What We Know So Far
Table of Contents
- Odd Interactions with the ECS
- Endocannabinoids vs Phytocannabinoids
- TRPV1 Receptors
- CB1 Receptors in the Brain
- Organ Systems
How CBD interacts with the human body is complex and difficult to understand even for scientists. I’ve continuously reminded readers that more research is needed in order for everyone to entirely understand all of its benefits. There is a recurring theme though that I keep hearing from others and which pops into my own head frequently. It’s the idea that CBD helps us feel balanced. How to clearly define what that means, well I am just not that sure. I suppose it means that we just feel the way we think we should.
While visiting my in-laws during the Holidays, my brother-in-law came home late one night from a double shift managing a restaurant. He told me that he took some CBD and was just beginning to feel balanced after his long day. It caught my attention while he told me about how he uses CBD that he held out his hand horizontally and teetered it, sort of like he was saying he felt so-so, and then settled his hand down until it stilled. I still did not understand the benefit though.
I remember intently listening to his comment and found his hand gesture puzzling. I asked if he meant that he felt better, he hesitated before shrugging and saying, “Yeah, I guess. I just feel like I leveled out.” Leveled out? It sounded good, just really hard to pinpoint what exactly he meant. Feeling better didn’t quite seem the answer he was looking for. Instead, it seemed like he was saying he just felt the way he thought he should be feeling.
Balance may mean that you don’t have any really nagging pain or anxiety, but not necessarily that you have no pain or anxiousness. It may mean that you don’t feel exhausted or like you have to run to the bathroom all of the time, but not necessarily that you never get sleepy during the day or never have stomach issues. Balance also means that you do not feel exceptionally good or euphoric either.
In order to understand how CBD can help us manage all of these nagging issues consistently, we need to delve a little into human physiology.
Its odd interaction with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
We regularly hear people talk about the endocannabinoid system when the topic of CBD comes up. Cannabinoids bind with receptors in our ECS and cannabidiol, or CBD, is certainly a cannabinoid. It just doesn’t fit into ECS receptors. Like all things when trying to understand animal physiology, understanding how exactly it helps us regulate our body is complicated.
Researchers discovered the endocannabinoid system in 1992 when they found one of the body’s naturally produced cannabinoids, anandamide. The ECS is found throughout the body and It is made up of what are called CB receptors. While researchers believe there may be a third receptor, they have isolated CB1 and CB2 receptors so far.
CB1 receptors are found in our nervous system, organs, many of our glands and in connective tissue. CB2 receptors are mostly found in our immune system. There are more CB receptors in our body than any other receptor system. These receptors are found in the membranes of our cells and work on an on-demand basis. Researchers believe endocannabinoid systems began developing over 600 million years ago as a way to regulate a body to a point of bringing it to homeostasis with the world around it. Again though, CBD does not interact directly with CB receptors. In order to understand how this molecule can help we need to understand the two types of cannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids vs Phytocannabinoids
Phytocannabinoids are the cannabinoids found in plants like hemp and echinacea. Endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are produced by our bodies. Many phytocannabinoids can fit into our CB receptors, but not all of them. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the phytocannabinoids that doesn’t quite fit. Interestingly, ingesting this phytocannabinoid promotes the production of 2-AG which is the endocannabinoid that connects with and tells CB receptors to reduce inflammation in joints. A lack of 2-AG may result in unnecessary inflammation. It seems as though many people just do not produce enough 2-AG and CBD helps to tell the body to make more.
CBD does bind with TRPV1 receptors though. These receptors are super serious. They are part of our peripheral and central nervous system and send messages to the brain of intense pain such as burning. TRPV1 receptors also regulate body temperature and inflammation. In the end, the way CBD interacts with our bodies is multifaceted. One way or another, it may be a key to all of us working more in harmony with the world around us and finding that balance.
CB1 Receptors in the Brain
According to NCBI research papers, CBD affects CB1 receptors in the brain indirectly. It seems to impact the transmission of hyperactive signals between neurons by slowing them down. In epileptic patients, over excited synaptic transmission are what can induce seizures. While scientists do not yet understand how exactly CBD helps to fine tune these transmissions to reduce seizure activity, cannabidiol being used as an anticonvulsant is one of the most commonly accepted benefits of CBD oil.
Our bodies have a total of 12 different organ systems. Researchers believe they are all intended to work together to help our bodies reach homeostasis with the world around us. Unfortunately, prohibition slowed in-depth research into the ECS possibly depriving us of the many benefits it can bring. So far research suggests that CBD either directly or indirectly affects the endocrine system, nervous system, opioid system and of course the ECS.
Research is on going to see if CBD can help. For those of us not producing enough endocannabinoids, we can stimulate the production of these molecules by ingesting phytocannabinoids from plants like hemp. If our bodies are not producing enough endocannabinoids, the ECS is not able to regulate the way it is supposed to. CBD directly binds with the TRPV1 receptors in our nervous system.
