The Cannabis plant, and how it interacts with our own endocannabinoid system, is fairly fascinating and contains over 100+ cannabinoids, which are carbon-containing terpenophenolic compounds concentrated in the viscous resin of the glandular trichomes on the cannabis plant bud. There are psychoactive cannabinoids, such as Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), while others, such as cannabidiol (CBD), have NO psychoactive component, while offering profound healing properties when activating our own body’s endocannibinoid system (ECS) and is garnering a lot of attention in both the holistic and mainstream medical communities.
The human body responds to the cannabis plant because it also has it’s own organic cannabinoids – called endocannabinoids – which help establish and maintain human health. The endogenous cannabinoid system or ECS, named after the plant that led to it’s discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining optimal human health, or homeostasis. Just like your muscular, skeletal, immune, and cardiovascular system; you have an endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a group of neuromodulatory lipids and receptors in the brain and throughout the body that are involved in a variety of physiological processes including pain sensation, mood, memory, hormone management, synapse response, and motor learning. Whole plant hemp full spectrum CBD activates the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors found in the brain and body, bringing “nourishment” and effectual benefit. Endocannabinoids and their receptors (think: locks and the specific keys to unlock them, the cannabinoids) are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. In each tissue, the endocannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.
Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are also found at the intersection of the body’s various systems, allowing communication and coordination between different cell types. At the site of an injury, for example, cannabinoids can be found decreasing the release of activators and sensitizers from the injured tissue, stabilizing the nerve cell to prevent excessive firing, and calming nearby immune cells to prevent release of pro-inflammatory substances, called cytokines. Three different mechanisms of action on three different cell types for a single purpose: minimize the pain and inflammation caused by injury.
CBD, one of many cannabinoids but quite abundant in hemp, alters the ability for the body’s own endocannabinoids to engage with the primary binding site. This is theorized to alter “endocannabinoid tone”, which could be quite beneficial for certain medical conditions.
In a 2008 research paper, it was hypothesized that some people may experience an “endocannabinoid deficiency”. Within this research, it speculates that this deficiency is implicated in migraine or chronic headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia. Should more trials of CBD show positive results, this cannabinoid will continue to prove to be a powerful, therapeutic tool for many conditions or disorders of the body.
There is still much to learn about CBD. However, scientists have discovered that the compound does a lot more than engage cannabinoid receptors. The effects of CBD in the body are broad and far-reaching. Thus far, the cannabinoid, CBD, is known to also directly or indirectly affect the following:
• Vanilloid receptors (important for pain modulation)
• Adenosine receptors (important for the sleep-wake cycle)
• Serotonin receptors (important for mood and stress management)
Additionally, certain mouse models in research suggest that CBD may also work by blocking a particular fatty acid known as fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). The enzyme that’s responsible for breaking down the naturally occurring endocannabinoid anandamide in your body. Why is this important? Anandamide is also known as the “bliss molecule”. It helps regulate basic functions like pleasure and reward, appetite, ovulation, memory, sleep, and pain.
We certainly do not know enough, by far, about CBD. However, we do know that it has tremendous therapeutic potential. My prediction, and hope, is that we will continue to see peer reviewed research and study of this incredibly healing compound, proving without doubt or legal question, it’s profound therapeutic benefit in overall wellness and the treatment of certain conditions, disorders, and disease.