The Amazing Endocannabinoid System
The Endocannabinoid system (ECS) was discovered by Dr Raphael Mechoulam, considered to be the father of cannabis based medicines. What’s most amazing is that the ECS is now considered to be the largest network of receptors in the human body.
The discovery of the Endocannabinoid system (ECS) is arguably the greatest health discovery of modern times.
The main purpose of the ECS is to help the body maintain a sense of balance, also known as homeostasis. To illustrate, think of a time you have felt out of balance, such as under periods of considerable stress.
Under stress, our bodies shift into fight or flight mode, and our sympathetic nervous system is on overdrive, with heart pounding, shaking, sweating, panicking, mind racing. Daily life makes it very difficult to regroup and get back into balance. Rarely can we slow down enough to fully recover. There is always another day, with more demands pulling at us from all different angles.
In response to chronic stress, our bodies often respond in maladaptive fashion, with inflammation, gut imbalances, sleep disturbance, metabolic issues- either not eating enough or overeating, run down immune system.
We need to learn to rest, digest and restore. The Endocannabinoid System is our great friend in this regard. Remember, the ECS is now considered to be the largest network of receptors in the human body.
What is a receptor?
It is a protein molecule that receives signals from the outside. While cannabinoid receptors are known to be in the brain and nervous system, researchers have also identified cannabinoid receptors in the peripheral nervous system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. Cannabinoid receptors continue to be identified in our organs, connective tissue and glands (hint- they are everywhere!)
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Receptors are the locks and cannabinoids are the keys that unlock the receptors and activate them. CBD binds to the receptors and sends messages right into the cells.
Genes are the codes for every protein in our body. Among these proteins are signaling molecules. CBD modulates the transcription of genes that make signaling molecules that reduce inflammation.
To understand signaling molecules, think of cell phone signals; only these cell signals are going up and down the endocannabinoid system all over the human body. The 2 main body systems where signaling molecules do their job:
- Hormonal system
- Immune System
This is why CBD and other cannabinoids are having such promise in mediating response in all these systems. Inflammation is closely linked to stress which is at the root of many health conditions today. CBD helps reduce out of control inflammation which is one reason CBD is so beneficial. We cannot make any health claims but we can encourage readers to explore, read more and learn.
Stress can wear us down but now we have a new best friend to help us on our path to restoration and rejuvenation. Take time to learn more about your Endocannabinoid System. Take good care of it and it will most certainly take good care of you.
by Mary Zennett, Global Health LLC