What’s the Endocannabinoid System?
Did you know that you have a “bodyguard” working 24 hours a day looking out for the balance of your internal body environment? This “bodyguard can communicate instantly with every cell via neurotransmitters in your brain and in every system that also keeps your body alive and alert. The name of this amazing “bodyguard” is the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The word endocannabinoid is made up of ‘endo’ which means internal or within, and ‘cannabinoid’ which means a group of closely related compounds constituents of cannabis. The reason for calling ‘cannabinoids’ the chemical compounds the body makes is that they activate the same receptors in the brain that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) also activates. THC is a compound produced by the cannabis plant.
Scientists who have studied the compounds found in the cannabis plant, have also found that they are compatible with those produced by the endocannabinoid system of humans and animals.
How long has this information existed?
The benefits and the many different uses of the cannabis plant have been known and shared globally for thousands of years. The misuse and abuse of these compounds from this great plant led to restrictions of its use.
In 1988 two scientists, Allya Howlett and William Devane found that the brains of mammals respond to cannabis compounds. As more studies were made with phytocannabinoids and their effects on mammals, the endocannabinoid system was discovered.
Let’s see what the endocannabinoid system is all about.
The endocannabinoid system is a system that brings balance whenever there is a disequilibrium in the internal environment of the body. The ECS guards the body and works with other body systems to maintain healthy internal conditions. You might be wondering how this amazing system works. Well, when the ECS detects a problem, the body makes special chemicals called endocannabinoids.
These endocannabinoids bring stability by interacting with receptors which are in the brain and everywhere else in the body. Up to now, researchers have found two types of receptors. They are called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found in the brain and in the spinal cord. CB2 are receptors found in the rest of the body where there are nerves. By using these receptors the ECS can regulate the functions of other systems in our body, thus creating balance. The ECS does not stop there; it also uses enzymes to control the activity so that it is not overdone.
Think about this.
Although much power is attributed to the ECS, it does not mean that it is not vulnerable to become incapable of doing its job.
Your body will not demand action from the ECS if you live a healthy life because there would be no need for the ECS to regulate or balance any condition. But reality tells you that you are exposed to situations of stress, foods, medicines, and surroundings that can disturb your health. There are also substances like alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and medicines that when they are used in excess, they can have negative effects on the ECS.
If the body is unable to use or produce its endocannabinoids, failure to sustain balance in the body could happen. In other words, if the ECS cannot function properly, the body will become sick. When this happens it loses its ability to regulate its functions and many unhealthy conditions could appear.
You could alleviate the symptoms of unhealthy conditions temporarily with prescribed and over the counter drugs. However, when bad habits, toxic living conditions, and a stressful environment accompany the consumption of these drugs, your health is at risk and as a result, your ECS suffers.
Supporting Our Endocannabinoid System
You can begin supporting your ECS by improving your diet with foods that have an abundance of specific nutrients that will rebuild your cells and organs and contribute to the overall function of your body’s systems including the endocannabinoid system.
You might eat just food you like, but this food might not contain the nutrients needed to support your ECS. Here is where supplements can help. Supplements of Omega-3 and Omega-6-fatty acids have been shown to support the ECS. It has also been known that the body does not produce them. It is also important to keep a balanced consumption of these fatty acids since excess can be counterproductive.
Vitamin E, which is found in cereal, eggs, vegetables, wheat germ oil, nuts and seeds, and in supplement form, has many benefits. Some of these benefits include a healthy nervous, circulatory and digestive system. People use these supplements to avoid diseases and conditions that result from the overuse of medicines. Vitamin E is also known to help slow down the processes that damage cells.
Another way that you can help your ECS is taking probiotics and prebiotics which are also beneficial for the overall state of health. They support the good bacteria that live in the gut. This is essential for keeping a balanced digestive track. The healthier all your systems are, the less work is imposed on your ECS.
Plants are not only one of the great life-supporting kingdoms on our planet, they are also healers and keepers of good health. The fruits, seeds, leaves, aroma, resins, barks and other parts of plants have been used for thousands of years to nourish, heal, delight and bring balance to human conditions.
Studies have shown that some plants have compounds that help to support the endocannabinoid system. The cannabis plant, for example, has compounds that can interact with the functions of the ECS. Cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) have been researched and studied, and have shown to help bring balance to many health-related conditions by working with the ECS.
Many more compounds found in medicinal plants and edible parts of plants are being used to alleviate pain and support conditions because they have cannabinoid-like compounds.
Other ways you can support your ECS are by learning how to manage stress, massage, and acupuncture. They have been known to help the ECS because they eliminate states of anxiety and stress which hurt our bodies.
The endocannabinoid system is as important as are all the other systems that are constantly working to sustain your body. Continue learning about its functions and also practice how to keep it in excellent health.