Understanding the Endocannabinoid System

When people hear about ECS, (a.k.a the endocannabinoid system), they often link a relationship in their mind to cannabis and marijuana. The reason why marijuana is being applied as a treatment for a number of health aliments is due to its affect on the ECS. This system wasn’t talked about much in mainstream health news but is now becoming recognized everywhere.

The ECS is one of the primary systems found throughout the entire body and is connected to almost every organ. Cannabainoid receptors can be concentrated in certain areas. The receptors that are found in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system are called CB1 receptors, and the receptors that are found in the GI tract and found in immune cells are called CB2 receptors.

The role of the ECS

The role of ECS is to help regulate bodily systems and help to bring homeostasis to the following:

  • Immune System
  • Digestive Function
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Stress Response
  • Cognitive Function
  • Pain Response
  • Endocrine System
  • Fertility
  • Appetite

Cannabis is now being used frequently as a treatment for health conditions such as immune disorders, chronic inflammation, pain, seizures, and mental disorders that may not be responding well to traditional therapies – and who do not want the toxicity associated with certain drugs.  People often respond well to marijuana due to the THC that creates a high by binding to the CB1 receptors. Although, it is NOT necessary to rely on cannabis (or getting high) to see promising results.

CBD Hemp oil comes from industrial hemp. It is another alternative to using marijuana for its medicinal properties, although contains less than .3 percent THC (so you won’t be affected by it) and it can be sold legally for ingestion.

 

There are also food and plant sources of cannabinoids called phyto-cannabanoids.

What are Other Forms of Cannabainoids?

1. Cacao

Cacao contains an endocannabinoid called anandamide that is also a neurotransmitter produced in the brain. It helps to regulate mood, memory pain sensitivity and appetite. Anandamide produces chemicals to make you feel good. It’s not just the chocolate that makes you so happy… Take note that to get the benefits, you’ll need to eat dark chocolate or cacao and raw or organic is best. The commercial versions offer little benefit.

2. Echinacea

Echinacea is known globally for its immune defense and inflammation, but that is also related to how it engages the ECS. It contains alkylamides that engage with your CB1 and CB2 receptors. It can also help alleviate migraines, anxiety, fatigue and joint pain.

3. Kava

Kava has been used for its effects against anxiety, pain, and sleep. It contains compounds called kavalactones that interact with CB1 receptors. It has a similar effect to the THC in cannabis but it’s recommended to take in the evening so you can relax yourself right into bed.

4. Green Tea

Green Tea can support the endocannabinoid system through its catechins that bind to the cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system. They are also anti-inflammatory and help to protect the brain. Green tea is known for its catechin EGCG which is the most powerful for supporting the endocannabinoid system.

5. Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 Fatty Acids are essential for brain health and your nervous system. Most of the foods today contain too much Omega 6 and are deficient in Omega 3. These essential fatty acids also work on the endocannabinoid system by upregulating both CB1 and CB2 receptors. The best way to get your Omega 3’s are by consuming fatty fish, flax seed oil, organic eggs, walnuts, grass fed beef as well as beans and lentils.

The Importance of Exercise

Exercise is a great way to stimulate the endocannabinoid system. While foods and supplements are effective, exercise can stimulate CB1 receptors which can help protect the body against stress. You just want to be sure you are doing exercises that are pleasurable rather than too strenuous. Walking, yoga, bicycling in the park, martial arts, and weight lifting are all good examples of ways to give your body a heightened sense of well-being.