The Endocannabinoid System – The Body’s Great Conductor
The Endocannabinoid system is as old as mammals walking the earth, but it wasn’t until the 1990’s that it was realized. The basic components found were a set of cannabinoid receptors called CB1 and CB2, the endogenous cannabinoids that our body makes, and the enzymes which make and break down those endocannabinoids.
Why does the Endocannabinoid System matter?
Many scientists and researchers have found that, when everything in the body works as it should, the Endocannabinoid System is there to maintain that homeostasis (balance) within all the systems. Much like a conductor in a symphony keeping the various groups of instruments on time and in synch, the ECS is signaled when things are “off-kilter” and need attention.
According to experts, the ability for the ECS to leap into action has to do with “tone”.
“The tone of the ECS can be altered by genetics, stress, nutrition, medications, pollution, environmental toxins and aging,” say medical doctors and endocannabinoid specialists The Knox Docs. “These common ECS disruptors can affect any of the system’s foundational components – the cannabinoid receptors, endogenous cannabinoids and the enzymes responsible for breaking them down – to weaken ECS tone and lead to ECS dysfunction.”
Because the components and systems are affected by this domino-like result, when the ECS and its functionality are weakened, the experts say many issues can manifest.
“Physiologically, receptors act as communications traffic cops, precisely positioned in synaptic regions.” explained Dr. Alger in his 2013 review. (2)
The Knox Doctors echo this in their own writings, stating that the ECS is “central to the body’s very ability to function and its feedback loops tightly control and balance vital signaling patterns throughout.”
How does the Endocannabinoid System do this?
The main components found in the ECS are: the receptors CB1 and CB2, the Endogenous cannabinoids that our body makes, and the enzymes to make them and break them down when finished.
These are designed to be a part of the making of the endocannabinoids and the breaking of them once their job has completed.
Endo means that the body makes them within itself, so endocannabinoids are the compounds our system makes to match the receptors throughout the body. The endocannabinoids made by our body include Anandamide (AEA) and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Most people know Anandamide as “the bliss molecule”. It is a fatty acid neurotransmitter that can bind to both receptors. 2-AG can also bind to both receptors, but it is found in abundance throughout the central nervous system.
“Many people are surprised to learn that our bodies produce their own cannabinoids, but the very existence of cannabinoid receptors demanded their existence as well.” – The Knox Docs.
Endocannabinoid system receptors are located throughout the body but CB1 and CB2 each have areas where they are most dominant.
“CB1 is a neuromodulating receptor and the most plentiful type in the brain and central nervous system. It is also found in the pituitary gland, immune cells, pancreas, liver, GI tract, skeletal muscles, heart, skin, reproductive system and fat tissue,” explains The Knox Docs. “CB2 is an immunomodulating receptor, found primarily in immune tissues. CB2 is found in blood-forming cells, the pancreas, liver, brainstem and throughout the peripheral nervous system” (1).
Where CB1 and CB2 receptors are located, and which compounds they respond to, is the very basis of cannabinoid wellness and which compounds are often best aligned with various effects.
“Too few or too many of these receptors can affect ECS tone and indicate ECS dysfunction” explains The Knox Docs and it is that “too many” or “too few” of the receptors that is precisely the idea behind Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency.
Studied over several years and with multiple researchers and teams, the idea of Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD) is based in the understanding of the work executed by the ECS itself, and all that work seems to be attached to.
“In the past decade, the endocannabinoid system has been implicated in a growing number of physiological functions, both in central and peripheral nervous systems, and in peripheral organs,” stated a team of researchers for the Pharmacological Review in 2006. “Modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system turned out to hold therapeutic promise in a wide range of disparate diseases and pathological conditions” (3).
These ideas were echoed in 2016 by Dr. Ethan Russo in his paper titled Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered. In his work, Dr. Russo suggests that “issues such as migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel and other treatment resistant syndromes” can be linked to issues with the Endocannabinoid System.
