Restoring Balance: CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

Angela Glaz

Ayurvedic Specialist & 500 Hour E-RYT


While more and more of the world is learning of the medicinal benefits of CBD - its ability to stop and prevent seizures, reduce inflammation and pain, increase mood and immunity, and much more - it’s not always clear on why and how. 

In this article, I’m going to keep it simple as we discuss how CBD and our body and mind (the Endocannabinoid System) work together to restore balance, beginning with the basics.

What is CBD?

 CBD or Cannabidiol is a naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis and is the second active ingredient of cannabis (marijuana). CBD does not induce psychoactive effects. 

Both CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects)  are present in marijuana. However, when a person takes a CBD dominant version of medical marijuana, they are using CBD from hemp, a “cousin” of the marijuna plant.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The Endocannabinoid system, which was recently discovered in 1992,  is ultimately responsible for keeping us in a state of homeostasis and plays a huge part in restoring balance when we are ill or injured. 

In 2013, an article published by Dr.Pal Pacher and Dr. George Kunos stated, “Modulating Endocannabinoid System activity may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans including obesity/metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and diabeteic complications, neurodegenerative, inflammatory, cardiovascular, liver gastrointestinal, skin disease, pain, psychiatric disorders , cachexia, cancer, chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, among others.”

This system is beyond important for our well being, as it appears to interact with a number of other systems in the body, including the immune system (regulates our general health) and endorphin system (responsible for the relief of stress and pain).

How CBD and the Endocannabinoid System Work Together?

When in the body, CBD and THC interact with cannabinoid receptors to help treat or limit the effects of various conditions and diseases manifesting in the body.

There are hundreds of cannabinoid receptors throughout the human body that cause these conditions and diseases, the most popular being CB1 and CB2

CB1 - Primarily influences our memory, motor skills, pain perception, appetite, and immune cells.

CB2 - Primarily influences our eyes, liver, kidneys, skeletal system, muscular system, respiratory system, immune system, reproductive system, skin, and tissues.

When CBD binds with a receptor, it will travel through these systems and allow the Endocannabinoid System to maintain homeostasis or balance.  These compounds can then stimulate the body to naturally make more endocannabinoids and more receptors, which essentially allows the body to work more efficiently.

One of the endocannabinoids that the body naturally makes is  Anandamide. Anandamide interacts with the body’s CB receptors and is best known for reducing pain and producing a state of heightened happiness. Anandamide is synthesized in areas of the brain that are important in memory, motivation, higher thought processes, and movement control. It is also said to contribute to our appetite, and the rate in which cancer cells increase. 

Fun fact: Anandamide got its name by combining the Sanskrit word ananda, which means bliss, and the chemical name for a key part of its molecular structure.

Because CBD inhibits the enzyme FAAH, which is known for breaking down Anandamide, Anadaminde can stay active in the ECS longer. This means the body can stay in a state of homeostasis, which then allows the rest of our body’s systems to do their job, keeping us happy and healthy! 

Research Information Gathered from:

CBD: A Patients Guide to Medical Cannabis By Leonard Leinow and Juliana Birnbaum

CBD and Ayurveda

By understanding the chemical/metabolic properties of both humans and the plants they consume, Ayurveda can predict how a person of a given body type will likely react to a given plant medicine.

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