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CBD and endocannabinoid system

4 August 2023

CBD and Endocannabinoid System

CBD and Endocannabinoid System (ECS) play an important role in the body’s wellbeing.  A simple explanation of the Endocannabinoid System is that it is a complex cell signalling system which plays a role in regulating a range of functions in your body such as temperature, sleep, mood, appetite, memory and general wellbeing.  There are three important components to the ECS: endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes.

Endocannabinoids (cannabinoids) are molecules made by your body.  They are similar to cannabinoids found in the Cannabis Sativa L. hemp plant but are produced by your body and that is why Scientists are so excited about CBD’s potential, as it appears that by taking CBD as a food supplement and part of your daily wellness routine, may enhance your endocannabinoid system’s ability to fend off certain ailments.

Endocannabinoid receptors are found throughout your body and endocannabinoids bind to them in order to signal that the ECS needs to take some sort of restorative action.  The two main endocannabinoid receptors that are currently being studied by scientists around the world are CB1 and CB2.

CB1 receptors are mostly found in the central nervous system whereas CBD2 receptors, although can be found in your peripheral nervous system, are more concentrated in the immune system.

Enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids.

This complex network of receptors and neurotransmitters plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes like mood, sleep patterns, appetite, and pain sensation.

The role of the Endocannabinoid System in maintaining balance and harmony within our bodies is nothing short of extraordinary. Whether it be regulating pain, sleep, mood, or even appetite, this intricate web of molecules and receptors acts as a guardian, tirelessly endeavouring to keep us in a state of well-being.

CBD can help bring your body into homeostasis which basically means bringing the body into balance. One example of homeostasis is the ability of the body to maintain an average temperature of 98.6 degrees.  Homeostasis is essential for the normal function of all cells in the body and if it cannot be maintained then the body cannot function properly and we are likely to feel unwell.

While there is still much to unravel and comprehend about the relationship between CBD and the Endocannabinoid System, the burgeoning field of CBD research offers a glimmer of hope and promise for those seeking natural alternative remedies, rather than relying on prescription medication from ‘Big Pharma’.

What is CBD and how does it interact with the Endocannabinoid System?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD (Cannabidiol) is primarily derived from the flowers, leaves, and stems of the Cannabis Sativa hemp plant, rather than from the seeds. While the seeds of the hemp plant do contain trace amounts of cannabinoids, including CBD, they are not a significant source of this compound. The highest concentration of CBD is found in the resinous trichomes that grow on the flowers, leaves, and stems of the hemp plant. Therefore, CBD oil and other CBD products are typically extracted from these parts of the plant, rather than from the seeds.

CBD is totally non-psychoactive, therefore will not make you high. THC, on the other hand, is the compound mostly found in the cannabis Indica plant (Marijuana).

CBD interacts with the body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of receptors and neurotransmitters involved in regulating various functions such as sleep, mood, pain, and immune response.

CBD has shown potential for various therapeutic benefits, including pain relief, intractable epilepsy treatment, reducing anxiety and depression, alleviating cancer-related symptoms, and managing inflammation.

How does terpenes in CBD aid the Endocannabinoid System?

As CBD has the potential to interact with certain medications, especially those metabolized by the liver. It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional if you’re currently taking any medications before incorporating CBD into your routine.

Terpenes interact with the endocannabinoid system and assist cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream – this is known as the entourage effect.  CBD can inhibit immune cell migration and prompt anti-inflammatory effects.

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in many plants, including the hemp plant from which CBD is extracted. While terpenes are responsible for the distinct aroma and flavour of different CBD strains, they also have a number of potential health benefits when used in combination with CBD.

  • Anti-inflammatory:  Many terpenes have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. CBD itself is known for its anti-inflammatory effects, and when combined with terpenes, it may have an even greater impact on reducing inflammation.
  • Pain relief:  Some terpenes, such as myrcene and beta-caryophyllene, have been shown to have analgesic effects. These compounds may help to reduce pain and inflammation, making them potentially useful for managing conditions like arthritis.
  • Anxiety and stress relief:  Certain terpenes, such as limonene and linalool, have been shown to have calming effects. When combined with CBD, these compounds may help to reduce anxiety and stress, promoting relaxation and a sense of well-being.  Foods linked to the reduction of anxiety and stress are everyday leafy greens such such as spinach and Swiss chard.  Legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds also contain magnesium and foods rich in zinc include liver, beef and egg yolks.  Studies suggest foods that include omega-3 fatty acid can help to reduce anxiety and extreme mood swings.
  • Antioxidant:  Some terpenes, such as alpha-pinene, have been shown to have antioxidant properties. These compounds may help to protect the body against damage from free radicals, which can contribute to a range of health problems.  Antioxidant foods include kidney beans, fruits like apples, plums and beverages that are made from them  Berries such as blackberries, strawberries, raspberries or blueberries and beverages that are made from them. Nuts are generally high in antioxidants. Spices containing both antioxidant and anti-anxiety properties include ginger and turmeric.  Lemon and Ginger tea, for example, is often a firm favourite and turmeric is easy to add to many recipes.
  • Anti-cancer:  While more research is needed, some studies suggest that terpenes may have anti-cancer effects. For example, beta-caryophyllene has been shown to have potential anti-tumour properties.  Beta-caryophyllene is found in Black Pepper, Oregano, Rosemary, Cloves and other dark leafy herbal plants.

So, as we bid farewell to this enthralling journey into the depths of the endocannabinoid system, we are left with a profound realisation – that the science of CBD is but a mere glimpse into the vast wonders of the human body, waiting to be explored and understood.

 

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