A lot of people are asking: “How can CBD offer such a wide variety of powerful results for things ranging from anxiety, neurodegeneration, to even auto-immune disorders?” The answer lies not so much in CBD (Cannabidiol) itself, rather how CBD is working to augment the Endocannabinoid system (ECS). The Endocannabinoid System (endo meaning ‘within’) is a biological system focused on mediating physiological balance, fundamentally known as homeostasis. Some of the first homeostatic functions we often hear from clients are a better night’s sleep, regulated appetite, and reduced anxiety. These are a few of the first indicators that the CBD is kicking in and starting to help boost our natural production of endocannabinoids.
An Endocannabinoid System can be found in all living beings with vertebrae. Scientists have estimated that the ECS, bridging mind and body, was discovered over 600 million years ago. Although the ECS is seemingly ancient, modern man has just started to scratch the surface in this arena of health and science. The ECS is one of, if not the most influential system in the body that works to keep other bodily systems (endocrine, immune, muscular, etc.) in check and balance. By acknowledging that our human bodies have receptors specifically designed to absorb cannabinoids (made by our own bodies or found in various foods and plants) is a clear indicator that CBD and our Endocannabinoid system has a long line of exploration, with a ring of promise for people with severe chronic illness as well as everyday preventative maintenance. To understand the basic functionality of this system, there are 3 important components to consider.
  1. Our naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors.
  2. Our naturally produced Endogenous cannabinoids.
  3. Our metabolic enzymes which break down cannabinoids.
The most commonly studied and first found cannabinoid receptors in the body are known as CB1 and CB2 receptors. Although both receptors are found throughout the body, CB1 is one of the most commonly found receptors in the brain, whereas CB2 is located more so outside the central nervous system. These receptors camp out on the surface of cells waiting to be fed information outside the cell to then be transformed and passed along, igniting the appropriate cell response.
Endocannabinoids are naturally produced molecules that bind to either of the previously mentioned CB1 and/or CB2 receptors. The two major endocannabinoids are known as Anandamide and 2-AG (side note: anandamide translates to ‘bliss molecule’ in Sanskrit). The main reason CBD doesn’t produce ‘a high’ is due to the fact that it does not bind to the CB1 receptor, rather it manipulates the shape of the receptor, making it more difficult for THC to bind, disabling any sort of euphoric or dysphoric feelings. Unlike many other molecules in the body, our endocannabinoids are not stored away in reserve, rather they are produced and synthesized on demand as needed. The last major component of the ECS is the metabolic enzymes which break down our endocannabinoids to ensure they are not over active and are discarded properly once used. These two major enzymes are FAAH, which breaks down anandamide, and MAGL, which breaks down 2-AG. CBD (cannabidiol) inhibits the FAAH enzyme, which naturally increases our endocannabinoid, anandamide. Some recorded ways to naturally release anandamide is through finding what is known as our “flow state.” A common example of this would be in the midst of dancing or experiencing a ‘runners high.’ Almost every major functioning system in the body incorporates this triad of receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes that all aim toward one overarching, communal goal – homeostasis. Cannabidiol does not directly bind with either of our two main receptors, CB1 or CB2, rather it assists and boosts the production of our already naturally occurring endocannabinoids. When a cell is brought out of balance for any number of reasons, these three components of the ECS are hopefully there ready to bring the body back into its natural homeostatic nature. If your ECS is over or under-active, this can throw the entire human system into disarray. This is the golden ticket as to why CBD can help restore balance for a myriad of issues and ultimately offer a potential solution to a better quality of life.