Understanding The Endocannabinoid System

A scientist looking through a microscope to study the endocannabinoid system

The Endocannabinoid System

Every animal, including humans, regulates many important functions of its body with a set of neurotransmitters and receptors called the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system helps to facilitate memory, mood, pain-sensation, appetite, pre-and-postnatal development, pregnancy, and fertility.  Your immune system and your brain contain enormous quantities of receptors where a variety of cannabinoids act as a neurotransmitter. Some common foods are known to contain cannabinoids, like broccoli for instance.  So far though, no plant has been shown to contain as many cannabinoids in as much quantity as the cannabis plant.  The two most well-known (well-studied) cannabinoids in cannabis plants are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).  Over the years, CBD has been shown to be non-psychoactive (it can’t make you feel a “high”).  It has also been deemed 100% legal and shown to have a number of health promoting benefits.

In recent years, the endocannabinoid system has been associated with many physiological functions with increasing regularity.  Your body contains cannabinoid receptors throughout.  Cannabinoid receptors are present in the central and peripheral nervous system, as well as in organs and tissues.  Activating and replenishing this system with cannabidiol from hemp oil has been researched for its therapeutic utility.  Cannabinoids like CBD show promise for things like: seizure disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s, neuropathic pain, cancer, and MS.

Medical Research Into Cannabinoids

Research into the endocannabinoid system has been delayed, and our understanding has been obscured by continued legal and cultural hurdles.  There is a stigma associated with cannabis and cannabinoid research – mostly due to the history of THC and the associated high.  We were fortunate to discover that the industrial hemp plant produces CBD in much larger quantities than THC, so research into cannabidiol has been accelerated.

The technology has improved so that CBD manufacturing now yields a product that contains a vanishingly small amount to zero THC.  As a result, there are almost daily publications, new studies, and other new information about the endocannabinoid system.  We learn more about modulating that system with supplemental CBD effects various conditions.  The research continues to show that CBD provides almost all of the benefits that its psychoactive cousin exhibits for stimulating the endocannabinoid system with none of the psychic or social drawbacks of marijuana.

The more research is done, the more relevance the endocannabinoid system appears to have to immune function, social function, thermoregulation, energy, balance, appetite, metabolism, memory, and neural excitement.  The endocannabinoid system has been shown to exist in organisms as ancient as 600M years.  Humans have only been studying this system since 1964.  Science is just beginning to unlock the secrets and potential of the endocannabinoid system.

For more academic and detailed reading on the subject, please visit:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2241751/

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