peripheral nervous system, connective tissue, the immune system and glands.

The primary function of the ECS is to promote homeostasis (the tendency of organisms to auto-regulate and maintain stable, balanced environment). In fact, the name anandamide is rooted in Sanskrit and means "bliss molecule". Cannabinoids work to create homeostasis from the sub-cellular level outward to organs, systems and organisms themselves. This noble quest may explain why cannabinoids are thought to have an impact on ill health & dysfunction across such a broad range of ailments from mood and stress to appetite, energy, support of the immune system and even an individuals perception of and relationship with his/her community and environment. Through the process of monitoring and mediating neurogenesis (growth and development of nerve tissue) and learning, cannabinoids are even thought to help people break down and move past limiting thought patterns opening whole new social and environmental opportunities. Given the ubiquitous nature and apparent impact of of the system, it is no wonder that the ECS is considered by many in the scientific community to be a bridge between body and mind.

 

 

Given this information, one thing is clear; having a healthy, fully functioning endocannabinoid system is essential in maintaining physical and mental health.  Adding a high quality CBD supplement to your diet is a great way to boost your ECS. The reason for this is that most people do not naturally produce enough endocannabinoids to maintain homeostasis. This may be due to stress, diet, toxins in the environment or a combination of these elements. Unlike THC which plugs into the receptors and makes the signal murky, CBD works around the receptors to create more anandamide (AEA). CBD does this by blocking the enzyme FAAH from breaking down the AEA which frees up more AEA to do its job within the endocannabinoid system thereby promoting homeostasis. Since the body naturally creates its own endocannabinoids (AEA & 2-AG) with the help of fatty acids, adding fatty acids like Omega-3, 6 or 9 to your diet will promote the body's generation of AEA and 2-AG.  

Here's where it gets really good. Not only does Seven Points CBD use fresh, high quality hemp extract rich in CBD, we use organic hempseed oil which is high in omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. This means that you get all the benefits of adding CBD directly to the ECS while giving your body the essential fatty acids it needs to create more if its own endocannabinoids. 

 

Talk about a win-win situation!

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