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You’re probably aware of your digestive and nervous systems, but have you heard of one of our body’s most essential structures – the endocannabinoid system? Researchers more recently discovered the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which controls many of our most critical functions like sleep, eating, learning and memory, emotional processing, and pain. The ECS even manages how our body interacts with cannabis.

The ECS encompasses cannabinoid (compounds found in cannabis) receptors, seemingly proving that our bodies were made to consume marijuana as medicine. So, how does cannabis work with the ECS? How does CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system? What about THC?

Elevate Holistics is here to explore CBD and the endocannabinoid system and how THC affects the endocannabinoid system.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

Researchers exploring THC discovered the endocannabinoid system in the early 1990s. The ECS is a vast cell-signaling system that regulates our bodies throughout the day, controlling the majority of our functions. Can you believe researchers only discovered it less than 25 years ago?

Its functions include:

  • Learning and memory
  • Appetite and digestion
  • Pain control
  • Mood
  • Inflammatory and immune responses
  • Sleep
  • Nerve functions
  • Motor control
  • Bone growth
  • Muscle formation
  • Liver function
  • Stress
  • Reproductive functions
  • Cannabis regulation

The system consists of many components including endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids, or endogenous cannabinoids, are cannabinoids the body produces. (Cannabinoids are the molecules found in cannabis.) The main endocannabinoids are anandamide, also known as the “bliss molecule,” and 2-arachidonoylglyerol. 

The ECS performs different tasks in different areas of the body, but it is always striving for homeostasis – the maintaining of internal stability while adjusting to changing external conditions. 

When a body is physically damaged, for example, endocannabinoids are called on to reduce inflammation, protect neurons, and more. Thus, endocannabinoids homeostatically regulate all body systems: cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, excretory, immune, nervous, musculoskeletal, and reproductive. 

Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids bind to two receptors in the ECS: CB1 receptors, which are abundant in the central nervous system, connective tissues, and organs, and CB2 receptors, which are primarily found in your peripheral nervous system and immune system. 

Scientists believe these receptors to be more plentiful than any other receptor system. Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids can bind to both receptors, one or the other, and sometimes neither. It depends on the molecule’s function. 

After they finish their job in the body, enzymes break down endocannabinoids and cannabinoids.

How Cannabis Stimulates the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system connects the body and mind. Some researchers have found that the ECS explains how states of consciousness can promote health or disease. 

Our bodies have naturally made endocannabinoids to help us function and ease our ailments, but can cannabinoids found in cannabis help these processes? Is it important to supplement our body’s endocannabinoids with cannabinoids found in nature to promote health?

It’s clear that cannabis provides a plethora of therapeutic uses for the body, mind, and soul. No matter the ailment, physical or beyond, patients often find that cannabis helps their condition. The history of cannabis shows that humans have been reaping the benefits of weed for thousands of years. But how does one plant have such an influence on so many different discomforts?

Cannabinoids play a direct role in the neurotransmission of many nerve cell types, protect against cell death, and more. Thus, cannabinoids from cannabis can even create more endocannabinoids and build more cannabinoid receptors in the body. 

These endocannabinoids and receptors are critical to our being and ease each function. This shows that not only can cannabis help treat existing conditions, but it also acts as preventative healthcare.

The Endocannabinoid System and CBD

CBD has potential anti-anxiety, anti-convulsive, anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor properties. So how does CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system? 

CBD hasn’t been found to significantly interact with CB1 or CB2 receptors. Instead, many researchers believe that CBD and the endocannabinoid system interact due to CBD’s ability to prevent anandamide from being broken down or its antioxidant properties. 

If CBD prevents anandamide from breaking down, that means that we have more of the “bliss molecule” in our bodies. Researchers believe this is why CBD helps treat anxiety.

When it comes to other ways CBD and the endocannabinoid system could interact, researchers discuss how cannabinoids affect neurogenesis. CBD increases neurogenesis (the process of forming new neurons in the brain) without any side effects. This could help individuals unlearn old limiting patterns and beliefs, as well as promote overall open-mindedness. 

THC also increases neurogenesis but produces psychoactive side effects – which is not a bad thing, just simply a side effect. Based on the entourage effect, consuming the full cannabis plant profile (CBD, THC, CBN, CBG, etc.) produces synergistic benefits in which all the compounds work together for maximum medicinal relief. 

But wait, how does CBD affect the endocannabinoid system? The existence of one or more additional receptors for cannabinoids is being explored, and that could also be the case for the endocannabinoid system and CBD. Research is still ongoing when it comes to the question: how does CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system?

How THC Affects the Endocannabinoid System 

What about the popular psychoactive compound in cannabis THC? Does THC bind to the endocannabinoid system? Unlike CBD in the endocannabinoid system, THC can bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. 

Because of this, the effects of THC on the body can vary from pain, seizure, and nausea relief to sometimes anxious states. (Always combine THC and CBD if you suffer from high anxiety.)

So, what does THC do to the endocannabinoid system? THC is similar to the “bliss molecule,” anandamide. But THC isn’t broken down by enzymes as quickly as anandamide, meaning the high induced by THC will stick around longer and have a greater effect than the bliss molecule. Compared to what we know about the endocannabinoid system and CBD, how THC affects the endocannabinoid system is much more obvious.

Connect With Your ECS Through Elevate Holistics

So, how does CBD interact with the endocannabinoid system? With the discovery of the ECS system being fairly recent, scientists aren’t yet sure. But learning more about how THC affects the endocannabinoid system, along with other molecules, is getting us there. Overall, because cannabis stimulates the activity of the ECS, it is a great treatment option for a variety of conditions that the ECS controls.

Would you like to begin your cannabis journey and find out how medical marijuana can help you? Elevate Holistics offers a fully online, secure process to get your medical marijuana card. We connect you with a cannabis physician for a virtual appointment and help you the rest of the way.

Book an appointment to get your MMJ card with Elevate Holistics to start feeling better naturally.

Do you need more advice on using cannabis as healthcare? Elevate Holistics also provides additional services like a virtual consultation with a cannabis nurse upon booking.

Elevate Holistics keeps its patients up to date on the world of weed with our blog. From CBD and the endocannabinoid system to the latest state laws, we have the information you need. Sign up to receive our newsletter to stay in the know.

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About the author

Michael Lawal is a seasoned content writer with specialized expertise in the medical cannabis industry. With a background that blends journalism and health sciences, Michael has a knack for translating complex medical cannabis research into accessible and engaging content. His writing portfolio showcases a range of work from informative articles and research summaries to patient education materials. Committed to raising awareness about the benefits and responsible use of medical cannabis, Michael's work is a valuable resource for both consumers and professionals in the field.
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