As cannabis continues to gain legitimization across the globe, we continue to learn more about this powerful plant. To this end, legalization efforts have opened the door to a floodgate of new medical research into hemp-based chemicals. While these studies still have an extremely long way to go in uncovering all the nascent medical applications of cannabis and hemp, they have illuminated some amazing new discoveries one being the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) which is essential in understanding how CBD interacts with the human body.
During the 1990s, Israeli scientist “Dr. Lumir Hanus along with American researcher Dr. William Devane” discovered what is now known as the “endocannabinoid system” (ECS). Interestingly, this discovery was made as the scientists were researching how THC affects human subjects.
According to the website Labroots, “In pursuit of unearthing the metabolic pathways of phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids, scientists came across an unknown molecular signaling system within the body that is involved in regulating a broad range of biological functions. This system was named the endocannabinoid system (ECS).”
With this new discovery in hand, researchers began looking for ways that the ECS is connected to our overall health. In turn, this next phase of research helped uncover how cannabinoids such as THC and CBD interact with the ECS to help regulate essential body functions.
What are Cannabinoids?
The scientists that discovered the ECS did so in studying the interaction of cannabinoids with the human body. Therefore, taking a closer look at some of the characteristics of cannabinoids will help us gain a clearer understanding of the ECS and CBD.
Cannabis and hemp plants contain a plethora of chemicals and compounds, some of which have proven or potential medical value. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine website, “Cannabis is a complex plant with over 400 chemical entities of which more than 60 of them are cannabinoid compounds.”
Cannabinoids are chemicals entirely unique to the cannabis/hemp plant that interact with the human body to result in physical and psychological effects. To illustrate, the most widely known cannabinoid is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which causes the euphoric “high” for which cannabis is largely regarded. Yet, as we have come to learn more about the medical applications of cannabinoids, CBD (cannabidiol) is growing increasingly popular across the globe. This growth is due largely to CBD’s potential uses as an anxiety remedy and pain medication.
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD affect people by interacting “with specific receptors … located within different parts of the central nervous system.” It is precisely this reaction between plant-based chemicals and human-based receptors that leads us to the endocannabinoid system.
The Endocannabinoid System
The scientific community came to further their understanding of the ECS and CBD by studying the interactions of cannabinoids with receptors in the human body.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine website identifies two types of cannabinoid receptors found in the human body; they are titled “Cannabinoid 1” and “Cannabinoid 2” receptors. These receptors, in turn, are linked to a larger “neurotransmitter system” that comprises the greater ECS. Finally, the website tells us, “This system is widely distributed in the brain and in the body, and is considered to be responsible for numerous significant functions.”
While we are still learning the extent of what the ECS regulates in the human body, researchers postulate it controls vital processes such as appetite, metabolism, mood, digestion, and many more.
Looking more specifically to cannabinoids, some scientists believe that imbalances within the ECS can lead to health issues for patients. It is precisely these imbalances that can be potentially remedied with cannabinoid products such as Nature’s Therapy CBD.
ECS and CBD
Many feel that CBD can help alleviate issues that result from imbalances within the ECS – especially concerning endocannabinoid deficiencies. According to the Elite Healthcare website, “Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome (CECD) is a recognized medical diagnosis wherein a patient is determined not to be producing enough of their own cannabinoids.”
CECD is believed to be the root cause of many disruptive ailments, including migraine headaches, chronic anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, and many more.
CECD is perhaps the most convincing application for CBD consumption to date. Namely because, as stated on the Elite Healthcare website, “medical experts currently believe that CBD inhibits the enzyme Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH), the primary molecule responsible for breaking down and recycling endocannabinoids.”
There is much research needed to further our understanding of the ECS and CBD. Nonetheless, what we know provides a powerful case for using CBD to curb CECD as well as the ailments it is potentially related to.
Looking at the field of medical science as a whole, we still have a good deal to learn about the inner workings of the human organism. That being said, it’s nothing short of fascinating that scientific research about cannabis and hemp led to a discovery as important as the endocannabinoid system.
The discovery of the ECS by the Israeli team in the 1990s set the stage for rational dialogue between medical cannabis advocates and the scientific community – perhaps the first time. This fruitful conversation introduced the world of legal cannabinoids like CBD, which plays its own role in regulating the ECS.
Looking to the future, industry-leading CBD companies like Nature’s Therapy will continue to develop products in conjunction with our understanding of the ECS and CBD. Ideally, this process will work in a collective “give and take” between CBD companies and the medical community, as we continue to explore and expand the potential latent within cannabis and hemp.