Understanding the endocannabinoid system
Discovered by scientists in the early 1990s, theendocannabinoid system(SCE) is a system of biochemical signaling that exists in the brain and body of every mammal.
It consists of two essential elements:
- cannabinoid receptors, found in abundance in the brain and body;
- endocannabinoids, neurotransmitters responsible for signaling between receptors.
Every function of the human body requires homeostasis, or balance, to function optimally.
The endocannabinoid system is essential for regulating all the major physiological processes that help us achieve this homeostasis.
Two types of endocannabinoid receptors are currently known.
Cannabinoid-1 (CB1) receptors are mainly concentrated in abundance in the central nervous system, in our brain, but they are also found in our skin, our intestines , our lungs, liver and kidneys.
Communication between CB1 receptors is essential for the regulation of many physiological and cognitive processes, including pain sensation, appetite, mood, response to stress, memory, glucose metabolism, fertility and sleep.
Cannabinoid-2 (CB2) receptors are found throughout our bodies, in the peripheral nervous system, immune system, and metabolic tissues, as well as in many internal organs.
CB2 receptors are thought to help regulate immune function and inflammatory response, among other things.
Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin, that carry messages around the body.
The first endogenous cannabinoid to be discovered is anandamide, shortly followed by arachidonoylglycerol, but now we know there are many more.
It is still difficult for scientists to gauge the exact amounts we produce, as the body only synthesizes them when it needs them.
They bind to our CB1 or CB2 receptors (or both) and activate them, which sets off a chain reaction of events, directly and indirectly influencing a plethora of physiological processes that control pain, inflammation, mood and muscle control.
Many, if not all, conditions are believed to be the result of a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system. This situation occurs when our body does not produce enough endocannabinoids to ensure its optimal functioning.
The endocannabinoid system seems to be at the heart of our functioning, it could even holding the key processing previously incurable diseases such as fibromyalgia, migraine and irritable bowel syndrome.
CBD and the endocannabinoid system
The interest of CBD lies in its ability to activate these receptors.
We know today that its consumption allows in particular to act on the regulators of pain, sleep, anxiety, appetite, nausea, inflammation…
Research is still in its infancy, and it is very likely that the therapeutic potential of CBD is far greater than it seems.
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