CBD and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) work in sync to provide maximum health benefits to us. CBD or cannabidiol is present in maximum quantity in hemp plants, which is a cousin of marijuana. Due to its abundance of CBD and less than 0.3 percent of THC in it, the hemp plant has even got a green signal from the federal US government after ‘hemp’ was removed from the Controlled Substances Act of the Farm Bill 2018. The bill now legally differentiate between hemp and marijuana. This has immensely benefited the hemp-based CBD product industry. From CBD-based eatables to skincare and health products — a whole new industry has emerged around CBD. This has been possible despite the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not confirming a regulatory pathway for cannabidiol.
Once the cannabis industry gets the FDA nod for hemp-based products, the industry has the potential to reach a whole new level. CBD has gained so much popularity in recent years that researchers are widely focussing on this particular cannabinoid only. And the reason is its unique chemistry with the endocannabinoid system of the body. This article shall discuss how CBD and ECS combine to provide benefits from some of the most critical illnesses.
Let’s break it down!
CBD and THC, what’s the difference?
CBD and THC are two sides of the same coin. They look the same and come from the same marijuana family, but they work differently. Apart from these two, there are almost 100 more cannabinoids present in cannabis. A cannabis flower also comprises terpenes and flavonoids, two more chemicals responsible for detoxification and aroma. This complex mixture of chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, makes marijuana or hemp, or cannabis, a unique plant. Now let’s come back to CBD and THC. Both chemicals hold certain properties that influence receptors, known as CB1 and CB2 receptors, which hold the power to control various bodily functions.
The ECS is also our body’s nervous system and its largest neurotransmission method. Receptors are tiny protein tissues that are present through our body. The CB1 receptor is primarily located in our central nervous system and around the brain areas, while CB2 receptors are present partly in the central nervous system and fully in gastrointestinal function, inflammation, and pain responses. When we consume THC-based products, it combines with CB1 receptors and acts as our body’s cannabinoids. This whole process stimulates the endocannabinoid system by CBD, thereby providing an additional boost that causes an extraordinary feeling in terms of intoxication or better known as “high”.
On the other hand, CBD does not stimulate the ECS system but acts as a reuptake inhibitor. For example, if someone does a workout regularly, your body releases a chemical “anandamide” when your physical stamina researches plateau. If you take CBD, the cannabidiol will suspend the reuptake of anandamide. This process will ensure anandamide will stay within the system for a longer period, which in turn will help us stay calm and energetic at the same time.
CBD and its effects on ECS
CBD brings in a whole lot of benefits when combined with existing cannabinoids present in the endocannabinoid system. It’s known to cause health problems associated with appetite and digestion. People facing metabolism issues have also benefited from cannabidiol. Chronic pain is something that concerns many people — it’s any bodily pain persisting for more than six months.
CBD provides much-needed support to the ECS to provide relief from chronic pain issues. Besides, inflammation also affects a large number of people. Anecdotal experience suggests CBD can provide relief even from the long-lasting inflammation problems since CBD is very much a big part of our popular culture. People belonging to all classes and sections of society use CBD to stay in a good mood, get a sound sleep after a hectic day at work and improve their memory. Based on this data, the WHO study found that clinical use of CBD is most advanced in treating epilepsy.
There’s also a pure CBD product, called Epidiolex, which has also been approved by the US FDA for use among children facing epilepsy problems.
Our cardiovascular system is also influenced by CBD. Its constant use can also improve bone growth. Those facing liver issues have immensely benefited from regular CBD intake. Once you delve into the online world of forums, you will find people sharing their experiences on how CBD even helped them improve their reproductive system.
Some commonly occurring health complications like stress, mood swings, nerve damage, and insomnia have also been cured with the help of CBD. Many people have fully cured their mental health issues like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). All these critical health complications have a direct link to CBD and the ECS system. With all this said and done, despite a significant amount of research being done in the area of CBD, a huge gap exists between personal experiences, cultural understanding of CBD, and what medical science says about CBD.
The Bottom line
CBD sure has numerous benefits to your endocannabinoid system. But, research in this area is still at a nascent stage. All these claims on its potential health benefits are either anecdotal or small scale studies. While experts are quite positive about its usage, they also believe, in-depth research could open a new stream of information on CBD. That’s why the US federal government has still not gone ahead with the full legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana in the country.
However, some recent developments are quite interesting, like positive signals from reputed international organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations. In its ‘critical review report’ in 2018, the WHO concluded that CBD might be effective against numerous medical conditions. It said research on CBD’s use in the treatment of epilepsy was in an advanced stage, while for others, there’s only “pre-clinical evidence” or “limited clinical” evidence. In all, it could have diverse applications. This year, the United Nations also voted to remove cannabis from the most dangerous drugs category after a series of recommendations from the WHO. The move has been welcomed by the whole medical science community and millions of cannabis users from across the world. However, there’s a lot that needs to be done to understand CBD better.