The Endocannabinoid System: How Hemp Oil Affects the Body
While researching hemp oils, you may have seen mention of the endocannabinoid system, which plays a large role in how full-spectrum hemp oil affects the body. We know it can be a little confusing, so we decided to outline the basics in an effort for you to better understand how hemp oil can work best for you.
About the the endocannabinoid system
The Endogenous Cannabinoid System — also referred to as the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, — refers to a collection of cell receptors and corresponding molecules located throughout the body – in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. Though it performs different tasks in each tissue, its ultimate goal is always homeostasis, or optimal balance, within the body.
Because of its ability to maintain homeostasis within the body, the ECS is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health.
How does the endocannabinoid system work?
Cannabinoids and their receptors work much like a lock and key. Two primary cell receptors, or the locks, make up the ECS, Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2). CB1 receptors are abundant in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are more often found on immune cells, in the gastrointestinal tract, and in the peripheral nervous system.
Because cannabinoid receptors are found in so many areas in the body, they are crucial for optimal health. In fact, they play a significant role in regulating many bodily functions, including:
Appetite, digestion, and hunger
Reproduction and fertility
Pleasure and reward
What is the endocannabinoid system?
Endocannabinoids are the chemical keys which fit with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. They send a message to your brain in order to get these processes started and also let the brain know when it’s time to stop. When this system is disrupted, you may experience dysfunction in some, or all, of the bodily processes listed above.
The body does produce some of its own endocannabinoids, however we obtain from food, especially omega 3 fatty acids. A study in 2011 linked a deficiency of Omega 3s with mood changes caused by poor endocannabinoid regulation. A diet rich in Omega 3s can also give your metabolism a boost and prevent obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes.(1)
While cannabinoid receptors are important for optimal health, enzymes also play a big role in ECS function. Enzymes essentially go in and clean up after the ECS, breaking down any leftover cannabinoids that haven’t found a receptor to bind with.
One specific endocannabinoid which gets a lot of buzz - anandamide, also known as the Bliss Molecule, - is a neurotransmitter which can positively affect the immune system, eating and sleeping patterns, and also pain relief. Anandamide works on both CB1 and CB2 receptors, and elevated levels of anandamide are believed to ease anxiety and nervous thought patterns. However, another enzyme, FAAH, works to breaks down any excess anandamide in your system.