At Natural Ways CBD, we’re dedicated to showing our customers how CBD works, not just telling them that it works.
So, in this article, we’re going to discover how the endocannabinoid system, a system present in the body of all humans and most animals, allows CBD and other cannabinoids to render us massive benefits.
What is the Endocannabinoid System, and How Does it Work?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a transmitter system that is a natural part of the human body. Vertebrate animals, such as dogs, cats, birds, and fish, also have endocannabinoid systems.
The ECS is an essential piece of the puzzle: it’s responsible for regulating critical bodily functions such as sleep, learning and memory, the processing of emotion, pain control, inflammatory response, immune response, body temperature control, and appetite.
Those are some pretty critical functions, right?
In fact, Harvard Health says that the ECS “is critical for almost every aspect of our moment-to-moment functioning.”
The ultimate purpose of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis, or balance, in the human body.
How the Endocannabinoid System is Controlled
Now you know all the ways the ECS regulates our body.
But how does our body, in turn, regulate the function of the ECS?
The ECS is controlled by our natural bodily production of endocannabinoids, molecules that stimulate receptors in the ECS and tell it to adjust the systems that control appetite, sleep, or other things. The body naturally stimulates receptors in a way that allows us to maintain homeostasis.
In an ideal situation, our body is in homeostasis or close to it, and any minor disturbances can be addressed through the natural production of endocannabinoids.
However, sometimes our body is out of balance due to illnesses, stress, and other issues, and our ECS isn’t able to function as it needs to.
This is when CBD and other cannabinoids (externally-introduced endocannabinoids) are useful: they help our ECS work toward homeostasis when it cannot do so by itself.
This is why, in the right doses, CBD and other cannabinoids are perfectly safe to ingest: they help our body perform otherwise natural functions.
How Does CBD Affect the Endocannabinoid System?
Note: This is a high-level overview of CBD’s impact on the ECS; for a detailed look at how it interacts with specific receptors, see this article we wrote that dives into the CB1 and CB2 receptors in more detail.
Let’s take a look at how CBD affects the ECS, which in turn affects the way you feel.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System: The Science
As we discovered before, our ECS helps us maintain bodily homeostasis, or balance.
But when we’re out of balance due to things like inflammation, poor diet, stress, or illness, our ECS needs support to do its job.
Cannabinoids like CBD can support the work of our naturally produced endocannabinoids.
How CBD Complements our Endocannabinoids
It’s speculated that our ECS evolved over 500 million years ago.
Many scientists now believe the most important function of taking CBD is to prevent endocannabinoids from being broken down – CBD keeps the endocannabinoids we produce stable and intact.
This allows our natural processes to do their job better than they could on their own.
CBD and CECD
Ethan Russo M.D., Director of Research and Development at the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute, has theorized that something he calls “clinical endocannabinoid deficiency,” or CECD, could be the cause behind irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraine, and other treatment-resistant syndromes.
He published his theory and findings in a 2016 article that includes a review of more than 10 years of research.
Since the ECS is present throughout every major bodily system, its dysfunction can theoretically cause such a variety of conditions.
The concept of CECD may explain why some people suffering from certain chronic conditions get relief when they use CBD or other cannabinoids.
If CECD does play any kind of role in these conditions, targeting the ECS with cannabinoids could be the missing key to treatment, but more research is needed to confirm this.
How Cannabinoids Interact with the ECS
So, how do CBD and other cannabinoids interact with the ECS?
Do all cannabinoids interact with the ECS in the same way?
The ECS includes many different receptors.
The two most studied are CB1 and CB2. You can think of these receptors as locks and cannabinoids as keys.
CB1 receptors are found in abundance in the head and neck, while CB2 receptors are found primarily in the trunk and limbs. These receptors help activate the immune system.
The wide range of different cannabinoids can strongly or weakly bind to these receptors, which means they exert a variety of potential effects.
For example, it’s why some cannabinoids will produce a psychoactive effect, while others address inflammation.
The Benefits of CBD
CBD binds both to CB1 receptors in the brain and to CB2 receptors throughout the body.
Because of its versatile interaction with the ECS, CBD can offer a variety of mental and physical benefits.
- Promote mental relaxation
- Promote restful sleep
- Promote a normal inflammatory response
- Help you maintain healthy muscles, bones, and joints
- Promote heart health
And, out of these four main benefits stem many others. For example, when you’re mentally relaxed, you focus better, have a calmer mood, have more energy, and can think more clearly.
CBD’s versatility is why it’s one of the most popular cannabinoids out there!
How Other Cannabinoids Interact with the ECS
As we learned above, different cannabinoids interact with the ECS and its receptors in very different ways.
So, we’re also going to explore how some other popular cannabinoids interact with the ECS, and the benefits they can render you as a result.
The cannabinoid CBN (cannabinol) has some very mild psychoactive properties, and it interacts with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Because CBN can interact with CB1 receptors (which, remember, is mainly connected with the brain) without producing a feeling of being high, it has the potential to act as an anti-nausea agent and promote more restful sleep without giving you the overwhelming effects of THC.
CBG (cannabigerol) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that interacts with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
It’s versatility allows it to induce light mental relaxation while also giving you body-focused benefits such as promoting a normal inflammatory response, supporting a healthy metabolic process, and promoting muscle health and relaxation.
Because CBD’s benefits are centered on the mind, and CBG’s benefits are more body-centric, the two are most effective when used together.
The cannabinoid CBC (cannabichromene) interacts selectively with CB2 receptors and can help you maintain a healthy immune response.
And since CBC does not interact with your CB1 receptor, it doesn’t give you a head high.
Delta-8 & Delta-9 THC
Delta-8 and Delta-9, two variants of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC, interact with both your CB1 and CB2 receptors and give you the high feeling typically associated with marijuana (though we only sell hemp-derived versions of these cannabinoids).
As these cannabinoids activate both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, both are capable of delivering mental and physical relaxation, similar to CBD.
However, Delta-8 is psychoactive, while CBD isn’t, and Delta-9 is roughly twice as potent as Delta-8.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System: What to Avoid
If you’ve tried CBD or another cannabinoid and it hasn’t worked well for you, you may be pretty confused after reading about how cannabinoids are built into our body and are heavily responsible for the way you feel.
If this is the case, why isn’t your CBD working for you?
You might have purchased faulty CBD.
A study conducted in 2022 found that over half of the CBD products on the market in the U.S. don’t contain as much CBD as their labels claim they do.
So there’s a high chance that, if your CBD didn’t work, it’s because it wasn’t potent enough.
To solve this problem, ensure that you buy CBD from a reputable company that isn’t afraid to show you its third-party lab reports. If a company doesn’t have public reports that verify the efficacy of its products in writing, don’t buy CBD from them or it won’t interact with your ECS significantly enough to bring you any real results.
As you discovered today, CBD and other cannabinoids really are a natural part of the way our body works, and the endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating a lot of important functions!
One of the reasons we went into the CBD business was to give customers like you a natural alternative to prescription drugs.
Many prescriptions may work with the body’s systems in natural ways, but their extreme and sometimes deadly side effects show that they really aren’t designed for our bodies.
On the other hand, taking CBD in the proper amount can render huge benefits without causing any negative side effects.
Now that you know about the endocannabinoid system, you can explore the world of cannabinoids with full confidence that they’re the right fit for you!