Endocannabinoid System 101

Endocannabinoid System 101

Endocannabinoid System 101


CBD, or cannabidiol, might be the most popular topic in the world of holistic health these days.  It has rightfully claimed center stage, given its plethora of healing properties and the miraculous success stories that increase in number daily.

 

Before we dive into the wonders of CBD in later blog posts and how it helps your body re-establish homeostasis, it always feels right to start with the basics:


Which brings me to the Endocannabinoid system, or ECS.


Incredible amounts of peer-reviewed research shows that the ECS regulates every function in your body related to homeostasis, largely due to its balancing and potent anti-inflammatory effects.


Your body has cannabinoid receptors, or CB receptors, woven throughout the entire system.  This intricate network of receptors provides numerous avenues to assist the body in healing, simply by providing cannabinoids to optimize cellular functioning and communication.  


To date, there are two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2.  CB1 receptors are most abundant in the central nervous system and in the brain. CB2 receptors densely populate the immune system and are even found on white blood cells, responsible for controlling inflammation and fighting off pathogens.  These receptors are also found in your organs, connective tissues, and glands: essentially, everywhere. Due to their concentrated presence in the body, the ECS is essentially a master control program, in charge of keeping your entire system in equilibrium & harmony.


When things are in balance, your body easily handles stress and maintains a beautiful symphony of functioning even in the presence of high demands.  On top of that, biochemical processes that govern everything from detoxification, pain, memory, energy, appetite, sleep, hormonal levels, moods, and your immune response all root back to the signals from your ECS!


Our bodies naturally make cannabinoids (known as endocannabinoids:anandamide and 2-AG), that work in conjunction and help to balance our ECS.  Ideally, these “bliss” chemicals circulate when needed to keep the body functioning optimally.  You feel energized when you wake up, stable & focused  throughout the day, hungry when it’s time to eat, and easily glide into peaceful slumber.


Unfortunately, chronic stress--whether emotional, environmental, spiritual, or physiological-- not only depletes the levels of these “feel-good” chemicals, but decreases the number and functioning of the receptors these chemicals can bind to.  Our world is overflowing with toxins, and sadly, our cells carry the burden. In effect, imbalances cause you to feel worse and your body inefficiently struggles to get you back to baseline.  


When cellular health begins to decline, detoxification becomes sluggish, and in turn, every system begins to shift towards inflammation to create the perfect chronic health disaster.  At this point, issues begin to emerge in the gut, causing nutrient assimilation, sleep, mood, & hormones to go haywire.  Aches become more painful, and life starts to feel scrambled & out of whack.  Can anyone relate?


Fortunately: it’s FIXABLE!


Many chronic diseases, such as PTSD, epilepsy, and IBS, are now classified as “clinical endocannabinoid deficiencies.”  Again, that gives us the empowering opportunity to reverse these diseases, organically, with the help of cannabinoids.


By supporting the production of your bodies endocannabinoids, supplementing with cannabinoids derived from plants, and eating in ways that nourish the receptors these chemicals bind to, your body has the essential building blocks to steer back to a state of vibrant health.


First steps?


Start loading up on the essential fatty acids that build up these “bliss” chemicals in your body.  Omega-3 fatty acids, abundant in wild-caught fish, act as fuel for your ECS.  Sardines, salmon, and grass-fed beef are excellent sources, with the added bonus of tasting delicious.  


If you’re vegetarian, don’t despair! Flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are amazing sources of Omega-3.



In addition, studies have found that compounds in chocolate actually allow endocannabinoids to circulate in the body longer.  By blocking the enzyme FAAH, chemicals like anandamide, 2-AG, and CBD can leave you feeling fabulous, longer!  


So celebrate with a nice salmon fillet and a large chunk of dark chocolate, knowing that you’re helping your body to heal itself, naturally.