Cannabliss - Keeping our bodies working in harmony
Introducing the endocannabinoid system
Keeping our bodies working in harmony
The human body is incredible in so many ways. There’s a respiratory system to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. A digestive system to turn the food we eat into nutrients for energy. And a musculoskeletal system to help us move around.
But there’s another system that’s not as well known: an internal communication system that maintains balance in the mind and body, and keeps our other systems working together in harmony. And until fairly recently we didn’t know it existed.
Body in balance
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a signalling system that’s responsible for regulating many different bodily functions, such as metabolism, appetite, memory, immune response and lots more. The ultimate goal is to create what’s known as homeostasis. This is where the body’s internal environment is optimum for its external environment. Not too hot or too cold, but just right.
It’s estimated that the ECS evolved in primitive animals over 600 million years ago. Getting its name from the plant that led to its discovery (the endogenous cannabinoid system), the ECS is an important system for maintaining health and wellbeing in the mind and body for all living organisms. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found in the brain, organs, connective tissue, glands and immune cells, performing tasks to regulate the body. This intricate endocannabinoid network also helps to facilitate communication and coordination between different types of cells, helping the body to perform many different functions. In the brain, cannabinoids can alter the mental state and behaviour, as well as aiding neurogenesis and plasticity.
Unlocking cannabinoid receptors
So far, we know about two cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are located throughout the brain, central nervous system, gut, connective tissue, and are thought to affect conditions like depression, IBS, inflammation, anxiety and blood pressure. CB2 receptors are located in the spleen, tonsils, immune system, gastrointestinal system and reproductive system and are believed to aid kidney and liver function, bone and skin health, pain-related illnesses, inflammation and even some cancers. CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors are found in all humans and animals, and researchers speculate that there may be more cannabinoid receptors soon to be discovered.
Maintaining equilibrium in the mind and body means making continuous adjustments to our internal state in order to account for changes in the external environment. Things like temperature, stress and the food we eat will all interact with our bodies in varying ways. Any disturbances to this balance, if not corrected, could affect our health, which could show up in the form of inflammation or disease.
If we think of receptors as the lock, cannabinoids are the key. Their job is to open the right doors to achieve homeostasis in the body. And our bodies create their own endocannabinoids, on-demand to meet our own individual needs. If you’ve heard of ‘runner’s high’, this post-run feeling of euphoria is a result of stimulating the ECS.
The body produces two main endocannabinoids: anandamide and 2AG, and these bind to our cannabinoid receptors. Anandamide gets its name from the Sanskrit word ‘ananda’ which means joy, hence why anandamide is sometimes known as the bliss molecule.
The cannabis plant contains phytocannabinoids (plant cannabinoids) which interact with our ECS. Cannabis and hemp plants are made up of hundreds of different cannabinoids, including CBD, CBG, CBN, CBG, THCV, THC and many more - the majority of which will not get you high. And these different cannabinoids unlock cannabinoid receptors to produce the necessary function. There’s growing research to support the therapeutic benefits of CBD for lots of different conditions, including chronic pain, sleep problems, anxiety, skin conditions, epilepsy, arthritis, Crohn’s, endometriosis and many more. Some scientists even suggest that clinical endocannabinoid deficiency could be linked to migraines, fibromyalgia and IBS.
CBD can be a great addition for general self-care and wellness, especially for our skin. At Graces London our roll-on moisturisers and balms are infused with broad spectrum CBD extract to treat your skin and nourish your ECS. Not to mention balancing the senses with sensual, natural aromas to lift your mind, body and soul.
A greener future
The cannabis plant has ancient origins, being used medicinally since as far back as the 29th century BC. As cannabis policy changes worldwide, the therapeutic benefits of nature’s oldest medicine and its interaction with the ECS are starting to be recognised and validated scienficially. This could mean promising developments in how we treat a whole host of different medical conditions. What’s becoming clear is that the cannabis plant has a very special relationship with the human body in ways we’re only just starting to understand.