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  • Writer's pictureKrystal Harrell

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

Updated: Jul 30, 2022

The ECS is a signaling system that operates naturally within every organ and tissue in our body. Even in people who have NEVER consumed cannabis, the ECS plays a critical role in homeostasis. HOW IS THAT?? Because each of us produces our own endocannabinoids, the prefix endo- means “from within”. The ECS is a source of balance that helps to stabilize various processes that keep us alive. For example, inflammation is a completely normal response to tissue that is damaged, infected or irritated. It’s a mechanism of the body that must be regulated closely to be sure that it is not too high and not too low. Engaging the Endocannabinoid System can help to bring inflammation down to a more homeostatic level, which helps our body thrive. The ECS works in virtually every organ in the body. It acts as neuroprotection, cytoprotection, helps modulate our immune system and helps block certain types of bad cells. It provides essential support to memory and motor function, regulates pain, maintains proper BP, supports bone growth and aids the digestive system. In addition, the ECS helps regulate the processes that make up human metabolism, including energy intake, nutrient transport, lipid breakdown and energy storage. Interestingly enough, the one place where cannabinoid receptors are not found is the brain stem, which is responsible for breathing and respiration, and where opioid receptors are abundant. This is one way of explaining why cannabinoid overdose is virtually impossible. It is always an explanation as to why cannabis might be included in opioid withdrawal or replacement therapies.

There are three main components to the ECS. 1. Neuromodulators – These are signaling molecules that your body naturally makes. Endocannabinoids act as Neuromodulators. AEA (Anandamide) and 2-AG are both synthesized on demand during times of stress. They travel across synapse in retrograde fashion.

2. Receptors - I. Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) – Highly expressed in the brain, 10x more prevalent in the CNS as compared to opioid receptors, found in adipose, liver, pancreas, skeletal, muscle and immune cells, modulate neurotransmitter release, primary psychoactive receptor, none found in the brainstem. THC has a high affinity for the CB1 receptor which can cause euphoric feelings. II. Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2) – Immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory, expressed on membranes of B cells, T cells and macrophages, when signaled are inhibitory to the immune system, increased CB2 receptor signaling results in decreased inflammation.

3. Regulatory Enzymes – These are enzymes that degrade our natural endocannabinoids (AEA & 2-AG).

So now the question becomes….How do the plant based cannabinoids (phytocannibinoids) interact with our ECS?

You need to know that there are more than 100 different cannabinoids, with CBD and THC being the most known. These compounds of cannabinoids can bind directly to our ECS receptors. They can alter the structure and function of the cannabinoid receptors. They can bind to other receptors including serotonin receptors. They block the enzymes that break down our natural endocannabinoids. Research continues to discover how cannabis interacts with an individual’s own natural ECS. At this time, we know that CBD is relatively safe for most people. There are some conditions and medications that are contraindicative, and this is why you should always seek the advice of a medical professional or certified CBD coach. Here at The Herbal Alternative, we have two certified CBD coaches on staff and everyone has been taught and trained to appropriately answer questions. We will do our very best to offer you the most recent information with transparency and honesty. Trust that we are here to help you better your health and know that we truly appreciate the opportunity to provide excellent service to all our customers.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our wonderful customers for supporting our mission to bring alternatives to the community for the past three years. This week we will be celebrating our 3rd birthday with a big sale. Please, please, please stop in during our celebration and let us know what you like and what you would like to see from us going forward. Again, our most sincere appreciation to you all! WE LOVE OUR CUSTOMERS…..they’ve become family and family takes care of family!

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