4 Things to Know About the Endocannabinoid System
As CBD continues to rise in popularity, people are turning to online searches to find out more about what it is and how it works. If you are among the CBD-curious internet users, you have likely come across the term “endocannabinoid system” along with in-depth articles and complicated graphics. This isn’t a surprise given that the endocannabinoid system is a complex body system and one that plays a very important role that has only recently been discovered (more on that later in the article). Even so, you don’t need a Ph.D. to understand what the endocannabinoid system is, the role it plays in your everyday life, and how CBD interacts with it. Here, we offer a simple definition along with 4 key facts about the endocannabinoid system that will leave you feeling more knowledgeable and appreciative of the role it plays in your everyday life.
What Is the Endocannabinoid System?
The human endocannabinoid system (ECS) consists of several parts: endocannabinoids, receptors in the nervous system that endocannabinoids and cannabinoids bond with, and enzymes that help break down endocannabinoids and cannabinoids. It is a natural and crucial part of the human body. While experts are still learning about it, we do know that it plays a role in regulating a range of functions and processes, including sleep, mood, appetite, and memory.
In other words, your body’s ECS is an amazing system that works hard every day to help you achieve a state of balance. Now that you have a better understanding of it, let’s dive into 4 key things to know about the ECS today:
- It was not discovered until the 1990s. The endocannabinoid system was discovered about 25 years ago by Dr. L.A. Matsuda, who was the first to describe the structure and functional expression of the cannabinoid receptor, CB-1. While many strides have been made in researching the ECS, there is still much more for the scientific and medical communities to learn.
- It is why plant-based cannabinoids may have therapeutic effects. Cannabinoids, such as CBD, are believed to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help the body achieve homeostasis - or a state of balance so it can perform at its best. In fact, many CBD users report that it helps promote a sense of calm and focus and also helps to promote better rest*.
- All animals have one. That’s right, it’s not just us humans who reap the benefits of the endocannabinoid system. Because its existence was only discovered about 25 years ago, the majority of ECS-related research to date has revolved around humans.
- Diet may help support the ECS. According to Leafly, essential fatty acids such as hemp oil, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, sardines, and eggs (pasture-fed or omega-3 enriched only) can naturally stimulate the endocannabinoid system. Dark chocolate, echinacea, tea, and turmeric are also believed to contain compounds that can enhance the ECS.
The scientific and medical communities have only scratched the surface of all there is to know about the endocannabinoid system. While there is so much more to learn, we do know that plant-based cannabinoids like CBD have tremendous potential to interact with the ECS to promote daily recovery for our bodies and minds.
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