The Endocannabinoid System Explained - An Introduction To What's Inside Us

By Lisa Mae

At this point it’s impossible to not have at least heard about the hottest cannabinoid after THC, CBD. It seems like there’s no ailment it can’t help manage, from seizures to anxiety.

If you’re wondering how something from a federally illegal plant can help such a wide swath of patients, the answer has actually been inside of us all along.

Enter the endocannabinoid system.

Scientists have known about the endocannabinoid system since 1988, when they discovered that there is a receptor in the brains of mammals that responds to cannabis. Cannabinoid receptors were found to be the most abundant type of neurotransmitter in the brain, and in 1992 doctors discovered the first part of the endocannabinoid system, anandamide, also known as AEA.

The Sanskrit word ananda means “joy, bliss, delight,” and the effects of anandamide can be described as a feeling similar to runner’s high.

AEA is still being researched for its health benefits, but it was the jumping off point that opened the doors to the other cannabinoids, including our well-known friends THC and CBD.

So, we all have a system in our brains that literally responds to cannabinoids. Anyone who has smoked weed already knows this, but it is important to understand why the cannabis plant seems to have so many health benefits for so many people.

THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid that actually gets you high. There are two main types of THC, sativa and indica. The seasoned stoner knows that sativa strains can provide energy and euphoria, and the indica-dominant strains can create a lethargic effect.

Folks who are interested in exploring the health benefits of cannabis without either of these psychoactive effects will be happy to know many cannabinoids do not have any psychoactive effects, and CBD is one of those cannabinoids.

CBD is typically derived from hemp, a type of cannabis that has little-to-no THC but can have many other cannabinoids. It doesn’t get you high, and so there isn’t any regulation around it.

So what does CBD even do?

Anecdotal evidence suggests it can have meditative and calming effects, which is why it is said to help with anxiety. Cannabinoids are also a natural anti-inflammatory, so they are linked with pain management caused by arthritis and other chronic pain illnesses.

Hemp may not be the cure-all it’s claimed to be, but there’s no denying that our bodies can really benefit from it. If you’re thinking about adding hemp or CBD into your daily routine, it's normally best to start small to see how your body reacts.

See how you react to adding a small dose of CBD oil to your morning coffee, or maybe try out a topical salve. The effects may be minimal, but the long-term benefit is huge.

Your body and mind will thank you later!

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