As you may (or may not) remember from Biology class, the human body is made up of eleven major organ systems. These are the respiratory, skeletal, muscular, reproductive, circulatory, digestive, urinary, integumentary, nervous, endocrine, and lymphatic systems. These systems work together to perform specific functions in the body.
The discovery of the Endocannabinoid System
In the 1990’s scientists discovered the presence of another system called the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. All animals have an ECS, which is made up of two known cannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2, as well as enzymes for producing endocannabinoids. Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body, including the brain, the organs, and the immune system.
What the ECS does
When the ECS is working properly, these endocannabinoids help to regulate processes like sleep, appetite, digestion, motor control, immune function, reproduction, inflammation, pain, appetite, metabolism, mood, memory and more.
The ECS keeps all the major organ systems in balance so that they can efficiently work together.
If the body fails to create enough cannabinoids however, and the system is thrown out of equilibrium, diseases can begin to develop.
Plant derived cannabinoids
Cannabinoids are also produced naturally in the cannabis plant. These are called Phytocannabinoids (phyto meaning plant) and research has shown that in cases where the body is not creating enough cannabinoids on its own, phytocannabinoids can be used as a supplement.
Although there are over 100 different phytocannabinoids, the two most common are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and Cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the psychoactive compound which produces a high, and cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound.
THC usually binds with the CB1 receptors which are mostly located in the central nervous system and the brain, and for that reason may provide relief from a number of conditions such as depression, pain and nausea.
CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are found mostly in the gastrointestinal and immune system, bind mainly with the CBD compound, and may help with conditions such as inflammation and regulating appetite, just to name a few.
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Phytocannabinoids are an amazing supplement to help support and balance the endocannabinoid system, but there are also some simple lifestyle changes that be very beneficial.
- Studies have shown that lack of sleep can throw the ECS out of balance. So make sure you get a good night’s rest.
- Because it is believed that endocannabinoids are derived from dietary fats, a diet rich in healthy fats, omega-6 and 3s and linoleic acid is essential.
- And finally, make sure you get plenty of exercise, which has been found to naturally stimulate endocannabinoid production.