Have you wondered why a growing number of states have chosen to legalize cannabis for medical or recreational purposes? Well, despite the marijuana prohibition that began over 80 years ago, a team of scientists were in the pursuit of unearthing the underlying mechanism of THC, one of the main phytocannabinoids in cannabis, and how it affects the human body. What they discovered was a receptor network that we now call the Endocannabinoid System.
At Blue Calm Doctors, our interests have only grown since learning of the ECS, and so, we have invested a lot of time researching this topic. By stimulating and supporting our ECS we can improve brain function and health. To better understand the ECS, we’d like to go over what the ECS is, the role it plays in the human body, and the ways you can help stimulate and support a healthy balance that is vital for your survival.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The ECS comprises enzymes, receptors and endocannabinoids. Think of a receptor working as a lock on the cell membrane, waiting for a specific key to activate it. When the lock and key come together, it signals the system to take action, thereby influencing multiple physiological processes.
Anandamide, aka the “bliss molecule”, and 2-AG are our main endocannabinoids. They are naturally produced within our bodies, and are the “keys” of the ECS. Anandamide and 2-AG are responsible for making sure that everything inside the body is running smoothly.
CB1 and CB2 are our main endocannabinoid receptors and are the “locks” of the ECS. The CB1 receptors are located in the brain and spinal cord of the Central Nervous System and the CB2 receptors are located in the immune cells of the Peripheral Nervous System.
So let’s say you were injured and experiencing pain. Your body will start producing endocannabinoids that will bind to the CB1 receptors located in the spinal cord in order to help relieve that pain. In other situations, they can bind to the CB2 receptors that are located in the immune cells to send out a distress signal of inflammation.
Enzymes play a pivotal role in the creation and destruction of endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are made on demand and only made when necessary.
Plant based cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) that are found in medical marijuana also interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. THC, CBD, and CBN are the “key” players here. When phytocannabinoids enter the bloodstream, they compete with endocannabinoids to bind to their respective receptors. For example, when THC binds to the CB1 receptors, anandamide cannot. This leads to increased levels of anandamide, or in other words, and increased state of bliss.
What is the role of the Endocannabinoid System?
The ECS is the maestro to the the symphony that is every physiological system in the human body. Its role is to keep us in balance, to keep us healthy. It is a powerful aspect of our physiology; that protects, heals, restores, calms, and promotes our overall well-being. We have this system built into us that monitors the body’s constant struggle between building itself up and breaking itself down. If injury or disease occurs, the system shifts from one that regulates wellbeing, pleasure and energy to one that restores balance and normal functioning.
Modulating ECS activity may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans. This includes chronic pain, neuropathy, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, neurogenerative, inflammatory, gastrointestinal, cancer, chemo-therapy induced nausea/vomiting, and substance use disorder among many others.
There are many ways that you can help stimulate your ECS!
If you want your body to function optimally, it is important to take care of the different systems within your body that help it to maintain a healthy balance. Chronic stress, poor diet, and chronic pain have all been shown to negatively impact ECS functioning and can lead to dysfunction. An endocannabinoid deficiency could mean there is not a rich expression of receptors or not enough enzymes that make or break down endocannabinoids. You can stimulate the ECS and restore balance with exercise, running, meditation, fish oil, detoxing, sunlight, fasting and Medical Marijuana.
Here at Blue Calm Doctors, we can help guide you in the process of modulating your endocannabinoid system and restoring its balance by finding the best treatment plan possible that is specific to your condition.
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