Your endocannabinoid system is where all the magic happens. It’s the vehicle CBD uses to deliver its benefits and support to your body, from head to toe. Researchers are still discovering a lot about how the endocannabinoid system works and the way cannabinoids like CBD can have a positive holistic impact on our overall wellness.
If you’ve ever wondered why CBD makes you feel so good, here’s a primer on what’s happening when you take your daily dose.
What Is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system (often abbreviated ECS) isn’t a specific place in your body, like your digestive or nervous systems. It’s a part of the fabric of everything your body does. Your endogenous cannabinoid system is made of countless receptors within you, from the surface of your skin to the depths of your bowels.
Researchers have positively identified two unique cannabinoid receptors: CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. There are theories that there may be as many as five different types of cannabinoid-specific receptors.
In addition to cannabinoid receptors, your body contains many other receptors that cannabinoids can influence. Vanilloid receptors and receptors that are members of the transient receptor superfamily (TRP) will also respond to cannabinoid influence, although they’ll do so a little differently than cannabinoid-specific receptors.
Broadly speaking, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis. It helps the body maintain proper balance within many systems. It can support the way some processes work in an effort to make them more efficient.
What Are Endogenous Cannabinoids?
Your endocannabinoid system exists because your body produces cannabinoids. Your homemade cannabinoids, called endogenous cannabinoids, are made by your body to stimulate the system into action.
The two main endocannabinoids produced by the human body, anandamide and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), are still being studied for their roles and responsibilities in maintaining the human body. Researchers have difficulty studying them because it’s difficult to catch them at work in real time.
The body produces them when it needs to produce them and uses them up just as quickly. They’re self-administered, and researchers don’t have a definitive answer for what prompts their production.
Endogenous cannabinoids play a role in regulating emotions and assisting with the body’s response to pain. Anandamide seems to be released when the body reaches natural states of healthy euphoria, like when marathon runners experience a “runner’s high” or when you get a flush of positive endorphins from riding a rollercoaster.
What Systems Does the Endocannabinoid System Support?
The endocannabinoid system is genuinely massive. The role of the endocannabinoid system is to provide support almost everywhere. Receptors in numerous systems of your body can influence important processes in many ways.
The endocannabinoid system works to support your:
- Immune system and immune cells
- Digestive system
- Reproductive system
- Central nervous system
- Peripheral nervous system
- Mood processes and stress response
- Inflammatory response
- Sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm)
When people call cannabinoids like CBD a holistic wellness aid, it’s because it has the potential to support full body wellness, including emotional wellness. The scope of the endocannabinoid system is so vast that cannabinoids, endogenous or from another source, wouldn’t pinpoint a single area of focus.
What Is a Cannabinoid?
Cannabinoids are compounds produced by people, plants, and animals. When a person’s boy produces a cannabinoid, it’s called an endogenous cannabinoid. When someone uses a cannabinoid from another source, like a plant, it’s called an exogenous cannabinoid.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid that naturally occurs in cannabis plants. Most CBD products on store shelves are derived from federally legal FDA-regulated hemp. Hemp plants aren’t a different type of plant. Hemp is a term used to describe any cannabis plant that produces a maximum of 0.3% THC by its weight.
CBD is one of over 100 known cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant. Although every cannabinoid is technically different, many of them are very similar. They exist in different forms throughout the stages of their life and evolution.
The two major cannabinoids naturally occurring in the cannabis plant are cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol. They’re vastly different from each other and regulated differently under the law.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive cannabinoid of cannabis, is part of a larger family. When most people talk about THC, they’re referring to delta-9 THC. Delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC are also psychoactive. Acidic forms of THC, like THCA, and THCV, can also have psychoactive properties.
CBD is a unique cannabinoid because it doesn’t have a very large family — it isn’t psychoactive, so it won’t make you feel high.
Minor cannabinoids, like CBN, CBG, and CBC, are being studied for their potential therapeutic uses. Many cannabinoid wellness products are formulated with additional minor cannabinoids to shape their profile of potential effects.
How Does CBD Interact With the Endocannabinoid System?
Cannabinoids can interact with the endocannabinoid system in one of two ways: by binding or by influencing the receptors.
Anything that binds to a receptor in your brain or body has the potential to change the way that it works. Your receptors are constantly sending and receiving signals to each other throughout your body via your neurotransmitters. A bound compound can change the way those messages are relayed. This can lead to the feeling of being elevated (which is a fancy way of saying “get you high”).
Some cannabinoids influence endocannabinoid receptors in passing. They don’t have a binding affinity, which draws them to specific receptors and causes them to latch on. They provoke receptors into responding by performing their natural functions.
CBD influences receptors without binding to them. It doesn’t do anything to change the way your body works. It encourages your body to perform its natural functions to the best of its ability. The benefits of CBD don’t come directly from CBD but from the reaction CBD prompts.
