Endocannabinoid System: What You Need to Know
There is a growing demand for Hemp as the legality of recreational use skyrockets. We have heard of a lot of anecdotes about the use of Hemp, from medication to making useful fibers but not many know the interactions between it and the human body. Some may say that they know a lot about THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) but not many know what CBD (cannabidiol) is. And even if people know both not many know how they are able to affect the body.
As with anything that we put in our bodies, we must be informed. Informed choices are better. Informed choices ensure that we don’t harm others or ourselves. So, if you have questions, here are some of the things that you may want to know about the ECS (Endocannabinoid System).
What Is the Endocannabinoid System?
The ECS (Endocannabinoid System) is a highly complicated system of cell information transfer. The ECS was discovered by researchers in the early 1990s. While they were interested in the chemical compound THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) produced by Hemp they discovered how the body was able to interact with these chemicals.
Research into the ECS is still in its infancy. But a lot of research has pointed out that the ECS affects certain functions in the body such as memory, mood, appetite, sleep, and even reproductive capabilities and status.
How Does it Work?
The ECS has three primary pieces in its system. The three pieces of the ECS are the enzymes, the endocannabinoids, and the receptors, all of which play a crucial role in the entire process.
Before we start with the entire system it is important to note why the ECS exists in the first place. The ECS is built to interact with endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids are chemical compounds that are, chemically, almost the same as cannabinoids such as THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol) but are produced by the body. Yes, endocannabinoids are produced by the body and it would be fitting that the body creates a system for its use such as the ECS.
There are two primary endocannabinoids that the body produces. The first endocannabinoid is Anandamide (AEA) and the second is 2- Arachidonoyglyerol (2-AG). Both of the compounds are responsible for making our bodywork as fluid as possible.
First, a lesson in Biology, a receptor is akin to a lock. Keys are the chemical compounds that the receptors interact with. If a specific chemical compound binds with a receptor then a function is engaged.
Your body has millions of receptors around your body. Each receptor interacts with endocannabinoids such as THC and CBD. When an endocannabinoid compound latches onto a receptor, the ECS performs a function.
There are a couple of variations to the endocannabinoid receptor but the two main receptors that most people are concerned about are the CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptor is found mostly in our central nervous systems such as the brain and the spinal cord. The CB2 receptor is found in our peripheral nervous system.
Endocannabinoids can choose to attach themselves to either of the receptors. The ECS acts depending on the site or where the receptor is. A brief example is that if an endocannabinoid attaches itself to a CB1 receptor (near the brain) then it could suppress pain. If the endocannabinoid attaches to a CB2 then it might provide an anti-inflammatory response.
Once the ECS has done its job and a function is made, then the body needs to throw away the endocannabinoids lest there be a surplus of these chemicals.
The way the body disposes of the endocannabinoids is through enzymes. The enzymes break down the endocannabinoids once their roles has been fulfilled. The two main enzymes in the body responsible for the task of breaking down endocannabinoids are the fatty acid Amide Hydrolase (for breaking down AEA) and Monoacylglycerol Acid Lipase (for breaking down 2-AG)
All three pieces work hand in hand for the entire ECS to work and for our body to do its job without any problems.
How Does THC Interact with ECS?
THC is the most popular of the many compounds found in Hemp. THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol, a cannabinoid, is much like the endocannabinoids that we find in our body (the word endo being within our body). THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects that Hemp is known for. In short, THC is what makes people “high.”
Much like the endocannabinoids, THC is able to bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Once THC binds to an endocannabinoid receptor, it elicits the same response that the ECS would do. The universality of THC to bind with both of the primary receptors give it the ability to respond to a wide variety of issues. Such issues that THC may address are recurring pain, anxiety or stress.
How Does Hemp Oil Interact with ECS?
Hemp oil has a lot of medical properties. Hemp has less than 0.3 percent THC and thus relies strongly with the CBD. Seeing that CBD has a lot of positive effects to the body without the negative consequence, Hemp oil elicits the same positive response from the ECS by virtue of its high CBD content.
How Does CBD Interact with ECS?
Another cannabinoid found in Hemp is CBD or Cannabidiol. Many people refer to CBD as the “good cannabinoid.” The moniker comes from the fact that CBD does not create any psychoactive effects. CBD does not make anyone “high.” While having no psychoactive effects, CBD still possesses many of the great characteristics of THC.
One key difference of CBD from THC and other endocannabinoids is that CBD does not bind with both of the major receptors. CBD does not elicit a response from the ECS the same way THC and endocannabinoids do since it does not bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CBD’s Indirect Effects on the Endocannabinoid System
Research into how CBD affects the body has led many to believe that CBD prevents the body from disposing of the endocannabinoids. Preventing the endocannabinoids from being broken down, thus a surplus of it in the body, is what recreates the effects of THC without any negative impact or psychoactivity.
What About Endocannabinoid Deficiency?
Multiple types of research have created a theory known as CECD or Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency. The theory says that low levels of endocannabinoid in the body may cause problems for the ECS. Research into CECD is still in its infancy so a lot more needs to be made before we can be sure of its mechanisms and effects.