Believe it or not, scientists still have a whole lot to learn about how our body functions. This was made crystal clear in the early 1990s when, after decades of research, experts from Israel unearthed the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Peculiarly, given what we know about modern medicine, the ECS has evolved to work with phyto-cannabinoids – rare compounds that come primarily from plants in the cannabis family. We also make our own version of cannabinoids, called ‘endocannabinoids’.
A balanced ECS is important for our health for a number of reasons, both physical and mental, due to the variables that are controlled by cannabinoid receptors that are located all over the body. In this post, we’ll explain how cannabidiol (CBD) products, a non-intoxicating type of cannabis, can be used for ECS regulation, which is beneficial for our immune system, mood, reproductive health, skin, perception of pain and more.
ECS regulation promotes a balanced immune system
The immune system is vital for protecting the body from infections and invasions. However, this complex system is also prone to volatility and overactivity, which can lead to high levels of inflammation and autoimmune diseases. Exercise, a healthy diet, a good sleep pattern and quitting smoking can all help to balance and strengthen the immune system, but so can regulating the ECS.
Taking CBD has been shown to have a regulatory effect on CB2 receptors, which are directly connected to the immune system. CB2 receptor agonists – such as anandamide, an endocannabinoid – have immunomodulatory properties, and help to balance pro and anti-inflammatory signals. This is essentially how CBD helps to balance the immune system, as it increases the blood concentration of anandamide, rather than binding to CB2 receptors directly.
ECS regulation is good for reproductive health
In addition to relieving pain, recent research on the ECS has shown that endocannabinoids – and therefore phyto-cannabinoids – are highly involved with the reproductive health of both males and females. Endocannabinoid signalling plays a part in fertilization, embryonic development and growth, and even labouring delivery, according to a 2014 paper featured in the International Journal of Endocrinology.
This also suggests that reproductive health issues may be resolved somewhat by CBD treatment. The cannabinoid can help to regulate stress, appetite and food intake, and perhaps even sexual behavior. It’s important to note that this research is preliminary, but the influence of the ECS on the body’s reproductive organs is not in doubt.
ECS regulation can boost mood
Studies have found that the ECS is implicated in mood modulation, by virtue of there being cannabinoid receptors (CB1) in the central nervous system, and particularly the limbic system which is heavily involved with emotional behavior. Anandamide is renowned for its antidepressant effects, and for being a key contributor to the ‘runner’s high’, a feel-good sensation that comes from a prolonged and intense burst of exercise.
Researchers have uncovered a link between endocannabinoid signalling deficits and depressive and anxiety responses. Meanwhile, administration of CBD has exhibited an antidepressant and anti-anxiety effect in preliminary trials.
ECS regulation appears to relieve migraines and fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia and migraines have sets of symptoms that are indicative of a dysfunctional ECS. This revelation was made – and has been advanced – by Dr Ethan Russo, a neurologist who specializes in cannabis. His theory of Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED) has gained traction since the early 2000s, and details why these conditions, as well as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are likely due to ECS regulation issues.
Russo has also studied which cannabinoid treatments are most effective for regulating the ECS, highlighting the potential of CBD, THC and combinations of the two cannabinoids. Koi CBD treatment not only regulates the CB1 and CB2 receptors, to alleviate pain, inflammation and brain fog, but it does so in a completely non-intoxicating way – a benefit not shared by THC solutions.
ECS regulation may improve skin quality
Scientists have found that the ECS is present and functional in the skin, and that it is involved with multiple processes, including hormone production, skin cell production and inflammation. A regulated ECS promotes healthy skin, with appropriate skin cell proliferation, and a calm immune system. However, a dysregulated ECS may contribute to common and notorious skin disorders, such as acne, psoriasis and less aggressive pains and itches.
Some argue that CBD creams are effective at relieving psoriasis symptoms by reducing skin cell proliferation to healthy levels. Others are enjoying benefits with CBD topicals for acne, with the cannabinoid seeming to regulate activity in the sebum-producing sebaceous glands.