The subject of CBD is one of the “hottest” topics right now and with good reason. Believe it or not, every human body, including yours, contains an Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This means you. The ECS regulates your intestinal function, directs eating behavior, glucose metabolism, and energy balance. When the ECS is dysregulated, we can experience metabolic and bowel conditions, anxiety, and many of the chronic health conditions that are prevalent today.  Basically the ECS is a communication system throughout the body that helps maintain balance between body systems. Receptors throughout the body interact with CBD to create a sense of balance and well-being. In other words, CBD is good for your ECS.

Historically, the ECS co-evolved with diet and is implicated and linked to motivation and reward. Changes in dietary habits have had a major impact on our ECS. For instance, the metabolic disorders we experience today indicate a mismatch between ancient genetics and current high calorie diets. Some researchers say that the interplay between diet and the ECS is the key to understanding obesity and diabetes and that our genes were disturbed by grain (carbohydrate) farming, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, and lack of physical activity.

Enter CBD (cannabidiol) from hemp.  Hemp has been a friend to humans for years. Hemp provided fiber for cords and cloth, seeds for nutrition, and the roots, flowers, and leaves were used for healing. Hemp is a cannabis plant that is harvested commercially for its seeds and stalks. Seeds and stalks are used to produce a number of products including food, nutritional supplements, medicine, body care products, paper, textiles, building materials, plastic composites, and even biofuels. Depending on which parts of the plant hemp oil is made from, the amount of CBD will vary, producing everything from nutritious hemp foods to hemp seed oil to rich CBD oil. Hemp oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant. Unlike marijuana, hemp is naturally higher in CBD, one of over 85 cannabinoids that have so far been identified in the cannabis plant. CBD is non-psychoactive and therefore won’t cause a high, making it safe for use by anyone, regardless of age. CBD hemp oil products are legal in all 50 states; they fill an important role for those who can’t access medical marijuana in their state. CBD hemp oil is also an alternative to medical marijuana for those who are interested in using CBD but are looking to avoid the negative effects of psychoactive THC. The defining characteristic between hemp and marijuana is the amount of THC in the plant. THC is the component that produces the “high”. Hemp has less than 0.3% THC.

Why does CBD work? Our cells have cannabinoid (CB) receptors that perform many functions. CBD interacts with our cannabinoid receptors and thus has therapeutic properties. Simply put, cannabinoids are a class of chemical compound that bind to and interact with the cannabinoid receptors found in our bodies. One example is CB receptors in the brain. These CB receptors affect the way neurotransmitters are released in the brain. Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced within our own bodies by the endocannabinoid system. Acting as neurotransmitters, their main function is to control and regulate activity in the central nervous system as well as in other biological systems within the body. Due to the factors previously mentioned, our ECS is out of whack. That is why CBD has become important as is further explained below.

There are two types of CB receptors. The CB1 receptors take part in a newborn’s ability to suckle; our sense of smell; boost our appetite, and improve our ability to recover from stress. The CB1 receptors are concentrated in the brain and central nervous system.  Obesity has been linked to increased ECS tone, which is driven by over-activation of CB1 receptors.

The CB2 receptors are found primarily on our immune cells, fatty tissue, and the peripheral nervous system. The CB2 receptors have broad anti-inflammatory effects and temper our appetite. The CB2 receptors have the opposite effects of the CB1 receptors.

Dietary cannabinoids can activate CB2 receptors. Some of these are herbs, dark leafy greens, spices, vegetables, and healthy fats such as oily fish, and nuts & seeds.

Poor diet choices leads to nutrient deficiencies. The body is unable to produce the cannabinoids needed to regulate function of the ECS. For instance, a well-nourished ECS relies on healthy fats, which then help produce certain neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is involved in emotional state, motivation, and many other feelings. Serotonin is our “happy” neurotransmitter.

Balance is the key: CB1 receptors can exert a paradoxical effect. They can facilitate essential nourishment but can cause metabolic imbalances. CB2 receptors can provide metabolic advantages and counteract inflammation.

One of the primary physiological functions of the ECS is to shift food intake towards storage for future use. This worked well when food was scarce and physical activity was high. Today we are at a disadvantage. We have an overabundance of food that is lacking in nutrients and we are physically inactive.

You do have the ability to alter and improve the ECS through diet, physical activity, and supplementation with CBD. The role of the ECS is balance: relax, eat, sleep, forget and protect. Mind-Body medicine at its finest.

For more information on the ECS, supportive nutrition, and CBD oil, please contact us at Integrative Acupuncture.

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