The Endocannabinoid System
Head, shoulders, knees, and ...the endocannabinoid system!
You thought we were going to say “toes”, didn’t you? Well, not today!
Today we are going to talk about the endocannabinoid system, which is actually one of your most important physiological systems. But before we dive in, we want to disclose that while we think science is really cool, we aren’t scientists. However, we do know a thing or two about the science of cannabinoids – both internal cannabinoids and external cannabinoids.
“Did you just say internal cannabinoids?” You bet we did!
Endocannabinoids and Phytocannabinoids
If you’ve been doing your research on CBD products, we’re sure that you've been seeing the term “cannabinoid” used quite frequently. To build on what we previously discussed...
There are two types of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids (‘internal’ cannabinoids) are cannabinoids that are naturally produced by the body (‘internal’) whereas phytocannabinoids (‘external’ cannabinoids) are the naturally-occurring cannabinoids found within the Cannabis sativa plant. Phytocannabinoids are the ones that you’re more familiar with. You know, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), just to name a couple. We will actually be continuing our Journey Through the Cannabinoids feature in the future so stay tuned! In the meantime, let's talk about what cannabinoids have to do with the endocannabinoid system.
Cannabinoids basically have EVERYTHING to do with this system! That’s because cannabinoids are the reason the system was discovered in the first place. Crazy, huh? So, to understand why phytocannabinoids react with your body the way they do, you need to have a better understanding of the various elements that make up the endocannabinoid system.
Elements of the Endocannabinoid System
Your endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a biological system that is composed of three elements: several types of endocannabinoids (like 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2AG) and N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA)), cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), and enzymes that rapidly break down endocannabinoids. Don’t worry, we will speak more in-depth about 2AG and AEA in a later post. For now, we want you to focus on cannabinoid receptors.
Think of the endocannabinoid and cannabinoid receptor relationship in relation to LEGO bricks...
The cannabinoid receptors are those “tubes” on one side of the LEGO brick and the endocannabinoids themselves are the “studs” on the other side of the LEGO brick. But what’s the point of playing with LEGOs if you’re not going to create something awesome?!
Your Own LEGO Castle
When the studs and tubes of the LEGO bricks fit together, you are well on your way to building some kind of structure. When it comes to the ECS, it’s essentially like building a LEGO castle.
Let’s play make-believe…
Your LEGO castle is real and you’re actually a king or queen.
What does a king or queen do? They rule a kingdom.
Who supports the king or queen in their endeavors of running their kingdom? A bunch of common-folk servants.
For all intent and purposes, let’s say that your “kingdom” is your body, your “castle” is your ECS, and the “foundation” of your castle is created by fitting those “studs” (endocannabinoid) and “tubes” (cannabinoid receptors) together. Now, we can’t forget about the little guys! Your common-folk "servants" are the chemical signals and the “work” completed by them is chemical signaling. In case you don’t know, ‘chemical signaling’ is simply how your cells communicate with one another.
Now, let’s break it down...
Your castle (ECS) resides within your kingdom (body). Within your castle (ECS), there is a network of servants (chemical signals) that are working (chemical signaling) to help you run your kingdom (body). In order for your servants (chemical signals) to properly do their work (chemical signaling), you need a safe place for them. This safe haven is your castle (ECS), which wouldn’t be anything without its foundation (endocannabinoids fitting within cannabinoid receptors).
This foundation (endocannabinoids fitting within cannabinoid receptors) of your castle (ECS) has created work (chemical signaling) for the common-folk servants (chemical signals) of your kingdom (body). Without this foundation (endocannabinoids fitting within cannabinoid receptors, there would be no work (chemical signaling) for your servants (chemical signals).
So what does this crazy analogy really mean?
Simply put, all of the above elements are working together to maintain a basis of strength and stability. Without one component, you couldn’t possibly have another; they are dependant on each other. Notice how we underlined the word “stability”? There’s a reason for that.
While research on the ECS is rather recent, it is now regarded “as an important modulatory system” in maintaining the body’s homeostasis, or internal stability.
Remember us talking about CB1 and CB2 receptors? CB1 receptors are predominantly found in the brain and nervous system and CB2 receptors are mainly found in the immune system. However, cannabinoid receptors are actually found all throughout your body. Your ECS is constantly at work with each major body system to ensure a person’s well-being. That’s why an ECS malfunction of any sort can totally take your body out of a balanced state. This will cause you to run into all sorts of disorders and illnesses – yuck! This is where phytocannabinoids can be of help.
Phytocannabinoids Save the Day!
You hear all the time that Cannabis is a miracle “drug”. Well, that’s because it really is! We talked about how a properly functioning ECS is virtually responsible for your well-being. Now, what happens when it's not functioning properly and there is an issue in the endocannabinoid production department? Phytocannabinoids, such as CBD and THC, can actually ‘mimic’ endocannabinoids. While essentially mimicking these molecules, phytocannabinoids are actually binding or stimulating cannabinoid receptors in their own unique ways.
Remember how we talked about why CBD doesn’t get you high? It's the same concept because it's about the way these molecules react with the cannabinoid receptors. While your endocannabinoids fit into cannabinoid receptors like a "key" in a "lock", phytocannabinoids sometimes just like to jiggle the door handle surprising whoever is behind the locked door. Depending on who is jiggling the door handle, that "surprise" can result in various physiological reactions.
These physiological reactions can be intoxicating or just give you a simple feeling of being okay. In the case of CBD, it's that feeling of well-being without the "high".
We've Only Begun to Scratch the Surface...
When it comes to the endocannabinoid system, there's still a lot to be discovered. Heck, we still have a lot to learn! But by understanding the basics of this miraculous physiological system, it can help you to better understand what you need to nurture it.
We want you to have a clear understanding of what CBD products might be best for you. With that being said, our District Hemp family is always here to assist you and answer any questions you may have. Give us a ring (571) 364-8863 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with any inquiries.
Remember, we're all in this together. We just want to give you the best so you can feel your best! 💚