What Are the Benefits of CBD?
The internet is a treasure trove of interesting information. If everything you read is to be believed, you might be under the impression that CBD can wash your car, empty your dishwasher, and record your outgoing voicemail message. There’s a lot of misinformation circulating about CBD, but it can support a lengthy list of benefits and effects.
Because the endocannabinoid system is intertwined with so many other systems, the stimulation that CBD provides can support your body’s ability to manage many important processes. Current research suggests that CBD has the potential to provide powerful support for the endocannabinoid system, which may provide a whole host of holistic benefits.
When people say that CBD eases feelings of stress, reduces tension throughout their body, helps them sleep at night, and gives them a boost of clarity, they may be right. Many people describe the experience of using CBD as generally feeling better.
The benefits may not be specific to a single wellness concern. CBD can address many things at once, which makes it hard to pinpoint exactly what is different.
How Much CBD Do I Need To Experience the Benefits?
There is no official recommendation for how much CBD someone needs to experience the benefits. Researchers use very high “therapeutic” doses of CBD to measure its effects. Therapeutic benefits are usually seen between 200 mg and 500 mg of pure, isolated CBD. That’s much more than the average person would use daily.
You have a lot of wiggle room to figure out what works for you. The benefits of CBD are largely a personal experience. You may need more or less than your friends and family members who use CBD. Most people start with about 15 mg a day and try that for a week or two to see how it feels.
If you need more, you can gradually increase your dosage until you find the sweet spot. Remember that you can always take more CBD later.
Don’t go straight for a large dose until you understand how CBD affects you. Starting at a low dose will also save you money. If you’re only using as much as you need, you won’t run out as quickly.
Can You Use Too Much CBD?
It’s almost impossible to use too much CBD. Your endocannabinoid system isn’t susceptible to overdose like the systems and receptors that respond to things like pain medication. It’s a completely different receptor type; CBD doesn’t lock onto your receptors, so it’s not possible to fatally overdose on CBD.
Doses as high as 2,500 mg of CBD have been safely used in humans. To give you an idea of just how much that is, it would be almost 17 whole jars of our Chill gummies in a single sitting. It would be really hard to accidentally ingest that much CBD, even if you drank a whole bottle of CBD oil.
How Does the Entourage Effect Change CBD?
Some CBD products contain CBD isolate, which is just CBD and nothing else from the hemp plant. Many CBD products are full-spectrum CBD products, meaning they contain everything the hemp plant contains.
Full-spectrum CBD contains aromatic compounds called terpenes, lipids, plant waxes, phytocannabinoids, and antioxidant compounds called flavonoids. When you use full spectrum CBD, it’s more than just CBD interacting with your endocannabinoid system.
Some experts believe that the effects and benefits of full-spectrum CBD have the potential to be greater than the effects and benefits of CBD isolate. The theory of the entourage effect is very simple: the cannabis plant produces all of these compounds in unison, and they live in harmony. They’re meant to work together, and they’re more effective when allowed to work together.
Cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds from the hemp plant interact with each other. CBD and THC work to play a cat-and-mouse game. THC attempts to bond to the endocannabinoid receptors in your brain and body, and CBD chases them off. With CBD modulating the effects of THC, the psychoactive effects are less profound.
Many cannabinoids have similar relationships. They can enhance each other or change the way other cannabinoids work. This can create a unique effect profile for each strain of cannabis, including the hemp used to make CBD products.
Terpenes have their own value. Terpenes are the fragrant compounds that make things like essential oils, fruits, and flowers aromatic. They play the leading role in aromatherapy, which is effective at modulating mood. CBD may not be able to make you feel specific emotions, but some people find that aromatherapy can.
Bright, citrusy smells can make you feel happy or energized. The soothing aroma of lavender can help you chill out. The sharp, cool smell of mint might make you feel peppy and alert. The same terpenes that give these plants their sensory superpowers can also be found in cannabis. If you can use them to shape your experience, why throw them away?
Wrapping It Up
Researchers have uncovered a lot about the human endocannabinoid system and how endocannabinoid signaling may play a crucial role in the way the body works. Cannabinoids may have therapeutic potential, especially in their ability to modulate important systems within the body.
CBD can provide your endocannabinoid system with the stimulation it needs to promote your overall wellness in a holistic way. Add CBD into your wellness routine and experience the effects for yourself.
Diverse TRPV1 responses to cannabinoids – PMC | National Institutes of Health
Anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol: pharmacological properties, functional features, and emerging specificities of the two major endocannabinoids | National Institutes of Health
The Truth Behind ‘Runner’s High’ and Other Mental Benefits of Running | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Minor Cannabinoids: Biosynthesis, Molecular Pharmacology and Potential Therapeutic Uses | Frontiers in Pharmacology