Dr. Russo, as an example, compared the levels of endocannabinoids in patients who deal with migraine. In those who endure the troubling issue, Dr. Russo found that they had “statistically significant differences”. Shown after spinal fluid analysis, migraine sufferers in his study had much lower amounts of Anandamide – a cannabinoid made by the body. Other findings by Dr. Russo suggests that, as ECS function decreases, what followed was “a lower pain threshold, derangements of digestion, mood and sleep” (4).
Enter: Plant Cannabinoids
Because our body’s system works with either the endogenous cannabinoids it makes, or with plant-made cannabinoid compounds found in the Cannabis family of plants, there are many people who can benefit from cannabinoid-based wellness items like CBD products.
As the AEA and 2-AG can line up to CB1 and CB2, so can CBD, THC and any number of the hundreds of other cannabinoids. When someone enjoys CBD, those compounds go towards the receptors they most align with.
THC has been found to be most attracted to CB1 receptors whereas CBD tends to hunt out CB2 receptors. CBG, another non-psychoactive cannabinoid in hemp, has been found to be able to bind to either receptor and be a great helper with the work that CBD has set out to do.
These plant cannabinoids act as our own, binding to the receptors, and completing tasks until the enzymes decide the job is done.
Once the hemp (high in CBD) crop has grown and been dried, it is sent through an extraction process where these precious plant compounds are extracted and utilized in products throughout the world.
Are you considering CBD? Here are some tips!
If you’re new to cannabinoid-based wellness options like CBD, it is a good idea to remember some of these important tips.
Remember that the Endocannabinoid System is sensitive so it is always a good idea to start out slow and with a low amount. Jumping into 100mg of CBD can be too much for the system at one time. Many consumers choose to begin with amounts as small as 5 or 10 milligrams then increasing until reaching the desired result. This is to ensure you don’t take in too much which can create undesired results. That window of space between the base level of results and when you may experience undesirable results is called the “therapeutic window”. You can read more about that, HERE.
Always read through all of the information about the product you're considering including formulation, concentration (number of milligrams) and the certificates of analysis. These third-party test results let you know what cannabinoid compounds are in the product and whether it is within required compliance.
Try different delivery options as each person’s needs and desires may vary. Sublingual oils (under the tongue) tend to deliver results in minutes that can last 2 - 4 hours. Edible treats (like gummies) must go through digestion which can take up to an hour to enjoy results, however, that result can last 4 - 6 hours. It is good to be mindful of edible CBD on an empty stomach or eating too much in one sitting. Be aware of your labeling and how much you may have already consumed.
Topical creams and balms work specifically in the area in which they are applied so it will not enter your main bloodstream like oils and edibles do.This is great for those who may have simple aches or stiffness and don’t want to ingest cannabinoids.
Whether you choose to enjoy CBD or not is up to you. As you continue to try different cannabinoids, and experience how they may be beneficial in your routine, be sure to check back to our blogs for news and information and follow us on Instagram.
At Kurativ Premium CBD, we’re glad to share what we know with you so that you can feel most confident in your wellness choices.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. All readers of this content should consult their physicians before beginning or changing any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program. Representations regarding the efficacy and safety of Kurativ CBD have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease. Consult your physician prior to use.
1) The Knox Docs, Get to Know the Endocannabinoid System https://doctorsknox.com/blog/f/get-to-know-the-endocannabinoid-system
2) Alger BE. Getting high on the endocannabinoid system. Cerebrum. 2013;2013:14. Published 2013 Nov 1.
3) Pacher P, Bátkai S, Kunos G. The endocannabinoid system as an emerging target of pharmacotherapy. Pharmacol Rev. 2006;58(3):389-462. doi:10.1124/pr.58.3.2
4) Russo EB. Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Supports the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel, and Other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2016;1(1):154-165. Published 2016 Jul 1. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0009