Getting to Know Your Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) was somewhat of a myth before its discovery in 1988. An extensive network of receptors, it is arguably the most important system in the body for establishing and maintaining long-term health. It is an impressive biochemical framework in all of our bodies with capabilities that go far beyond allowing us to avail of the medicinal benefits of cannabinoids.
Above everything else, the sole purpose of the ECS is to provide stability and balance in the body. This balanced state is called homeostasis and regardless of how stressful or serene our lives are, your ECS is always striving to achieve homeostasis. In short, it’s comforting to know that this self-monitoring, self-regulating system is forever looking out for you.
Everyone has a unique ECS, their own personal biological pathway that is home to clusters of cannabinoid receptors around the body. A useful analogy is to imagine cannabinoids as the keys and the receptors as locks. There are two types of receptors — that we know of — these are called CB1 and CB2. They act as the locks while our own endocannabinoids (or endogenous cannabinoids) — Anandamide and 2-AG — are the keys. Cannabinoids are essentially false keys but still possess the power to unlock the ECS. Turn the key and our cells undergo changes which activate the endocannabinoid system. Once activated, the ECS does what it does best, regulating important functions in our body. Cannabinoids are able to fit the locks of both the CB1 and CB2 receptors to produce different effects to the one produced by the perfect key, the body’s own endocannabinoids.
Cannabinoids, and how they behave in the ECS, are the reason why science has declared that CBD is undeniably medicinal. The ECS is the vehicle which enables cannabinoids to deliver all of these therapeutic effects as it gets involved in a broad range of physiological processes.
When a problem or imbalance occurs within our bodies the ECS communicates with the receptors to regulate it. Since the CB1 and CB2 receptors influence how you think and feel, the scope of the ECS is incredibly broad. It plays a crucial role in the regulation of our mood, memory, body temperature, immune functions, motor control, sleep patterns and our perception of pain and pleasure. It also has the ability to monitor fertility, pregnancy, reproductive systems, appetite, hunger, digestive systems and more. With its array of complex actions in our bodies, the ECS — in conjunction with our endocannabinoids — is like a bridge between our body and mind.
Getting to Know Your Cannabinoid Receptors
CB1 and CB2 were created as part of the ECS to receive our naturally generated endocannabinoids which carry messages from your brain. It is in the brain where an abundance of these receptors resides, far outnumbering any other type of receptor in our most important organ.
Cannabinoid Receptor 1 or CB1
The first known cannabinoid receptor, clusters of CB1 are concentrated in the nervous system and the brain. They are also present in the lungs, liver, and kidneys.
Cannabinoid Receptor 2 or CB2
These receptors reside mainly in the immune system, with an abundance located in the spleen and in the gastrointestinal system. CB2 receptors interact best with the endocannabinoid 2-AG and the celebrity medicinal cannabinoid CBD. This connection allows pain to be managed and immune system functions like inflammation to be regulated as well as appetite and much more.
Terpenes, Your ECS & "The Entourage Effect"
When several cannabinoids, terpenes, or a blend of the two groups enter your ECS their medicinal worth increases. Scientists haven’t been able to fully explain this process yet but that hasn’t stopped the health benefits from being noticed. This natural synergy is called ‘the entourage effect’.
This basically means strength in numbers, so when terpenes combine with other cannabinoids the medicinal effects are greater than if these compounds entered your system individually. So consuming one of our CBD-infused products with specifically added terpenes could activate this process.
DIY - Fixing an Imbalanced ECS
Science suggests that the causes of an ECS imbalance tend to be linked to an unhealthy diet, misuse of substances, illness & diseases, emotional stress and/or unlucky genetics. So what can you do to help your ECS restore its balance as it strives for homeostasis? Here’s some tips.
A 24-hour fast or a disciplined fasting routine will boost your levels of 2-AG. Not only does intermittent fasting benefit your ECS but it’s also been linked to better heart health, cancer prevention, reduced inflammation and neuroprotection.
Research has proven that “runner’s high” is actually your endocannabinoids at work. Thirty to 60 minutes of semi-intense exercise can raise the levels of anandamide in your blood.
It’s no surprise that this medicinal compound, with its abundance of therapeutic uses has a balancing effect for many people. It achieves this by inhibiting the reuptake and degradation of endocannabinoids. Yuluka Health’s chocolate, coffee, gummies and pet treats are all infused with organic, hemp-derived CBD that has been CO2 extracted and third-party tested.
Intake of omega-3s and other essential fatty acids can help your body boost its production of endocannabinoids. If you don’t eat seafood try supplementing your diet with eggs, flaxseed oil or chia seeds.
Experiment with dark chocolate, maca, black pepper, nutmeg, kava kava, truffles, ginger, hops, and several essential oils to discover what best suits your ECS.
Fifteen minutes of solar ultraviolet radiation can raise your levels of 2-AG, an important endocannabinoid. Getting outdoors more will give your ECS a healthy, natural boost.