What is the Endocannabinoid System?Put simply, the Endocannabinoid System (or the “ECS” for short) is the biological system in our bodies that manages homeostasis. It evolved over 600 million years ago (waaaaay before humans). And can be found in mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and even invertebrates! You’ve probably heard of the Respiratory System that regulates the lungs and the oxygen in our cells, or the Digestive System which manages the gut and processes the food we eat, or the Immune System that keeps us safe from germs and other nasties. The ECS is just another system giving your body commands. So that it functions properly and keeps you healthy.
How does the ECS work?The ECS manages chemicals called “endocannabinoids” (“endo” as in, endogenous to ourselves) that interact with specific receptors in our bodies — the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Like a key to a lock, the endocannabinoids “unlock” the CB1 and CB2 receptors, releasing enzymes that help regulate the other systems’ unique functions. This means the ECS helps our blood flow smoothly, our synapses fire on time. Our hormones release (or not!), and our bodies balance.
Everyone is born with their ECS in tip top condition. But as we get older and we experience stress, we produce fewer and fewer endocannabinoids. Eventually, our bodies don’t function as optimally as they did when we were younger. And over time, the imbalance can manifest as a smorgasbord of different physical and mental health issues.
Over time, the imbalance can manifest as a smorgasbord of different physical and mental health issues.
How does the CBD work to enhance the ECS?External, natural chemicals called “phytocannabinoids” (“phyto” as in, phytogenetic, or from plants) can help replenish our body’s ECS where our endocannabinoids left off. Created by plants like Cannabis Sativa, phytocannabinoids include cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC — the psychoactive component of cannabis). There are over 100 other phytocannabinoids in Cannabis Sativa, and each of them work to increase the effectiveness of the others — including CBD and THC. This collaboration among chemicals is called the “entourage” or “ensemble” effect. The entourage effect is incredibly powerful, especially in full-spectrum CBD products. Full-spectrum products contain very tiny amounts of THC as an ingredient. (Less than 0.3%, so it won’t cause any psychotropic effect.) Which is a key component in helping the other phytocannabinoids like CBD attach to your ECS’s CB1 and CB2 receptors (making them way more effective!).
For reference, products that are called broad-spectrum CBD contain some phytocannabinoids other than CBD, and offer a slice of the entourage effect. However, CBD isolate doesn’t contain any other phytocannabinoids, and so it doesn’t have any assistance from the entourage effect. It’s important to note that broad-spectrum and isolate CBD products are processed to contain no THC whatsoever. And are therefore naturally less effective within your body’s Endocannabinoid System. It’s a lot like eating an apple versus eating apple sauce or drinking apple juice. The whole plant will have more of the valuable nutrients for your body than a processed product!
Broad-spectrum and isolate CBD products are processed to contain no THC whatsoever, and are therefore naturally less effective within your body’s ECS.