The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system within your body. It is vital in keeping your body in a state of balance, known as homeostasis. The endocannabinoid system is acted upon by various forms of cannabinoid oil, especially CBD Oil.
Research and understanding of the ECS is still limited, but scientists have come to theorize that it plays a vastly important role in regulating everyday bodily functions, including everything from mood to appetite to sleep cycles.
The Discovery of The ECS
The ECS was discovered in 1990 by an American team of scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health, led by Dr. Lisa Matsuda. It was discovered by accident, however.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the U.S. government was reluctant to fund any kind of cannabinoid research because cannabis was universally considered a Schedule I drug at that time, a classification that has since changed. However, they were willing to fund research into the negative effects of cannabis.
This led to the creation of Dr. Matsuda’s team, who were assigned to try and discover more about the memory-erasing properties of cannabis, specifically marijuana.
What they found instead upended years of anti-cannabis movements. Dr. Matsuda’s team showed that human beings – and all other mammals – have an entire system for absorbing cannabinoids within the nervous system: The Endocannabinoid System.
What’s more? They discovered that human beings also produce our own cannabinoids internally, known as endocannabinoids.
How Does The ECS Work?
The ECS is a complex system, but it can be understood as having three basic components.
1. Endocannabinoids: Also called endogenous cannabinoids, these molecules are similar in structure to cannabinoids found in cannabis and cannabinoid oils but are produced naturally by the body.
2. Endocannabinoid Receptors: These receptors are found throughout the body and are used to signal to the ECS that some type of action needs to be taken. The two main endocannabinoid receptors are known as CB1 and CB2, both found within the nervous system.
3. Enzymes: These molecules are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids after they’ve carried out their function.
These three components work together within the body to promote healthy functionality. The very existence of the ECS and its components is also a key point of research for scientists trying to determine what effects cannabinoid oils have on our health and overall wellness.
How CBD Affects The ECS
It is known that THC, another prominent cannabinoid found in cannabis, interacts with the ECS by binding to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. However, scientists aren’t completely sure how CBD interacts with this system. The only thing scientifically known (for sure) is that CBD certainly does not bind with CB1 and CB2.
But the lack of scientific understanding surrounding CBD’s relationship with the ECS does not mean we’re completely unsure of what CBD does. There are two widely-accepted theories regarding how CBD affects the ECS:
1. The Enzyme Theory: This theory states that CBD works by protecting endocannabinoids from being broken down by enzymes. When defended against breakdown, endocannabinoids would have more time to signal commands to the brain, prolonging their beneficial effects on the body.
2. The Receptor Theory: This theory states that CBD is actually attaching to an undiscovered receptor in the ECS. Because it’s clear that CBD does not bind with CB1 or CB2, many scientists believe that we have yet to find CBD’s host within the body.
Until further research is conducted, it is unclear exactly how CBD influences or interacts with the ECS.
Cannabinoid Oil & The ECS
We now know that the ECS produces endocannabinoids, which are created internally and require no external stimulus. So what’s happening when you ingest cannabinoid oil?
For starters, cannabinoid oil can refer to cannabis-derived extraction. Cannabis is famed for its prolific concentration of cannabinoids, but the most popular cannabinoid oils are CBD Oil and THC Oil. However, CBD Oil is much more common and readily available.
Scientists have observed that ingesting CBD products stimulates natural internal endocannabinoid production. Other cannabinoid oils have also had a similar effect on the ECS. And because CBD shares a close molecular composition to endocannabinoids, it’s theorized that CBD should be able to perform a variety of functions.
What Functions Are Controlled by The ECS?
While research into both the ECS and CBD is young, early results have led to promising correlations between cannabinoids and the ECS. CBD and other cannabinoid interactions within the ECS may be linked to:
- Appetite and digestion
- Chronic pain
- Inflammation and other immune system responses
- Emotion, mood, and stress control
- Memory and learning
- Motor control
- Sleep cycles
- Cardiovascular system functioning
- Muscle formation
- Bone remodeling and growth
- Liver functioning
- Reproductive system functioning
- Skin and nerve functioning
These attributes contribute to bodily homeostasis, each regulating an aspect of your internal environment. However, these are just scientific observations. More research is still needed before scientists can claim exactly what effect cannabinoid oil, specifically CBD Oil, has on the ECS.
What’s Next For CBD & The ECS?
This month, the U.S. government approved $3 million in grants for CBD research. These research grants are focused towards discovering the exact relationship between CBD and pain, as well as other potential uses for the compound.
Through this research, we may learn a great deal more about the endocannabinoid system, as well as how CBD interacts with this system. Currently, there are a variety of well-accepted theories surrounding the future of CBD and cannabinoid oil use, and scientists are already discussing which medical conditions could be affected by CBD.