The Human Endocannabinoid System 101

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In this article we’ll take a brief uncomplicated peek at the Human Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and why it’s so incredibly important to spread social awareness.

Wondering what’s causing all this cannabis-infused social change? Curious why society’s view of cannabis is transforming so dramatically across the western world? Want to know what’s brought about an end to hemp farming prohibition in America?

Your ECS, that’s what.

The faster social awareness and curiosity builds, the faster this important socioeconomic and ecological movement reaches critical mass, cannabis prohibition ends on all federal levels, and the countless wonders of this plant species may once again be unleashed upon our society for the betterment of all.

Introduction: The ECS Prime Directive

When you put plant-based cannabinoids, or “phyto” cannabinoids (PCs), from cannabis into your body you’re basically supplementing your ECS.

It’s quite similar in function to supplementing your body with protein powder before a workout to improve muscular recovery and hypertrophy. That said, the prime directive of your ECS is to maintain homeostasis in every aspect of your being, from the sub-cellular to the psychological. From protecting and repairing cells to modulating the neurochemical expressions of what we call contentment, energy, pain relief, appetite, anxiety, etc. Yeah…pretty complex to say the least and the sheer amount of research being pumped out is astounding.

The system is integral and you’ll find its network of receptors located throughout your body – primary organs, adrenals, central and peripheral nervous systems, covering the brain, connective tissues, bones, and on and on.

Another Immune System?

Sort of, but alas, it’s rather complicated. The ECS is much broader in scope. While your immune system in a general sense is there to fight off microbial invaders, the ECS is intermingled with literally everything – brain reward systems, metabolic processes, energy balance, pain modulation, cell maintenance, neurogenesis, and the list goes on.

It’s been evolving here on earth in plants and animals for an estimated 600+ million years.

Make no mistake, ECS-based medical science is still in its infancy. Humans have been using cannabis extracts throughout recorded history, but we’ve only recently discovered the ECS and begun to really investigate it with modern means and scientific understanding…within a sea of politics, corporate suits, and bureaucrats CBD research has just begun.

In fact, there’s only a handful of conventional medical schools in the US beginning to teach and focus on the ECS. What an exciting time! Doctors come to us and ask us our recommendations on dosing hemp-based CBD oils in private, how crazy is that? We’re talking a paradigm-level shift folks.

Like, we have to say to you, “Be sure to consult your doctor before using any of our CBD-rich products,” although everyone in this industry understands there’s a roughly 90% chance, if you ask your doctor about the ECS they’ll know relatively little (it’s changing fast). You might be better off talking to a cannabis professional who understands a bit more about how the ECS functions based on current research and experience with people incorporating cannabinoid supplementation into their life, which many of us do our best to follow as much as doctors would if they could focus their medicine on it.

But there really are no universal systems or system-wide oversight yet, not like the pharmaceutical industry is sporting. All we know is phytocannabinoids from cannabis are improving lives all over the damn place. And we’re starting to figure out why.

Basic Components of the ECS

Right, so you’ve got this ancient system hardwired into your body that’s job is to maintain health at every level of your being. This system is composed of…

  • Cannabinoid Receptors: The two primary receptors are CB1 and CB2.
  • Endocannabinoids: Endogenous (meaning your body makes them naturally like adrenaline or endorphins) cannabinoids of which there are primarily two that bind with these receptors – Anandamide and 2-AG, or 2-Arachidonoylglycerol.
  • Enzymes: The body creates cannabinoids on demand when needed, then breaks down and disposes them with Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH).

Now, there’s a wide array of terpenes and PCs in cannabis plants, both hemp and psychoactive strains, but the most important two are THC (psychoactive) and CBD (non-psychoactive), or Cannabidiol, which is in all cannabis plants to differing potencies depending on the specific cultivar of hemp or strain of  ‘marijuana-cannabis’ as its commonly called.

