Why is full spectrum and broad spectrum cannabinoid oil so beneficial?
First, it is important to have an understanding of the human ECS system (endocannabinoid system). We all know that cannabis and its active compounds, called cannabinoids, have an effect on our bodies. But what allows them to have this effect, and how does it work? As it turns out, it all comes down to the ECS. First, though, it’s important to understand the concept of homeostasis.
What is homeostasis?
Homeostasis refers to the regulation of conditions in the body such as body temperature, blood sugar level, water content, and more. In order for the body to function properly, we need to remain within certain parameters that stop us getting sick and help us to be the amazing beings that we are. You can think of it like Goldilocks and the three bears: Everything in our body needs to be not too hot, not too cold, but just right. We maintain homeostasis by using negative feedback mechanisms. This means that everything in our bodies is monitored carefully so that, when something changes, we can correct it. This is where the ECS system comes in.
What is the ECS system?
The ECS system is a network of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors that exist throughout our bodies. It is thought to exist in pretty much all animals on earth, and it is absolutely crucial to our survival. The cannabinoid receptors exist on the surface of cells and “listen” to what's going on in the body. They communicate this information about our bodies’ status and changing circumstances to the inside of the cell, allowing for the appropriate measures to be taken. In other words, they allow for us to maintain homeostasis by monitoring what is going on in our bodies. Scientists have identified two primary cannabinoid receptors, called the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Although both types of receptors can be found all throughout the body, CB1 receptors are more highly concentrated in the brain and central nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors can be found more abundantly in the immune system, organs, and tissues. Most of us have by now heard of the cannabinoids found in plants, called phytocannabinoids, but the body also produces its own, which are referred to as endocannabinoids. These molecules are created whenever we need them, usually in response to some change in the body. They can bind directly with the cannabinoid receptors – you can think of them as slotting into one another like a jigsaw puzzle or a lock and key. To date, scientists have identified two major endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-AG. Endocannabinoids are made from fat-like molecules within cell membranes. Once the endocannabinoids have fulfilled their usage, metabolic enzymes are able to break them down again. FAAH breaks down anandamide, while MAGL breaks down 2-AG. This ensures that the endocannabinoids are not used for longer than necessary. This process is what separates endocannabinoids from other molecular signals like hormones or neurotransmitters, which can be stored in the body.
How was the ECS discovered?
The ECS is not often talked about in schools and even less heard of in wider circles. Everyone has heard of the respiratory system and the cardiovascular system, but the endocannabinoid system is not as famous. One of the reasons for this is that it was not discovered until fairly recently and it remains relatively understudied. In 1964, an Israeli scientist named Dr. Raphael Mechoulam was able to identify and isolate THC for the first time. Once cannabinoids could be isolated, it paved the way for research into why cannabis has the impact it does on the human body. In 1988, Allyn Howlett and William Devane discovered the first cannabinoid receptor in the brain of a rat. They began to map the CB receptors in the brain and found that there were more of these receptors than any other neurotransmitter receptor. The endocannabinoid system had been discovered. That is why it has this name – it was essentially named after the cannabis plant which helped to lead to its discovery.
What is the ECS’ role in the body?
As we have talked about, the ECS plays a vital role in maintaining homeostasis. But what exactly does this mean? Well, the ECS really does have a huge role in keeping us healthy, so much so that we wouldn’t be able to cover everything in just one article. It is thought that having a deficiency of endocannabinoids could cause a huge range of complications in the body. If we don’t have enough endocannabinoids, we can’t fix certain problems that arise. This relates to both mental and physical complications. Anything you can think of that homeostasis helps to regulate, the ECS will be involved in. As you can see, this makes it an incredibly crucial system.
How do cannabinoids interact with the ECS?
With all this information on the endocannabinoid system, it’s logical to jump straight to wondering how plant cannabinoids interact with our ECS. Of course, with over 100 cannabinoids naturally occurring in the cannabis plant, each one can interact with our ECS in different ways.
CBD (cannabidiol) is slightly different; instead of binding directly with our cannabinoid receptors, it has an indirect influence on the ECS. It can help us to produce more endocannabinoids naturally, which in turn leads to a better functioning of the ECS and a healthier body. If your endocannabinoid system is struggling to keep up with natural homeostasis, CBD can assist in restoring that natural balance by modifying the receptors' ability to bind to other cannabinoids. It enhances your natural levels of endocannabinoids by occupying certain enzymes. CBD has also been found to treat pain, inflammation, seizures, nervous system disorders, and certain cancers.
CBN (cannabinol) is found to primarily bind with CB2 receptors, but may also interact with CB1 receptors. CBN acts an agonist to the TRPV2 receptor, a naturally producing protein that regulates several biological systems in the human body. This makes CBN potentially effective for combatting pain and inflammation, bone health, controlling convulsant behavior, lowering blood pressure, and treating skin conditions. Higher levels of CBN in any cannabis product may provide a particularly effective option for battling insomnia and reducing anxiety. CBN may also be most effective for inducing sleep in combination with other cannabinoids such as CBD.
CBG (cannabigerol) reacts with the CB1 receptors in the brain, just like THC, however, it acts as a buffer to reduce the psychoactivity of THC. CBG is found fight inflammation, pain, nausea and works to slow the proliferation of cancer cells. Research has shown it also significantly reduces intraocular eye pressure caused by glaucoma. CBG is currently being studied to directly treat conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and certain cancers.