Cannabinoids are found in the hemp plant as phytocannabinoids, but many people don’t know that they also exist in humans.
Endogenous cannabinoids, or endocannabinoids, are the body’s “messenger” molecules that trigger homeostatic reactions when they bind to receptors found within the human body.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) itself was discovered by a small team of scientists in 1992. At the time of analysis, researchers were actually studying THC, another compound found within the plant. This discovery soon became more pivotal than once thought, noting that the ECS can be found throughout the body.
But what actually is the ECS system, and what does it do?
The ECS forms part of the body responsible for maintaining internal, balance – or homeostasis. You could call it the bridge between our body and mind. THROUGHOUT OUR BODIES, the ECS is present on the immune cells in our bloodstream, brain cells, spinal cord, cardiovascular system, and skin. It restores the order for certain functions and processes, including; sleep, mood, memory, inflammation, digestion, appetite and pain sensation.
Let’s break endocannabinoids down a little more…
The ECS has three components; endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids are compounds found in our bodies, and scientists have identified two key types so far – Anandamide (AEA) and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Our body produces them as we need them to keep our internal functions running smoothly.
Researchers have also identified two receptors in the human body that respond to hemp and its compounds, known as CB1 and CB2. These receptors are part of a larger system that plays an important role in signalling the ECS to function. The enzymes produced by our bodies are responsible for the degradation of the endocannabinoids, each having its own enzyme… for this purpose.
The AEA, nicknamed the “bliss molecule”, is a neurotransmitter that interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, affecting the processes mentioned above; appetite, mood and pain. 2-AG also binds to the receptors present in the central nervous system. Both are made on-demand, when needed and when imbalances are detected in the body. When this happens, the ECS produces endocannabinoids which then interact with the receptors. Causing a chemical response in the body, returning you to a state of homeostasis.
What are CB1 & CB2 receptors?
CB1 and CB2 are the two most commonly studied receptors within the human body. CB1 can be found in the central nervous system, while CB2 can be found in the peripheral nervous system.
Both receptors are vital for our brains to function healthily and is also likely to be part of the rebalancing cycle for our nervous system. The immune system is where you’ll likely find CB2 receptors, helping to fight inflammation and symptoms of autoimmune disorders.
Whilst studies show CBD prefers to bind with CB1 receptors and CBG prefers to bind with CB2 receptors, both can bind with the reverse.
So, where does CBD fit into all of this?
While experts are yet to prove just how CBD interacts with the ECS, we know that CBD reacts differently with the body than THC. It’s believed CBD works by preventing endocannabinoids from breaking down, allowing them to have a bigger impact on your body. There’s also speculation that CBD has the ability to bind to other undiscovered receptors.
Research suggests that CBD (being a plant-sourced phytocannabinoid) can enhance our ECS, maximizing the effects and benefits of other cannabinoids in our body. Bringing you closer to a balanced lifestyle.