CBD does not seem to make people drowsy or really induce sleep. Instead, incomplete research leans more towards it possibly helping with the conditions that can wake us up in the middle of the night. A full night’s sleep with hours in full REM can allow you to have very productive wakeful days.
Again, this is not very well understood yet by the scientific community. CBD seems to have a dampening effect on synaptic transmission in the brain. Worries can be a major roadblock in our lives preventing us from the life we all strive for.
Alexis Bortell, a young girl suffering from chronic seizures moved to Colorado to access her treatment way before hemp oil became legal nationally. Her story is one of the best known testimonials. In Illinois, a young girl named Ashley Surin made Illinois lawmakers changed the law so that students on public school property could have CBD administered to them. They even named the new law Ashley’s Law.
Many people associate post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with military veterans that have seen and experienced repeated traumatic events while in service. Anyone that has experienced traumatic events can struggle with PTSD including first responders and others that simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time. PTSD patients struggle with a hyper-active brain.
Military veterans struggling with PTSD have commented on a number of occasions that the opioid based prescription drugs given to them by the VA numbs them mentally to the point where they do not feel like they are driving their own body.
Dr. Yasmin Hurd is a top mind on addiction in the world is studying CBD. Addiction relapses are one of the symptoms of addiction and if we can figure out how to stop them, then we are potentially finding a cure to addiction. Her research is still ongoing.
Our endocrine system is what regulates hormone levels and like any other system it can get out of whack. Cortisol is often referred to as our natural alarm system and too much of it can cause all sorts of symptoms including mood swings. Again, we need more research to clearly know how exactly it can best be used to regulate our endocrine system.
Reducing Bloating for PMS
CB2 receptors are plentiful in our stomachs and intestines. Some discomforts are unique to women like the symptoms that come from PMS. Women can experience terrible cramping and bloating in their intestinal regions.
Aches and pains can begin to plague those of us focused on our physical fitness. After all, we are putting additional stress on our joints and muscles when we lift weights or endure hard cardiovascular workouts. The ECS can help regulate our aches and pains from our workouts just like it does for other conditions we have no control over.
This is as far as science has really gotten up until this point. One way or another, the potential benefits of CBD seem promising. If you add in the additional benefits of using a low-calorie, low-sugar MCT coconut derived oil, Sugar and Kush CBD is an all around healthy alternative.
People are uncomfortable with vague answers. A vague answer makes people feel like they are being tricked or that the person or company they are looking into do not really know what they are talking about. Since this biological compound is still being researched by scientists and we are looking for more verified findings, it is hard to definitively explain the advantages of using CBD. Unfortunately, vagueness comes with the territory at this time.
It seems as though the revitalization of the hemp plant has triggered more research on the ECS and how cannabinoids interact with our organ systems rather than on just cannabidiol by itself. If CBD is a key, then we need to understand the locks that it fits into. If our ECS is the system that helps bring us in line with our external environment, then it only makes sense for us to focus research on the ECS and as a consequence learn more about CBD. While we wait on more hard medically derived CBD facts, we must postulate from the research we do have access to and combine that with testimonials.
With the euphoria that often comes with the THC found in marijuana, other harder drugs and alcohol use, it could be that many people associate feeling good with euphoria now. We have to acknowledge that it is not just imbibing drugs and alcohol though that trigger euphoria. If packing for a Caribbean vacation triggers some adrenaline that fills you with excited anticipation, or laughter increases your serotonin levels, both of those events produce euphoric feelings. But euphoria is not CBD’s thing. Conversely, many prescription drugs may numb you mentally, but not CBD. While it is far from a cure-all, working in conjunction with other medicines may help reduce side-effects of the drugs that have been over-saturating our opioid system.
We are all interested in living the life we want and if this tiny molecule can help people, then we should be researching it more. To understand all of the CBD benefits, it may take looking at it from a bit of a different perspective. It is not about euphoria, it is about the seamless transition into balance with the world around us. People need to learn how to take full advantage of it through diligent research and published studies.
So, I’ve said this before, CBD is about wellness. It’s not about getting high because a pure CBD does not get you high. It's not about immediate relief from severe chronic pain. It’s not about making you sleepy so you pass out for the entire night. By itself, it is insufficient at managing severe anxiety disorders either. CBD is more like something you add to your daily routine as part of your daily regimen of vitamins. The idea is that your endocannabinoid system activates in your body after repeated exposure to CBD.
The story about my brother-in-law is just one example of how people that use CBD are coming to the same conclusion as scientists. Everyday consumers of CBD may be telling people that it is helping to level or balance themselves out. Either way, it seems to me that consumers and scientists have met in the middle. I am still picturing my brother-in-law’s hand settling down after teetering back and forth when I look at the science and testimonials together. It’s all just adding up to balance.
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