The Endocannabinoid System

Let’s start with a basic primer on the endocannabinoid system, or ECS.  This system is essentially composed of three parts: the endocannabinoids our bodies naturally produce, receptors that bond with the endocannabinoids, and enzymes responsible for stimulating endocannabinoid production, and later, causing endocannabinoids to degrade.

The ECS is a neuromodulatory system, which means it is involved in regulating nervous system activity.  Certain conditions can cause the body to produce endocannabinoids, which then bind to receptors to produce a variety of effects before they degrade.  Preserving homeostasis, or the body’s natural balance, seems to be the main purpose behind this system.

The ECS goes to work when you’re hungry, overheated, or suffering from inflammation.  It interacts with every system in your body, and affects everything from appetite and digestion, to sleep regulation, to immune function, fertility, mood, and more.

Why is this important and what does it have to do with CBD?  Cannabis is made up of hundreds of chemical compounds.  Over 400 have already been isolated and identified.  Of these chemical compounds, more than 100 are what is known as cannabinoids.

These cannabinoids interact with the body’s ECS.  They behave similarly to the endocannabinoids we produce naturally, bonding to receptors to stimulate certain effects.  While these effects are still being studied and understood, it has become clear that there could be many beneficial results, including management of a variety of symptoms related to ailments both common and rare.

Cannabinoids don’t work in exactly the same way as endocannabinoids – they may produce different effects and they aren’t necessarily subject to the same degradation as endocannabinoids.  The effects tend to last longer since the enzymes that control endocannabinoid degradation don’t affect inhaled or ingested cannabinoids in the same way.

Now that you have a basic understanding of how the endocannabinoid system works and how chemical compounds found in cannabis interact with it, let’s look more closely at one cannabinoid that’s garnered a lot of attention: CBD.