The Science Behind the Health Benefits of CBD – The Endocannabinoid System

In the 1990s, researchers studying cannabis for its health effects began to unravel a mystery that culminated in the discovery of a whole new system in the body. Called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), this vast network of transmitters, receptors and enzymes can be thought of as a sort of “housekeeper” that keeps many of the other systems in your body in a healthy state of balance.[1]

What is unique about your ECS is that it contains chemical agents called cannabinoids. These are special compounds that work to transmit information along nerve pathways and interact with key receptors in your brain and body so that processes such as metabolism, digestion, memory, cognition and immunity can function optimally. This helps ensure that your body stays healthy and strong.

However, as with vitamins and minerals, cannabinoids can be depleted or damaged. When this happens, a condition known as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CED) can occur.[2]

How CBD Helps Your Endocannabinoid System

Just like your body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids (often called endocannabinoids), CBD, which is found in cannabis, is also a cannabinoid. It is considered one of the most powerful in terms of its health balancing benefits.[3] That’s why:

  • CBD works to help limit the breakdown, deactivation, and absorption of your body’s natural endocannabinoids.
  • CBD has also been shown to help increase endocannabinoid levels in your brain.

Because of CBD’s protective properties, it can help reduce the risk of CED and all the harmful health conditions that can come with it. For example, CBD works to positively regulate a key endocannabinoid called anandamide,[4] better known as the “bliss molecule”. The many health benefits of anandamide include:[5]

  • Reducing inflammation that is associated with many chronic diseases[6]
  • Pain relief
  • Improving memory
  • Protects against stress, anxiety, addiction and[{” attribute=””>PTSD
  • Helping inhibit the production of certain cancer cells
  • Balancing mood and bridging in feelings of happiness

So rather than healing a specific disease, CBD’s job as a cannabinoid is to help balance your internal endocannabinoids and system responses so that your risk for diseases may be reduced and the symptoms of health conditions can be better managed.[7]

What to look for when shopping for CBD

Hemp oil vs hemp extract

CBD and other healthy cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are extracted from the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant and form an oil known as hemp extract. This product contains the healthy ingredients needed to regulate your ECS and balance the release and absorption of hormones, signaling agents and other key chemicals. Therefore, when shopping for CBD products, it is best to choose those that contain hemp extract.

Hemp oil, on the other hand, comes from hemp seeds and contains only trace amounts of CBD. It provides a health boost through its dietary omega-3 and omega-6 essential fats in the same way that seeds do.[8]

Testing of third-party hemp extract products

To make sure you find high-quality CBD free of pesticides, heavy metals, and contaminants, look for a company that has “third-party testing” on all of its products. An independent lab analysis will analyze the contents of the product to confirm that it contains the amount of CBD and other healthful ingredients it claims to contain.

Companies that perform third-party testing on their hemp products will often list a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from their testing lab on the website so you can compare it to the product description.

The importance of organic hemp growing practices

Hemp is what is known as a “bioaccumulator,” which is a plant that can naturally remove pesticides and other harmful toxins from the soil.[9] That’s why you’ll want to buy CBD that’s sourced from growers who use organic farming methods, so you can be sure that the soil and cultivation methods are clean.

References:

  1. healthline.com/health/endocannabinoid-system
  2. youtube.com/watch?v=IffacdsVsG4
  3. projectcbd.org/science/how-cbd-works
  4. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6460372/
  5. bebrainfit.com/anandamide/
  6. health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-acute-and-chronic-inflammation
  7. cbdcentral.com/cbd-ultimate-benefits-guide/
  8. webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-hemp-seed-oil
  9. medium.com/@ministryofhemp/hemp-bioremediation-the-miracle-crop-that-actually-cleans-soil-97a7a654991f

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