At some point during the early years of your education, you learned how your body works. You learned about the many key operating systems that you need to survive, including your circulatory system, digestive processes, and respiratory system. You also learned how these many vital processes are regulated by your central nervous system. It’s quite likely that you entered adulthood believing you had learned everything you need to know.
It could interest you to know that there is one vital regulatory system you may not be aware of, a network of messengers and receptors regulating nearly every vital process of your body. This crucial communication network is called your endocannabinoid system.
Named for the Plant Guiding Researchers to Their Discovery
Your endocannabinoid system was named for the plant species that led to its discovery, cannabis. As an herbal remedy, cannabis has been used throughout the centuries to treat an extensive list of health concerns.
While our ancestors recognized the benefits of cannabis, they did not understand why cannabis was beneficial for so many seemingly unrelated conditions. The knowledge of the many medicinal uses of cannabis was passed down throughout history based on empirical evidence, observation, and documentation. Consider the following:
- 2,737 BCE Emperor Shen Neng of China recorded the use of cannabis for medical purposes
- 2,000-800 BCE dried cannabis is mentioned in the sacred Hindu text Atharvaveda (Science of Charms)
- 130-200 CE Greek Physician Galen prescribes marijuana for medical use
- 1523 French physical Rabelais mentions the medical effects of marijuana
- 1840 Cannabis preparations are available in America
The Unexpected Discovery of a Fascinating New Regulatory System
The beginning of our understanding of the effects of cannabis began in the 1940s when American chemist Roger Adams isolated the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) from the cannabis plant. Decades later, Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam isolated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from CBD. THC is the cannabinoid responsible for marijuana’s intoxicating effects. While these were significant discoveries, the full impact of their research would not be realized for two more decades.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that the discoveries of CBD and THC led researchers to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system. During that time, President Ronald Reagan allocated tens of millions of dollars for research to prove marijuana causes brain damage. When investigations determined that the brain was not harmed by THC, the administration chose to fund additional studies. Those subsequent studies led researchers to the first endocannabinoid receptor in 1988, which eventually led to the discovery of your endocannabinoid system.
Although the research into the many functions of the endocannabinoid system is still in its infancy, scientists have a much better grasp of what this system is and how it functions.
Your endocannabinoid system is a complex network of messengers (neurotransmitters) and receptors that are essential to the function of every vital process in your body. Some of the many functions regulated by your endocannabinoid system include:
- Pain perception
- Immune system function
- Moods and emotions
- Cardiovascular function
- Functions of the digestive system
- Memory and learning
- Immune system function
- Sleep cycle regulation
- Muscle movement
- Metabolism and thermal regulation
- Stress responses
- Reproductive functions
This fascinating network of messengers and receptors is essential to your survival. Many researchers now believe that your endocannabinoid system is responsible for homeostasis, the internal balance that all living organisms need to survive. When the internal balance is disrupted, homeostasis is the regulatory process engaged to reestablish equilibrium. When balance is restored, life continues, if not, the organism will not survive.
The Messengers and Receptors of Your Endocannabinoid System
If researchers had not located the receptors that respond to cannabis, they never would have discovered that your body creates its own cannabinoids. The two main cannabinoids produced in your body are 2-AG and anandamide. Anandamide was discovered in 1992 by Dr. Lumir Hanus and researcher William Devane. This team also discovered the cannabinoid 2-Ag a short time later.
While these key cannabinoids perform a variety of functions, anandamide is shown to alleviate pain, while 2-AG inhibits the inflammation associated with stress. These vital cannabinoids are made as needed and broken down quickly by enzymes. 2-AG and anandamide interact with the receptors of your endocannabinoid system. The receptors of your endocannabinoid system include:
While CB1 receptors can be found throughout your body; they are most concentrated in your brain and spinal cord. The CB1 receptors in your amygdala influence your memories and emotions, while the CB1 receptors in your hypothalamus influence your metabolism and energy levels. CB1 receptors are also found in nerve endings.
Your CB2 receptors are found in the highest concentration in your peripheral nervous system. Your peripheral nervous system extends from your brain and spinal column to other areas of your body. CB2 receptors regulate muscle movement, organ function, and the processes of your immune system, which is how CB2 receptors minimize inflammation when they are activated.
The cannabinoids created in your body are called endocannabinoids, endo meaning created within. The cannabinoids in cannabis are exogenous cannabinoids, meaning from a source outside your body. Exogenous cannabinoids are found abundantly in cannabis plants.
The functions of your endocannabinoid system are crucial to your health and well being. Researchers today believe that many difficult to treat health conditions are the result of endocannabinoid deficiencies.
Hemp CBD Supplements the Messengers of Your Endocannabinoid System
Hemp CBD is a natural dietary supplement that can protect you from the consequences of endocannabinoid deficiencies. Just like you would take calcium to fortify your bones, or glucosamine to protect your joints, you can use hemp oil to supplement the processes regulated by your endocannabinoid system.
This is a significant discovery. Under the strain of illness, stress, or injury your body may need more endocannabinoids than it can produce. When there are not enough messengers to interact with the endocannabinoid receptors the communication processes can deteriorate.
The cannabinoids in CBD mimic the effects of your naturally occurring cannabinoids, plus the effects of exogenous cannabinoids are stronger and longer lasting than anandamide and 2-AG. By interacting with the receptors of your endocannabinoid system, hemp CBD is shown to provide significant health and wellness benefits.
CBD oil is not a medication. It is not a cure for any medical disorder. CBD is a dietary supplement with the potential to support the functions of your endocannabinoid system. The many reported benefits of CBD are based on laboratory tests, animal studies, case studies, and the testimonies of those who claim health and wellness benefits from using CBD products.
Available to Anyone Interested in Endocannabinoid Support
CBD is just one of the 113 non-psychoactive and potentially beneficial cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Many people are initially concerned when they learn that CBD is extracted from cannabis, but there is no cause for alarm. There are two potential sources. CBD (Cannabidiol) is found abundantly in hemp and marijuana. The CBD from hemp will not cause intoxication. That’s because hemp CBD does not contain high levels of THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive effects, the euphoria, that marijuana is known for.
While marijuana CBD contains 5-30 percent THC, hemp derived CBD contains only trace amounts. It’s the .3 percent THC (or less) content that differentiates the two plants. Most of the CBD products you will find online are processed from industrial hemp. Since hemp oil cannot cause intoxication, it is available to anyone interested in endocannabinoid supplementation.
Your endocannabinoid system was discovered because scientists were curious about the effects of cannabis on the brain. Investigating the effects of THC prompted the discovery of the endocannabinoid receptors, the cannabinoids produced by the body, and the significance of endocannabinoid supplementation.
CBD mimics the effects of the neurotransmitters produced in your body and interacts with the receptors of your endocannabinoid system. For more information about the many potential benefits of hemp CBD, visit CBDistillery to download The Ultimate CBD User Guide. We offer a quality assortment of non-psychoactive CBD tinctures, capsules, topical products and CBD pet products.