There are many different health conditions that cannabis may be able to help with, but how does one plant have so many medical properties without serious side effects that other forms of medication might have? This was a question that led researchers to discover a system working within all of us that has been named the endogenous cannabinoid system or commonly known as the endocannabinoid system. It is one of the most important physiologic systems that establish and maintain human health. It’s worth knowing that cannabis isn’t the only way to stimulate your endocannabinoid system!
What is the Endocannabinoid system?
The ECS is defined as a biological system that was first discovered in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It’s made up of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. These are said to help regulate and maintain a variety of functions that include sleep, memory, appetite, and pain sensation. There are still many questions around the system, and there’s still a lot that remains unknown.
How does it work?
The system works by the three core components mentioned above, endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. These all contribute to homeostasis, which refers to the stability and maintenance of your internal body. For example, if you were to come down with a bug, such as a cold, your ECS kicks in to help your body get back to its original form and ideal state of operation. Maintaining homeostasis is the primary role of ECS, and that’s what many experts believe to be the case.
How cannabis stimulates the system
The two main cannabinoids found in cannabis, THC, and CBD, both interact with the system in different ways. THC is the compound that gets you high, and when it interacts with the ECS, it binds to the receptors, which can have a range of effects on your body and mind. It’s also one that can reduce pain and perhaps stimulate your appetite, which is what’s commonly referred to as the ‘munchies’ when taking cannabis with high levels of THC. However, it can also cause paranoia and anxiety in some individuals, so it can be a different experience for everyone.
CBD doesn’t make you high and it typically doesn’t have any negative effects. It’s one that’s also become more mainstream popular as it’s finding its way into the health and beauty industries with major success. Again, CBD binds to receptors, but has more of an effect on your body than THC does in that it helps aid the maintenance that ECS provides.
What other options are out there to stimulate it?
Rather than just using cannabis to stimulate the system, what other options can be used? Let’s start off with the things you can consume that will help react with your ECS.
Essential fatty acids
A healthy balance of fatty acids can help with the essential production of endocannabinoids. However, it’s also important to note that you can have too much of a good thing, and it can end up doing the opposite of what you want by hindering the system. Try getting more hemp, flax, and chia seeds into your diet if possible. Certain fish like sardines, anchovies, as well as eggs are great options.
We don’t need much excuse to eat our body weight in chocolate, but it’s one food source that can help stimulate the ECS. The cacao powder that turns into the chocolate we all know and love has similar compounds to ECS and so when you eat it, it’s breaking down into your own endocannabinoids and increasing the levels you have as a result. That’s why many choose to eat darker chocolate because of the higher percentage of cacao powder that’s used.
There are also plenty of stress-reducing activities that you can do in order to help stimulate the ECS. This can include simple things such as social interaction and unstructured time. Certain forms of meditation or yoga can be helpful as well as booking yourself into the local spa for a massage. Exercise can be good too, but it’s better if it’s something that you do voluntarily and it’s actually something you enjoy, rather than loathe.
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