These cannabis PCs are interpreted by the body as plant-replicas (mimetic) of our endocannabinoids, so again, when you supplement with cannabis PCs your ECS uses them to do its work, whether that be causing cancerous cells to harmlessly commit suicide or modulating your metabolism to keep you trimmer. It’s the reason THC gets people ‘stoned’ and CBD produces the impacts it does. Without the ECS, these compounds would likely be useless to us.

  • CBD is mimetic to 2-AG.
  • THC is mimetic to Anandamide.

You as the consumer have two choices in terms of getting your hands on these phytocannabinoids from cannabis:

  1. Hemp-cannabis-based products which contain very low, less than 0.03%, THC and varying amounts of CBD up to thousands of milligrams in a tincture. These are legal, and can be bought online from sites like HempforFitness.com, but be sure to read up on cannabis oil before buying online.
  2. Psychoactive products almost always containing higher amounts of THC, along with CBD from many strains. These are only legally being sold in a handful of states and  “Recreational” or “Medical Marijuana” dispensaries. Ratios of THC to CBD are still all over the map. One product might contain 6mg THC and 10mg CBD, yet another provides 25% THC and less than 1% CBD.

Once in your body, they bind to varying levels with your receptors. While I could melt your brain with science and medical literature, we’re going to summarize the two cannabinoid receptors throughout your body with this quote from NORML’s Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System:

Cannabinoid receptors are present throughout the body, embedded in cell membranes, and are believed to be more numerous than any other receptor system. When cannabinoid receptors are stimulated, a variety of physiologic processes ensue. Researchers have identified two cannabinoid receptors: CB1, predominantly present in the nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, and organs; and CB2, predominantly found in the immune system and its associated structures. Many tissues contain both CB1 and CB2 receptors, each linked to a different action. Researchers speculate there may be a third cannabinoid receptor waiting to be discovered.”

How exciting, based on the two-receptor science so far, if there’s a third… my goodness! The health properties of cannabis plants are already so astounding.

Why We Focus on Hemp & Cannabidiol

First and foremost because it’s illegal to sell products online that contain more than 0.03% THC (fiber classification). With heavily lab-tested hemp this isn’t an issue. Our farmers grow specific cultivars, organically and sustainably, that test within legal limits of THC while containing a streamlined terpene profile and high levels of naturally occurring CBD.

And, listen, the VAST majority of positive health impacts and benefits from PC supplementation come from CBD. It’s the primary reason for the entire “Medical Marijuana” movement. THC is also extensively medically relevant to certain issues within the ECS, of course. But not everyone enjoys the effects of THC, or the “high” this cannabinoid causes when interacting with CB receptors in the brain. It’s also not always called for, although the entourage effect or synergistic way CBD works with other cannabinoids like THC, CBG, CBC, etc., is well-established.

Our products can’t get you high or stoned and you won’t fail a piss test. But, you can use them to provide your ECS with lots of extra cannabinoids it can utilize to do its work either in general throughout your body in a supplemental sense, or to address a specific issue throwing off your homeostatic state.

Wrapping Up

Oh, there’s so much more science I could include in this Human Endocannabinoid System 101-style content. In fact, it won’t surprise me AT ALL the first time I see a conventional med school course with the same title in college marketing material. We could make this article go on for 10,000 more words and many people have but the goal’s to provide you with a basic rundown on what the ECS is, how old it is, how important, and how it works.

Yes, you have an endocannabinoid system. Yes, the state of your ECS is influencing your health right now, or lack thereof. Yes, you should definitely investigate your ECS more as it will fundamentally elevate your understanding of how your body and health works. And finally, yes if you’d like to supplement with phytocannabinoids you can. The question is whether you want, need, or even have legal access to THC-containing strains with high CBD through a local dispensary. If the answer is no, then industrial hemp-based extracts, oils, and concentrates are a great way to get your cannabinoids without the psychoactivity.

Just remember, the real miracle here doing all the work is not cannabis but the ECS! Cannabis is just a way to supplement or strengthen the endogenous system.

Thanks for your time.