Rebalancing Your Endocannabinoid System
These days, with the busy lives we live, more and more people are suffering from high levels of stress which can have harmful effects on the human body.
When stress builds up, the body can only do so much as it tries to achieve homeostasis or balance. While there are many effective ways of reducing stress, like yoga and meditation, sometimes the body’s imbalance can be a deeper issue.
The biological system
To grasp the concept of the “biological system”, imagine the human body like an engine. The human “engine” has different segments that work on movement, thinking, appetite, growth, repair, etc.
While every component works independently, it has to take signals on when and how much it should work. The system that regulates those signals is called the Endocannabinoid System.
The endocannabinoid system or ECS is the molecular system responsible for regulating multiple functions in the human body, including immune response, appetite, metabolism, memory, and more. The ECS works by following a communication system of receptors found throughout the body that receive input from neurotransmitters.
What are neurotransmitters and receptors?
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers of the body that convey information from one organ to another. On the other hand, receptors are chemical receivers of an organ that accept the neurotransmitter’s data. The ECS has two such receptors known as CB1 and CB2.
- CB1 is primarily found in the brain, with some in the heart, muscles, liver, lungs, kidney, bone, and fat.
- CB2 is mainly found working with the immune system and blood cells, but is also present, to a lesser amount, in the nervous system, muscle, bone, liver, and gut.
The importance of the endocannabinoid system
If it isn’t already evident from the information above, the ECS plays a significant role in bodily health and homeostasis because of its presence in multiple organs.
- One study indicates that factors affecting CB1 receptors from functioning correctly can cause anxiety and depression .
- At the same time, another study describes the importance of CB2 receptors and their role in managing inflammation. The researchers concluded that a problematic state of CB2 receptors is associated with people who have increased instances of inflammation .
- The third study illustrated how the ECS is responsible for maintaining bone health. Via the CB1 and CB2 receptors, the ECS links the brain to the bones to generate bone formation and resorbs old and damaged bone cells .
3 natural approaches to rebalancing your ECS
1. Fatty Acids
The ECS is a natural system of the body. What better way to correct the body from imbalance by naturally stimulating it.
The body makes endocannabinoids via fat-based precursors such as Omega-3 fatty acids. Having a consistent supply of Omega-3 fatty acids allows the ECS to replenish its endocannabinoids frequently.
Fatty acids are relatively easy to acquire as they are present from dietary sources or food. For example:
- Fatty fish such as Tuna or Cod
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Flax seeds
Some of these food sources may be hard to come by or aren’t readily available. In this case, Omega-3 fatty acids can be supplemented by soft gel capsules and tinctures.
With cannabis legalised for medicinal use in Australia back in 2016, cannabidiol (CBD) has become increasingly popular as an alternative therapy used for rebalancing the endocannabinoid system naturally.
As endocannabinoids are molecules similar to cannabinoids, they are produced by your body. CBD elicits its effects on the body by working closely with the ECS – as CBD mimics the ECS neurotransmitters to interact with CB receptors.
One example of CBD being used as a natural alternative is described by a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information . In the study, CBD is described as the chemical that helps regulate pain control and inflammation by inhibiting pro-inflammatory molecules. The study also mentions that cannabinoids such as CBD display synergistic effects with other body systems that influence pain relief.
As the medicinal cannabis market grows in Australia, CBD-based products are becoming varied in forms. Some of the most common product forms include:
- CBD oil
- CBD edibles such as cookies or gummies
- CBD creams
Exercise, specifically aerobic exercises, induce the body to release endorphins and anandamide that specifically interact with the ECS.
Aerobic exercises such as running, according to this study , stimulates the ECS. As such, the activation of the ECS leads to effects such as euphoria and pain relief.
1. Patel, S. and Hillard, C. J. 2009. Role of Endocannabinoid Signaling in Anxiety and Depression. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3808114/
2. Turcotte, C. et al. 2016. The CB2 receptor and its role as a regulator of inflammation. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5075023/
3. Bab, I. et al. 2008. Endocannabinoids and the Regulation of Bone Metabolism. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2826.2008.01675.x
4. Manzanares, J. et al. 2006. Role of the cannabinoid system in pain control and therapeutic implications for the management of acute and chronic pain episodes. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18615144/
5. Fuss, J. et al. 2015. A runner’s high depends on cannabinoid receptors in mice. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26438875/