Have you ever wondered about what the endocannabinoid system is, what it does, and how it works? The endocannabinoid system is a highly complex cell signalling system that your body uses to regulate mechanisms such as liver turnover, glucose metabolism, food intake, lipid synthesis, and more. However, past this, it’s not always clear what the endocannabinoid system is, how it works, and what it does.
As such, we have outlined some of the most important things you need to know about the endocannabinoid system (ECS) as follows; hopefully, this should help you find a suitable solution for your own health and well-being.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
Before we go any further, it’s first crucial to outline the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a specialist system in the body that plays a direct role in numerous bodily processes and functions, significantly impacting how your body works.
Indeed, the endocannabinoid system works to support your body’s standard processes, such as appetite, mood, memory, sleep quality, and fertility. This will significantly influence your overall well-being, making the ECS an important bodily process to understand.
The ECS uses two naturally-produced endocannabinoid molecules to facilitate its function: anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglyerol. Both of these compounds bind with endocannabinoid receptors throughout your body to facilitate responses, as required.
When Was the Endocannabinoid System Discovered?
The endocannabinoid system might seem like a highly influential and obvious part of our anatomy when we consider its role; however, it was only discovered in the 1990s.
One factor that often surprises many people is that the ECS was discovered by researchers looking into the properties of THC, one of the most well-known compounds in cannabis. We’ll look at the connection between the ECS and cannabis compounds a little later on.
What Does the Endocannabinoid System Do?
The ECS has an incredibly broad range of functions throughout our bodies and is directly involved in managing our natural response to several different stimuli and activities.
It is a neuromodulatory system by its nature, which alters standard nerve activity, allowing the ECS to modulate the basic function of our nervous tissues. Some of the different roles and functions of the ECS may include liver function, reproductive health, stress, skin and nerve function, sleep, motor control, learning, immune responses, and more.
As such, there are numerous different functions that the ECS is tied to; each plays a very significant role in the body. Generally speaking, the easiest way to summarize this is to say that the ECS influences homeostasis in our body. It works to restore balance when such is disturbed by factors such as hunger, exposure to pathogens, and the like. Though the exact primary function of the ECS isn’t wholly clear, current research largely suggests that this balance of homeostasis is the main goal.
Complications of Low Endocannabinoid Levels
At this point, we’ve outlined what the ECS does – but what happens when the amount of endocannabinoids in your body isn’t high enough?
Well, a 10-year study suggests that low endocannabinoid levels can lead to you developing several different health conditions, especially those that do not appear to have underlying causes, such as IBS, migraines, and fibromyalgia. Naturally, living with these conditions may severely impact your overall quality of life.
In addition, it is suggested that low endocannabinoid levels in the body can cause complications such as difficulties regulating your mood, variable sleep quality, and a lower pain threshold than normal. Fortunately, regular exercise, certain foods and probiotics, treatments such as osteopathy, and low stress levels can all be effective ways to boost your ECS.
How Does the Endocannabinoid System Interact with Cannabinoids?
At this point, we have summarized how the ECS works – but did you know that there are actually significant ties between the ECS and CBD? Indeed, the clue’s in the name: CBD is a type of cannabinoid compound.
In fact, there are numerous cannabinoids found within cannabis plants that may be capable of reacting with your ECS. The two most common and well-known of these are THC and CBD.
Though the exact mechanisms behind how CBD works in the body are unclear, research can potentially suggest links between CBD and the ECS. Notably, some people believe this may be due to CBD breaking down CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoids. However, others believe CBD may even respond to unique receptors that are currently unknown. The answer isn’t clear.
While there’s no guarantee that CBD supplements will work, they are believed to potentially be helpful in some cases for promoting better quality sleep, which can provide numerous benefits. A good night’s sleep may help reduce stress and ease anxiety while boosting your over all well being.
However, things can be a little more straightforward when it comes to the interaction of other cannabinoid compounds (including THC) with the ECS. Notably, THC can bind directly to the currently known ECS receptor sites. This means that it may be able to replicate the effects of some compounds in the ECS, resulting in its stereotypical “high” after consumption.
It’s not something that we learn about widely in biology classes until a much higher level of education – but the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, irrefutably has a big role to play in our body functions. Therefore, the ECS influences our mood, appetite, fertility, memory, sleep quality, and more. However, several compounds, including natural and artificial (synthetic) compounds, can interfere with the ECS in a similar way to our natural endocannabinoids. As the name would suggest, this includes cannabinoid compounds derived from hemp and cannabis plants.
Many people find that taking CBD supplements can help boost their sleep quality, which in turn may have several benefits on your quality of life and happiness. CBD supplements aren’t a miracle cure but they are a fantastic addition to any wellness regime along with your daily vitamins and minerals.