How does CBD affect the Endocannabinoid System?

What is The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?

Every person has an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for keeping all of your bodily systems in balance with one another as you encounter stress throughout your daily life.

When our bodies detect a threat, they will release stress chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline to help us stay alert, focused, and to help us protect ourselves better.

During this ‘threat’, muscles can tense up to help us defend ourselves. We may also breathe harder and faster to pump oxygen through our bodies, and our heart rate rises. Once the threat is gone, your body has to rebalance itself.

This is where the endocannabinoid system comes into play. The endocannabinoid system controls and regulates how quickly neurotransmitters are being released. It slows them down or speeds them up as necessary in order to return to and maintain internal homeostasis after you’ve handled a threat.

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The ECS is the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. It’s made up of receptors embedded all over your body. When cannabinoids stimulate the receptors, scientists believe our bodies communicate more effectively with themselves. 

Our endocannabinoid systems promote homeostasis affecting everything from sleep, appetite, pain, inflammation, memory, mood, and even reproduction. To sum up, the ECS helps modulate the regulation of homeostasis across all major body systems ensuring that all systems work in sync with one another. 

How does The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) impact Disease?

Studies on the ECS have found that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in many diseases. As the ECS helps bring balance to the body, it’s no surprise that scientists have observed changes in ECS activity in a number of diseases.

Everything from neurodegenerative disorders to rheumatoid arthritis and cancer have shown changes in endocannabinoid levels and greater receptor expression. This suggests that the ECS may be an effective target for restoring balance in the body and promoting good health. 

Research into cannabis decades ago first led scientists to the discovery of the ECS. As a result of this initial research, it also led to it being named ‘cannabinoid’.

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How does CBD affect the Endocannabinoid System?

One thing many people don’t know is that our bodies naturally produce its own cannabinoids, these are endocannabinoids (endo meaning ‘inside’). As with any other nutrient, sometimes we can become a little deficient and need some extra help.

This is where cannabis can help, as the cannabis plant also produces cannabinoids, these are phytocannabinoids (Phyto meaning ‘plant’). These phytocannabinoids interact and aid/ restore the endocannabinoid system in our bodies.

It is hypothesised that cannabidiol also causes the enzyme that should break down anandamide to not work as efficiently as normal, leading to an increase in concentration of anandamine in the system.

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Does CBD Help Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

Various research has revealed that small doses of natural cannabinoids help support the ECS and enhance its signalling. This suggests that small, regular doses of naturally occurring cannabinoids from hemp and other plants might act as a tonic to our most central physiologic healing system.

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The cannabis plant has been commonly used in a variety of ways for thousands of years for a wide-range of ailments and conditions worldwide. In more recent times, cannabis and its derivatives are now being studied as a potential therapy for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease

Research on the effects of cannabis for IBD suggests that CBD oil works to ultimately:

  • Balance the immune system
  • Calm/ reduce inflammation
  • Support healthy neurological function
  • Promote mood support
  • Reduce Pain

*One study on cannabis and IBD stated: “studies show different levels of elements of the ECS in murine and human IBD models. Further delineation of mechanism of action is needed to determine whether these results are pathologic or reactive effects to inflammation. However, cannabinoids appear to have a clear role in gut pathology and offer a potential target for drug intervention in the treatment of IBD.” (NCBI: Therapeutic Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease).

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This is a Therapeutic Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: :

Patient Stories

This is a 14 year old and Crohn’s disease:

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