Cannabinoid receptors unlock benefits of cannabis
(Part 2 of The Endocannabinoid System)
If you’ve been reading our ‘blog for awhile now, you know Natural Ways believes strongly in cannabis education. Everyone from our staff to our customers is encouraged to learn and share their knowledge about CBD and cannabis, and we strive to make sure the information we present is accurate and useful.
Last week, we explored the Endocannabinoid System, or ECS, a system within the bodies of all humans and animals that works in the background to establish and maintain a state of balance called “homeostasis.”
When a person or animal achieves homeostasis, their body is operating at peak functionality. Factors that affect homeostasis negatively include illness, inflammation, stress, poor diet, and drug/alcohol abuse.
Image source: By Valeri Natole
Throughout the body, including within the ECS, are receptors, molecules that receive and transmit signals to cells. These receptors are found either on the surface or in the interior of cells.
In the case of the ECS, the information carried by the receptors is critical to the body’s ability to restore and maintain its overall functional balance.
Researchers have identified two receptors known as CB1 and CB2 (for “cannabinoid receptor 1” and “cannabinoid receptor 2”) that are responsible for determining how the body will respond to an intake of cannabinoids, including CBD.
Have you ever experienced the soothing benefit of CBD or the relaxation from CBN? That’s your endocannabinoid system with the CB1 and CB2 receptors firing on all cylinders to support your physical and mental wellness!
So, really, how does it work?
Before we dive into how CB1 and CB2 operate, it’s important to differentiate between endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids are made by your body. They are the body’s own version of cannabis compounds. They can bind to either or both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Phytocannabinoids develop naturally in the cannabis plant, whether that plant is low-THC hemp or high-THC marijuana. When introduced into the body, phytocannabinoids also bind to the CB1 and/or CB2 receptors.
First, let’s look at endocannabinoids, the cannabinoids your own body makes as it needs them:
Experts have identified two key endocannabinoids so far:
- anandamide (AEA)
- 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG)
These naturally occurring cannabinoids are made by the body “on demand,” so it is difficult at this point to know exactly what constitutes an optimal level of either one. What we do know is that their levels can fluctuate and be affected by what’s going on elsewhere in and outside the body.
When it comes to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, your body’s own endocannabinoids bind to them in order to signal that the ECS needs to act. The result you ultimately experience will depend on where in the body the cannabinoid receptor is located, and which endocannabinoid binds to it.
- CB1 receptors are mostly found in the central nervous system
- CB2 receptors are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells
Now let’s explore phytocannabinoids, the cannabinoids made in the cannabis plant that you can ingest or absorb by eating, drinking, smoking/vaping, or applying to the skin in a topical form.
When phytocannabinoids are introduced into the body they, too, bind with the CB1 and/or CB2 receptors. Some phytocannabinoids bind more strongly to one receptor than another. Some act as “agonists,” meaning they do not bind well to either receptor but instead make it more difficult for other cannabinoids to do so.
The best example is CBD (cannabidiol), the cannabinoid found in the greatest abundance in hemp.
CBD doesn’t bind well to either CB1 or CB2 but instead it “stands in the gap” to modulate the degree to which other cannabinoids do bind.
Scientists have discovered that CBD reduces the potency of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. When taken together, as in a full-spectrum CBD product, the CBD modulates the psychoactive effects (“high”) of THC.
CBD allows you to achieve an overall body benefit without the head high that many people either don’t like or don’t need.
Even though CBD doesn’t bind well to either CB1 or CB2 – because that’s not its primary function – it does bind well to other receptors in the body, and it activates still others! These various actions contribute to CBD’s “Swiss army knife” profile.
It is why CBD can address so many different issues including bodily comfort and mobility as well as enhanced mental and emotional health!
Supporting your ECS
When your endocannabinoid system isn’t functioning at its best due to stress, illness, poor diet, or other environmental factors that affect wellness, supplementing with phytocannabinoids like CBD, CBN, CBG, or Delta-8 THC may help.
Note that we always recommend our customers consult their physician before adding cannabinoids to their wellness regimen, especially if you are currently taking prescription medications or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
We believe in giving our customers choices and that means we offer a variety of enhanced tinctures featuring higher concentrations of cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, or CBC.
Visit our online store and explore the different categories under the Shop tab.
You’ll be amazed at what Natural Ways has to offer, and you’ll love our competitive pricing!
Experience the Natural Ways difference and be sure to share our website with your friends and family so they can browse, learn, and shop, too.
There’s something for everyone at Natural Ways!