Balancing (and Imbalancing) Your Endocannabinoid System

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The body’s endocannabinoid system is comprised of 2 main components: endocannabinoids and receptors.

Endocannabinoids
Endocannabinoids are lipid-based neurotransmitters produced by the body to help keep internal functions running smoothly. Researchers have so far discovered at least 5 main types of endocannabinoids; anandamide, 2-arachidonoylglycerol, 2-Arachidonyl glyceryl ether, N-Arachidonoyl dopamine, Virodhamine.

  • The endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonoylglycerol, binds to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors with similar affinity, acting as a full agonist at both
  • Anandamide binds to the central (CB1) and, to a lesser extent, peripheral (CB2) endocannabinoid receptors, where it acts as a partial agonist.
  • An ether-type endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonyl glyceryl ether binds primarily to the CB1 receptor, and only weakly to the CB2 receptor.
  • Discovered in 2000, NADA preferentially binds to the CB1 receptor.
  • Virodhamine, or O-arachidonoyl-ethanolamine (OAE), was discovered in 2002. Although it is a full agonist at CB2 and a partial agonist at CB1, it behaves as a CB1 antagonist in vivo.
  • Lysophosphatidylinositol is the endogenous ligand to novel endocannabinoid receptor GPR55, making it a strong contender as the sixth endocannabinoid.

Cannabinoid Receptors
Endocannabinoids bind to these receptors, with the two primary types being CB1 and CB2.

CB1 receptors are generally found in the brain stem and to a lesser extent the central nervous system. CB1 receptors, within the endocannabinoid system, are responsible for coordination, movement, pain, appetite, memory, and mood, to name just a few functions.

CB2 receptors, also within the endocannabinoid system, are found in the body’s immune cells, with the peripheral nervous system directly influencing pain and inflammation.

Enzymes
Enzymes break down the endocannabinoids once they have done their job, with the 2 main ones being fatty acid amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol acid lipase.

How Could CBD Possibly Help the Endocannabinoid System?

CBD, a phytocannabinoid, binds to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system, supplementing the endocannabinoids produced within you. In addition, medical experts believe that CBD inhibits the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase, the primarily responsible for breaking down and recycling endocannabinoids.

If your body is imbalanced and not producing sufficient endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids may be able to step in and help restore balance.

In Conclusion

While science is continuously developing, more and more research indicates the importance of a balanced endocannabinoid system.

A healthy lifestyle, excellent foods, exercise, vitamins and laughter, are great ways to help balance your system, and CBD use may contribute to restore and preventing an imbalance.