When it comes to natural and alternative remedies, the first thing people always want to know is whether something works or not. Companies can make wild claims about what their products do, but consumers want to see the science behind the substance. To understand how CBD products like vital CBD tinctures, CBD oils, and topical CBD products work, we need to understand one of our body’s most important systems for cellular regulation: The Endocannabinoid System.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system is a system of receptors, natural cannabinoids, and metabolic enzymes that are present throughout most of our body’s tissues and organs. This system is found in all vertebrate species and is believed to have evolved over 600 million years ago. But what does it do exactly?
The endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in our cells, tissues, and organs. Homeostasis is our body’s way of keeping cells in optimal condition. While many of our body systems are involved in maintaining homeostasis, the endocannabinoid system functions as an overall body support system, sending backup to specific areas that need it most.
How Does the Endocannabinoid System Work?
As I mentioned before, the endocannabinoid system is made up of three main parts:
- Cannabinoid Receptors – These specialized neuroreceptors are present throughout our central and peripheral nervous system. The two main receptors, CB1 and CB2, are found on the surface of many cells and send vital information to kickstart important cellular processes.
- Endocannabinoids – Our bodies naturally produce these molecules to activate our cannabinoid receptors. The two main endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-AG. These molecules are produced by the body as needed and are not packaged and stored like many other biological molecules.
- Metabolic Enzymes – These enzymes break down endocannabinoids once they have served their purpose. Once the cell has received the information and started to regulate back towards homeostasis, these enzymes destroy any leftover anandamide and 2-AG in the cell.
These three components work together to help cells throughout our body maintain homeostasis. Endocannabinoids regulate all sorts of bodily functions and states including mood, appetite, pain sensation, fertility, pregnancy, memory, and more. This widespread range of effects is one of the reasons that plant cannabinoids are often hailed as a cure-all.
Where Do Plant Cannabinoids Come into Play?
Earlier I mentioned the two primary endocannabinoids that our bodies produce to help regulate cellular activity, anandamide, and 2-AG. These molecules interact with our natural cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, respectively.
Anandamide and THC both bind to our body’s CB1 receptors. These receptors are found primarily in our brain and central nervous system. Anandamide is responsible for the effect known as “runner’s high”, and THC is the potent psychoactive compound found in cannabis.
2-AG and CBD also share similar molecular structures and bind to our body’s CB2 receptors. These receptors are found primarily in our immune system and peripheral nervous system. These molecules help to regulate many of our natural bodily functions and promote healthy cell growth and activity.
Our endocannabinoid system helps regulate cell activity throughout our body with the help of specialized molecules are their accompanying receptors. These molecules are produced on demand and can produce a variety of effects depending on what situation they were deployed to help with.
Plant cannabinoids are incredibly similar to our body’s natural endocannabinoids and can help us further regulate certain bodily functions. In some cases, when our bodies don’t produce enough endocannabinoids, these plant-based cannabinoids can be administered as tinctures, oils, or topicals to help fill in the gaps.
Cannabinoids are completely safe and naturally occurring in our own bodies. Without our endocannabinoid system, our cells would have a much harder time maintaining homeostasis, causing a plethora of health issues and cellular imbalances. Learn more about our fascinating endocannabinoid system here.