How CBD Supports The Body’s Endocannabinoid System?
The popularity of Cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabis extracts has continued to grow in the past several years. This growth exploded after a CNN special documentary called WEED, where Dr. Sanjay Gupta explored the benefits of cannabis extracts, such as THC and CBD, on variety of patients. Specifically, Dr. Gupta interviewed a family with a child suffering from dravet syndrome (a form of epilepsy). After uncovering the benefits that CBD was able to offer Charlotte, one has to pose the question: How do cannabis extracts actually help our bodies?
Cannabinoids And The Endocannabinoid System
Historically, the uses and benefits of cannabis are well documented in a variety of different civilizations. This includes societies formed across Asia, Africa, and even in the early days of the United States. Yet, up until the late 1900s, we never actually knew how cannabis actually interacted with our bodies.
In 1992, one of the pioneers of cannabis research, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, discovered an internal system that directly interacts with cannabis extracts. This system was found to work closely with our body’s neurotransmitters and regulatory system. It had receptors, now called CB1 or CB2, all throughout the body. The research team had uncovered a bodily system that was "involved in regulating a broad range of biological functions.”
What was further discovered was that this internal system reacted to what we call cannabinoids. Scientists were able to also confirm that cannabinoids can be created in two ways:
- The body naturally creates substances that activate the CB1 or CB2 receptors. These are called endo-cannabinoids
- Cannabis plants create cannabinoids as well, also called phyto-cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that can be extracted from the cannabis plant. To this day, more than 100+ cannabinoids have been found, but two of them are the most common and well-known: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).
How Cannabinoids, Such As CBD, Interacts With The Endocannabinoid System?
So how do cannabinoids, such as those found in CBD oil, actually work with our internal endocannabinoid system? Simply put, cannabinoids act by binding or triggering our internal receptors. Overall, cannabinoids are known to offer “negative feedback” to our neurons. For example, when somebody is suffering from pathological conditions, such as strokes or epilepsy, it is because the neurons are overexcited. By inhibiting such neurons, cannabinoids help decrease the activity of the target cells and helps protect it from over-excitement of the neurons.
Thus, cannabinoids along with the endocannabinoid system work as part of the body’s “general protective network, working in conjunction with the immune system and various other physiological systems,” according to Dr. Mechoulam
Why Take CBD Oil When Our Body Generates Endocannabinoids?
So if our body naturally creates cannabinoids, why do we need to intake more through phytocannabinoids, such as CBD? Researchers have come up with several different reasons why humans could be deficient of endogenous cannabinoids. This could be the result of poor diet, lack of exercise, drug abuse, environmental toxins, chronic stress, or even genetic factors. Thus, cannabinoids derived from cannabis can be tremendously helpful to boost our internal cannabinoid levels.
As a society, we have been cannabinoid deficient for many decades, considering hemp and cannabis have been prohibited for most of the 20th century. Now that science has come to validate historical anecdotal evidence that cannabis offers numerous health benefits, we can only hope for continued deregulation of hemp. So maybe one day, we can freely take cannabis extracts as a daily supplement.