Cannabinoids & Endocannabinoids
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Of over 480 different beneficial compounds that are present in the plant, only around 66 are officially termed cannabinoids. The diversity and abundance of the compounds in cannabis plants truly make it nature’s best medicine.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the well known, important and very exciting compound that is found in the cannabis plant. We are only recently starting to realise the powerful effect it has on our bodies and are now taking advantage of its health benefits and interaction with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS).
We also have to give a special mention to all the minor cannabinoids for they have their own beneficial qualities as they are reported to work synergistically with other cannabinoids to help enhance the effect of their health benefits, interaction with the body and our endocannabinoid system.
“By using a plant that has been around for thousands of years, we discovered a new physiological system of immense importance. We wouldn’t have been able to get there if we had not looked at the plant.” ~ Mechoulam
30 years ago, scientists discovered through the cannabis plant, the endogenous cannabinoid system which has been found as one of the most important physiological systems involved in maintaining our internal body health. It is active in your body even if you do not use cannabis products which is nature’s little hint that we are made for each other!
Firstly, when it comes to understanding the endocannabinoid system, it helps to understand the concept of ‘homeostasis’ which we will help explain for you. The definition of homeostasis simply refers to the state of steady internal, physical, and chemical conditions maintained by our biological living systems to maintain a stable environment (so our bodies can feel good!). The endocannabinoid system is thought to act like a dimmer switch, kicking in whenever there is too much or too little cellular activity occurring in your body, regulating it back to balance. There are many benefits to maintaining a stable internal environment but if left unstable, can lead to many issues and impaired health symptoms.
Our system is made up of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors which helps regulate many of our important biological functions. There are two main endocannabinoid receptors:
~ CB1 receptors, which are mostly found in the central nervous system as well as some through the lungs, kidney, liver, fat and heart
~ CB2 receptors, which are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells which plays an inherent important role in pain, inflammation and physiological defence mechanisms
Generally speaking, the CB1 and CB2 receptors provide a healing effect when activated within the areas of the body they are located. The function of endocannabinoids and their receptors is to maintain homeostasis by reversing damage in whatever way possible it can provide returning it to homeostasis. Endocannabinoids are naturally produced in the body and CBD supplementation increases the amount of endocannabinoids present in the body.
Research has linked the Endocannabinoid system to the following processes:
~ Appetite and digestion
~ Chronic pain
~ Cell proliferation
~ Inflammation and other immune system responses
~ Learning and memory
~ Motor control
~ Cardiovascular system function
~ Muscle formation
~ Bone remodelling and growth
~ Liver function
~ Reproductive system function
~ Skin and nerve function