What role does CBD and the endocannabinoid system play?

To understand how cannabidiol (CBD) works you must understand the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

In this article we will discuss the crucial role CBD and the endocannabinoid system play within the body, and how supplementing your diet with CBD oil can support your body’s natural defenses.

So specifically what role does CBD and the endocannabinoid system play?

We all have an endocannabinoid system, as do all mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish. Even amphibians seem to have a primitive version.

The system is not exactly the same in all animals so we will deal only with the system in humans which is much the same as in all mammals, so also the same as your dog or cat.

The endocannabinoid system is internal to the body which is why it has the prefix ‘endo’ from the Greek word meaning ‘within, inner, absorbing, or containing’. It consists of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors and enzymes.

The Endocannabinoid System

Endocannabinoids are fatty substances or oils in microscopic quantities which interact or bind with cannabinoid receptors.

Cannabinoid receptors are membranes in our body’s cells that enable signals to be passed back and forth. There are CB1 and CB2 receptors in the central nervous system and CB2 receptors in the immune and gastrointestinal system.

Scientists have suggested that there is a CB3 receptor but this is still theory at present.

The enzymes are responsible for the manufacture and disposal of endocannabinoids.

Our body manufactures endocannabinoids in order to pass messages concerning functions such as stress response, memory, appetite and mood.

CBD and the endocannabinoid system

The endocannabinoid system and CBD oil are a powerful partnership that offers support to our health and wellbeing.

CBD is a phytocannabinoid, that is - a substance derived from a plant (phyto) that interacts with the cannabinoid receptors found in the body. Most phytocannabinoids are from the cannabis plant although some other plants such as echinacea and cocoa also contain cannabinoid-like substances.

So CBD and other phytocannabinoids can affect our body in the same way as endocannabinoids.

The science is not yet clear whether phytocannabinoids can replace or substitute for endocannabinoids but it seems to make logical sense.

Remember though that when you ingest CBD, even in small doses, these are massively greater than the microscopic quantities of endocannabinoids.

In theory then (and from actual experience), phytocannabinoids can affect memory, pain response, appetite, stress levels and mood.

Remember too that the effect can work either way. For example, scientists are working hard to research how cannabinoids can reduce rather than increase pain and inflammation and have a beneficial effect on our memory and mood.

Therefore, the endocannabinoid system and CBD​ ​oil​ ​can support our bodies in the protection against all forms of illness.

The endocannabinoid system and our health

So it’s pretty clear that our endocannabinoid system is very important to our health and wellbeing.

All the more remarkable then that it was only discovered in 1988 by an Israeli scientist named Raphael Mechoulam and 30 years later most doctors do not receive any training in it. Medical schools have yet to catch up with the science.

Just how important the endocannabinoid system is has been well expressed by Dr David Allen, an eminent cardiac surgeon and cardiologist. He describes it as the most important discovery in medicine since the invention of sterile surgery technique.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the endocannabinoid system

The discovery of the endocannabinoid system in 1988 is so recent that researchers, scientists and doctors have yet to catch up with all its implications for human health.

Also, given the stigmatisation of cannabis and about a century of scaremongering propaganda about its dangers, even for the most forward-thinking it is difficult to put aside these deeply ingrained beliefs.

The endocannabinoid system and scientific research

There is also an enormous raft of legislation which inhibits research and prevents scientists from being able to study cannabis and its components.

Most of this stems from the United Nations 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs which defined cannabis as having no medical value.

The consequence is that it is expensive and time consuming to research cannabis.

In the UK, the Home Office stifles research by charging nearly £5000 for a licence which takes up to two years to pass through its administrative process. To obtain a licence researchers also have to implement security precautions which are very expensive and require tighter control to be kept on cannabis than even highly toxic substances such as heroin or cocaine.

However, low-THC cannabis, containing less than 0.2% THC is legal to grow under a licence that costs just a few hundred pounds and is much easier to obtain.

Known as ‘industrial hemp’ it contains high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) which unlike THC is not a controlled drug.

This is why CBD products are becoming so popular.

They contain all the components of cannabis with just the level of THC restricted. This means they can act on the ECS and provide a large part of the benefit which cannabis can offer to health and wellbeing.

CBD as a food supplement

As we have explained in other insightful blog posts, because cannabis is so strictly controlled, these CBD products are not sold as medicines, but as CBD food supplements.

No claims can be made that they can treat medical problems or diseases. All we can say is that they help to maintain health and wellbeing, just like other food supplements.

Strangely, despite the terrible stigmatization of cannabis, THC, which is the principal psychoactive ingredient, is now available in the USA as an isolated compound and is marketed as a medicine either as Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone).

However these have proved unpopular both with patients and doctors.

In the UK, a Select Committee on Science and Technology reviewed Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone) in 1998.

Gradually, the limited amount of research that has been carried out has shown that THC works best when combined with CBD and other components of the plant.

This is known as the ‘entourage effect’ and it suggest that whole plant cannabis extracts are more effective than isolated compounds.

CBD and the endocannabinoid system, a powerful partnership

So once again, this explains why CBD products such as the Love Hemp range are so popular and effective.

They are whole plant, low-THC cannabis extracts and work to nourish the endocannabinoid system and bring the body back into balance. Amongst all its other functions, the ECS is responsible for maintaining ‘homeostasis’ or stability and balance of all our bodily functions.

The endocannabinoid system and CBD oil​ ​offer a powerful synergy.​ ​This partnership offers many benefits to our health. 

Read more on The Endocannabinoid System. Part 2

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