News & Education June 24, 2020

The Endocannabinoid System and How CBD Products Affect It

The endocannabinoid system is found in mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and some invertebrates. It consists of a network of cannabinoid receptors that are located throughout the body, such as the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and immune system. The endocannabinoid system regulates many different functions of the body that includes mood, sleep, memory, appetite, immune response, body temperature, etc.

Recent studies have established that the endocannabinoid system not just reacts to the endocannabinoids produced within the body, but also responds to external cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD). That is why it is seen that introducing CBD to the body can help to manage the symptoms of many physical and mental health problems, such as pain, inflammation, mood irregularity, anxious feelings, and more. If you’re looking for a CBD product that can help you deal with muscle soreness and joint pain, then check out urbanXtracts Muscle Stick!

How Does the Endocannabinoid System Work?

As our body experiences a health problem, the endocannabinoid system releases a set of natural cannabinoids to maintain the balance in the body. However, it cannot deal with the health problems by itself. Unlike other bodily systems that focus on a specific function, such as the digestive system that helps with the absorption of nutrients in the food or the respiratory system that helps to maintain oxygen levels, the endocannabinoid system does not have any particular function. Instead, it works to maintain the balance between the other systems in the body to ensure that they function optimally.

The endocannabinoid system works to achieve homeostasis in the body, which means getting a stable balance of the different variables irrespective of the external conditions. For instance, the endocannabinoid system will maintain the body temperature and heartbeat within a specific range no matter how the climate conditions are or what activity you are doing. So when the climate conditions change to a bit hotter, then the endocannabinoid system makes the body sweat and maintain the optimal temperature. This way, the endocannabinoid system works with all the other systems of the body to maintain good health.

The Main Components of the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system has three main components: endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and metabolic enzymes. Endocannabinoids are like the chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, such as CBD and THC. These are called phytocannabinoids. The term “Phyto” here refers to the production of these cannabinoids in plants. On the other hand, the term “endo” in endocannabinoids indicates that the chemical compounds are produced within the body. The main endocannabinoids identified in humans are anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol.

Anandamide, or N-arachidonoylethanolamine, is a fatty acid neurotransmitter that is derived from the non-oxidative metabolism of the essential omega-6 fatty acid, known as arachidonic acid or eicosatetraenoic acid. This endocannabinoid signals the brain and works with the endocannabinoid system to maintain memory, appetite, fertility, and other functions. 2- arachidonoylglycerol, or 2-AG, is a characteristic species of monoacylglycerol, which is linked to the different emotional states a person experiences, such as a feeling of content. 2-AG also works with the endocannabinoid system to maintain cardiovascular health and provide protection from seizures.

Cannabinoid receptors, as mentioned, are distributed throughout the body. They are found on the surface of the cells in the organs and the nervous system. Cannabinoid receptors monitor the conditions outside the cells and then transmit the information about any changing conditions to the inside of the cell to activate the relevant cellular response. Endocannabinoids bind to the cannabinoid receptors, just as phytocannabinoids do, to interact with different bodily systems and maintain the balance in the body as needed. The main cannabinoid receptors identified in humans are CB1 and CB2.

The CB1 receptors are located on nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. However, they are also found in some peripheral organs and tissues like the endocrine gland, white blood cells, the spleen, and sometimes in the gastrointestinal, reproductive, and urinary tracts. The CB2 receptors are found in the tonsils, white blood cells, the spleen, and in the peripheral nervous system. As cannabinoid receptors are located all across the body, the endocannabinoid system can detect any imbalance in different bodily systems quickly and with great accuracy. 

When the endocannabinoids have accomplished their goal, the endocannabinoid system releases specific metabolic enzymes to break down the chemical compounds. This way, the body will not experience an excessive build-up of endocannabinoids. The degrading enzyme that works to break anandamide is FAAH or fatty acid amide hydrolase, and the one that works to break 2-AG is MAGL or monoacylglycerol lipase. The metabolic enzymes make sure that the endocannabinoids are used as needed and for as long as required. This makes endocannabinoids different from the many of the other molecular signals in the body, which can be stored for later use or can last longer in the system. For a CBD product that lasts for a long time, we recommend a CBD edible like Kine’s Pink Grapefruit Drops.

How the Endocannabinoid System Works With CBD

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural cannabinoid compound found in the hemp plant. This phytocannabinoid binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the body and boosts the functions of the endocannabinoid system to regulate bodily functions just as endocannabinoids do. CBD binds with both the CB1 receptors and the CB2 receptors to benefit the whole body and maintain the balance of bodily functions. This helps to ease physical ailments, such as pain and swelling, as well as mental conditions like depression and anxiety. One of our favorite products to help manage nervous feelings and stress is Mary’s Nutritionals Calm Bath Bomb.

On the other hand, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the other main phytocannabinoid found in cannabis, binds to the CB1 receptors in the brain only. It works just like anandamide, but while endocannabinoid offers a calming effect, THC can have mind-altering effects and lead to alterations in mood, perception, cognition, consciousness, and behavior. The FAAH enzymes are not very effective in breaking down THC, which is why its psychoactive effects last for a long time.

CBD does not have any psychoactive properties and does not lead to a “high”. All the CBD products available in the market are required to contain no more than 0.3% THC, which makes it safe to use. Besides, CBD also alters the activity of the endocannabinoid system in how it transports proteins and enzymes, which in turn affect the concentration of anandamide in the body. CBD works to reduce the action of the FAAH enzyme, which is responsible for degrading anandamide. This results in a higher concentration of anandamide in the body, which leads to a soothing effect on the brain and eases stress.

The Indirect Effects of CBD on the Endocannabinoid System

CBD does not affect the brain or bodily functions directly but boosts the natural functions of the endocannabinoid system. It is also found that CBD triggers many other molecular pathways in the body, such as the immune system receptors, serotonin receptors, and the TRP receptors, which detect changes in the environment and regulate body temperature. The extent to which CBD can be beneficial to the person depends upon how it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. Simply put, the action of CBD on the user is mostly indirect, which mainly includes triggering the effects of anandamide and other neurotransmitters in the endocannabinoid system.

Note that the endocannabinoid system can sometimes fall short in finding a solution to some health problems that the body is experiencing. Yet by supplying an additional amount of cannabinoid to the body with CBD, the endocannabinoid system can work to re-establish the balance between all the different functions in the body. That is why cannabinoids are considered the most versatile signaling molecules.

CBD and exogenous cannabinoids are not the only elements that interact with the endocannabinoid system. It is found that performing aerobic exercises for extended hours can also lead to a feeling of post-training euphoria or “runner’s high”. This works to increase the level of anandamide in the brain and offers a soothing effect. In some cases, higher consumption of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, such as those found in linseed, oily fish, and hempseed, can also work to trigger the functions of the endocannabinoid system.

Yet again, the interaction of CBD with the endocannabinoid system is more profound and effectual. It is also found that small doses of CBD can be more beneficial to indicate the body to produce more amounts of endocannabinoids as well as build more cannabinoid receptors. That is why CBD users usually do not see a noticeable change with the very first use. However, as they continue taking the CBD dosage, the body builds up more cannabinoid receptors and increases the sensitivity to cannabinoids. That is why taking smaller doses of CBD regularly can have a greater effect on the body and works to boost wellness.