CBD is a remarkable compound. It is one that we are only beginning to learn more about and understand. The basics start with the endocannabinoid system, which every human being has in our body. Yes, that’s right, we are all born with receptors for cannabinoids.
Let’s begin with some technical information. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a vast network of chemical signals and cellular receptors that are packed throughout our brains and bodies.
These receptors are present in our central nervous system, as well as in arteries, heart, spleen, the urinary and reproductive systems, in the gastrointestinal tracts, and the endocrine glands.
The ECS is what’s known as a transmitter system (also called a neurotransmitter). A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger that carries, boosts, and balances signals between nerve cells (also called neurons) and other cells that they target throughout the body. These target cells can be in glands, muscles, or in other neurons.
There are more than 40 neurotransmitters in the human nervous system. Some of the most important neurotransmitters that you might have heard of include:
- norepinephrine (a stress hormone that promotes vasoconstriction, which is a narrowing of the blood vessels, and increases blood pressure)
- dopamine (affects mood, movement, memory, and focus - when the brain has a healthy level of dopamine, we feel good)
- gamma-aminobutyric acid (also called GABA, it blocks or inhibits certain brain signals and decreases activity in your nervous system – without the right GABA levels your central nervous system would have too many neuronal signals that could result in epilepsy, seizures or mood disorders like anxiety or depression)
- serotonin (plays a key role in mood, sleep, digestion, nausea, wound healing, bone health, blood clotting and sexual desire)
- histamine (involved in immune responses to allergens)
One example of a transmitter system you might know well is the sympathetic nervous system, which gives us our fight-or-flight response. That’s quite the list, we know! You can see how important these neurotransmitters are.
The endocannabinoid system modulates the function of the body and brain. This is where CBD comes in. The endocannabinoid system’s activity may be modified by exogenous cannabinoids. Exogenous cannabinoids are cannabinoids you introduce into your body from an outside source, for example by taking CBD.
Cannabinoid receptors in our bodies, known as CB1 and CB2 receptors, are the primary binding sites for endocannabinoids. If we want to get technical, CB1 is a G protein-coupled cannabinoid receptor that in humans is encoded by the CNR1 gene and expressed in the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system. CB2 exists mostly in our immune tissues and is critical to helping control our immune functioning and plays a role in modulating intestinal inflammation, contraction, and pain in inflammatory bowel conditions.
Map of endocannabinoid system and CB1 and CB2 receptors (from International Journal of Molecular Science accessed on MDPI)
The cannabinoid receptors in the brain outnumber many of the other receptor types in the brain. That’s how important they are! They act like traffic cops to control the levels and activity of most of the other neurotransmitters. This is how they regulate things: they turn up or down the activity of whichever system needs to be adjusted, whether it’s hunger, temperature, or alertness.
To stimulate these receptors, our bodies produce molecules called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids have a structural similarity to molecules in the cannabis plant. All of us have tiny cannabis-like molecules floating around in our brains. Humans have been using the cannabis plant for thousands of years to help augment our existing chemical and physiological systems and the interactions therein.
OK—that’s a lot of science. What does it mean, in a nutshell? Every human body has an endocannabinoid system. This is a naturally built-in way to regulate the body’s (and brain’s) complex systems of neurotransmitters that give cause to the ebb and flow of our moods, sleep cycles, temperatures, inflammations, and pain responses, among other things.
But sometimes our lives move us out of balance or veer to the extremes. Sometime the aging process takes hold and things naturally deteriorate. Other times our bodies just need a little help. CBD from hemp plants contain cannabinoids that can be introduced into the body help to augment your endocannabinoid system.
A good way to think about it is that CBD is reinforcement sent in to help your body support and regulate itself so it can bring everything back into balance and you can be your best balanced you.
Flora Sophia products contain the full spectrum of all cannabinoids contained in the hemp plant to help your body stay balanced and manage anything the day throws at you in the best possible way.
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