A Beginners Guide to The Endocannabinoid System & Endocannabinoids: The 'Natural' Feel-Good Molecule
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is the essential balancing system in our body. The Endocannabinoid system (ECS) and its receptors aid in maintaining and modulating the balance of many of our physiological and pathological processes. The Endocannabinoid System is made up of cannabinoid receptors known as CB1 & CB2 receptors, lipids (endocannabinoids- a naturally occurring substance) and the enzymes to break down endocannabinoids. Our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids when we ingest certain foods like omega 3 & 6 fatty acids. Our body also stimulates the endocannabinoid system by engaging in stress reducing activities like aerobic activity, socialization, meditation and maintaining a healthy diet. Many of us have the best of intentions when it comes to treating our bodies well. But maintaining wellness in a society that promotes illness is difficult. Below we will outline important key points and give you some take aways to implement in your life to feel better!
CB1 & CB2 Receptors
CB1 receptors are mainly found in the Central Nervous System (Cerebellum, Basil Ganglia, Hippocampus, and the spinal cord- in small amounts). Not only are CB1 receptors found in the Central Nervous System (CNS) but they are found in the CNS more than any other part of the body. This leads us to believe when the flared receptors here bind with endocannabinoids, the endocannabinoids modulate the functions of the CNS back into balance. Functions of the Central Nervous System include coordinating movement throughout the entire body, controls thoughts and emotions and regulates breathing, heart rate, pain, and the release of hormones. CB2 Receptors are mainly found in our white blood cells and immune tissue. CB2 receptors also regulate the release of cytokines. Cytokines regulate the immune system, stimulate red blood cells, aid in developing and repairing damaged tissues, and acts as the communicator between all the cells in the body. When the body senses distress, it will release cytokines which search for their intended receptor- bind to it and get to work repairing what has been damaged. Cytokines are responsible for aiding the body when inflammation is present in joints, muscles, tissues, and organs.
Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters and act as chemical messengers in the body. Endocannabinoids are made naturally by our body, can be ingested when eating omega 3 & 6 fatty acid rich foods or taken as supplements in the form of hemp derived cbd. Some familiar Endocannabinoids are Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabinol (CBN), Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Anandamide (AEA), 2-archidonoyl glyerol (2-AG), Cannabichromene (CBC) just to name a few. Researchers believe there are hundreds more, but their roles have yet to be discovered.
Endocannabinoids are produced by the body on an as needed basis; however, when a person experiences a deficiency in endocannabinoid’s, it can disrupt mood, sleep, digestion, coordination. By no fault of one’s own, endocannabinoid deficiency can be caused by genetics or environmental factors like oxidative stress from free radicals. In order to combat endocannabinoid deficiency, below are some active steps you can take to ensure your body remains in balance and functioning at optimal performance.
Here are some food’s you can eat to ensure proper Omega 3 & 6 intake:
Hemp Hearts (Omega 3 & 6)
Walnuts (Omega 3)
Sardines (Omega 3)
Salmon (Omega 3)
Cod Liver Oil (Omega 3)
Flaxseed (Omega 3)
Chia Seed (Omega 3 & 6)
Soybeans (Omega 6)
*Coffee & Alcohol consumption suppress the endocannabinoid system
Here are some stress reducing activities you can incorporate in your life to stimulate the release of naturally occurring endocannabinods:
Engage in any activity that is healthy and creates happiness (gardening, sewing, cooking, hiking, walking, laughing)
Aerobic Activity (increased heart rate)
Nadis Shodhonna Yogic Breathing/ Deep Breathing
Yoga & Meditation