What is the Endocannabinoid System?

Endocannabinoid System

We've known about the endocannabinoid system (ECS) for approximately 25 years. Dr. L.A. Matsuda was the first to discover it in the 1990's, when he described the functional expression and structure of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor. Scientists were attempting to learn how THC, the main intoxicating cannabinoid in cannabis, affected the body. This led to them discovering an extraordinary complex network of cannabinoid receptors found in cells of both the peripheral and central nervous systems. Since then, they've identified other cannabinoid receptors.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

Your ECS is an intricate cell-signaling system, and is perhaps one of the most essential physiologic systems you have involved in establishing and sustaining human health. Throughout your body, you have endocannabinoids and their receptors. You have them in your:

  • Connective tissue
  • Brain
  • Glands
  • Organs
  • Immune cells

The endocannabinoids, with their complex actions in your nervous system, immune system and pretty much all of your organs, are literally a bridge between your mind and body. When you understand this system, you'll begin to see a component potentially connecting brain activity and states of disease and physical health.

Experts continue to try and completely understand the ECS. So far, they know it plays a role in regulating a wide range of processes and functions, including:

  • Mood
  • Sleep
  • Memory
  • Appetite
  • Fertility and reproduction

The ECS is present and active inside your body even if you don't use marijuana.

When you look at the term "endocannabinoid", you'll see "endo" which is short for endogenous (meaning it's produced in your body naturally) and "cannabinoid", which comes from cannabis. Therefore, "endocannabinoid" really means cannabis-like substances that occur inside you naturally.

The ECS itself consists of several parts:

  1. Endocannabinoids, which our bodies naturally synthesize.
  2. Enzymes that help break cannabinoids and endocannabinoids down.
  3. Receptors around your body and in your nervous system that cannabinoids and endocannabinoids bond with.

Not only is your ECS a natural part of your body, but it's also a critical one. You might have heard many reports on the medicinal properties of cannabis, or of its cannabinoids CBD and THC. Because it has a lot of seemingly unrelated effects, you may be wondering if what you're hearing is just a bunch of hype from individuals wanting the drug legalized. But, there is medical science backing up these reports, and the reason for the various unrelated effects have to do with the scope and size of your ECS itself.

It seems the primary function of your ECS is to maintain your body's homeostasis — biological harmony in response to environmental changes. Taxonomic study and investigation revealed the ECS is extremely old, and evolved more than 500 million years ago. Furthermore, it's in all vertebrates with birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, and reptiles producing endocannabinoids.

Initially, research suggested endocannabinoid receptors were present only in the nerves and brain; however, later on, scientists found the receptors were present throughout the entire body, including your:

  • Bones
  • Skin
  • Pancreas
  • Liver
  • Fat tissue
  • Blood vessels
  • Heart
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Kidneys

Arguably, endocannabinoids are one of the most versatile and widespread signaling molecules humans know.

How is the Endocannabinoid System and Sleep Related?

The ECS system has receptor sites known as cannabinoid receptors. These receptors, with CB1 and CB2 being the most well-known, are on your cells throughout your body. CBD and other cannabinoids interact with these receptors, which stimulate chemical responses, helping your system stay in balance.

Some researchers believe insomnia and other sleep disorders are related to ECS dysfunction. According to the CDC, around 50 to 70 million adults in the U.S. have wakefulness or sleep disorder. Not only is inadequate sleep uncomfortable, it can also affect your safety and health adversely. When you don't get enough sleep, it decreases your alertness and physical performance, and impairs cognitive abilities and memory.

Researchers also believe your CB1 receptors contribute to the regulation of sleep. Research shows an increase in endocannabinoid signaling and CB1 receptor activation within the central nervous system, promoting sleep-inducing effects. When the CB1 receptors are activated, it triggers the release of adenosine (this is a sleep-inducing molecule), a blockage of the CB1 receptors, and stimulates a chemical release that maintain wakefulness.

When your ECS is properly working, it decreases or increases CB1 receptor signaling to regulate your circadian rhythm, controlling your sleep-wake cycle. If your ECS is dysfunctional due to a lack of sufficient endocannabinoids, supplementing it with CBD could benefit you.

CBD for Sleep

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid that binds to your central nervous system's receptors, and is often used to treat various symptoms. Like sleeping aids such as melatonin, CBD might also treat insomnia and promote a more restful sleep.

How Does CBD Work?

Researchers don't understand everything completely regarding how CBD works. What they do know is that it interacts with cells and proteins in your brain. They also know that cannabinoids attach to the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBD might interact with certain receptors that potentially affect your sleep-wake cycle.

Also, CBD might decrease pain and anxiety, which both disrupt sleep. When CBD reduces certain symptoms like these, it helps improve sleep. Consumer Reports conducted a survey showing 10 percent of individuals in the U.S. who claimed they tried CBD to help them sleep said it worked.

How Does CBD Affect The Endocannabinoid System?

CBD interacts with your ECS differently than THC. It's non-psychoactive, and therefore doesn't get you high.

Your ECS doesn't just respond to your body's endocannabinoids. It also responds to external cannabinoids such as CBD. When you introduce CBD to your body, it helps decrease symptoms of a large range of conditions, including:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Depression
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Anxiety
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

CBD acts on your CB1 and CB2 receptors in your body, producing positive outcomes. It doesn't bind directly to these receptors, but rather affects them indirectly by activating TRPV1 receptors that control essential functions like body temperature, pain perception, and inflammation. CBD can also boost how much anandamide you have in your body. Anandamide (the bliss molecule) contributes to neural generation of motivation and pleasure.

While there still isn't a complete and full picture of what the ECS does, researchers do know it helps fine-tune most of your important physiological functions. Discovering the ECS showed a biological basis for plant cannabinoid's therapeutic effects, and has gained renewed interest in CBD and cannabis as medicine.

Eliminate Your Anxiety with CBD-Infused Pillows for Better Sleep

Anxiety is a distressing, disruptive, and common condition. It can lead to a night with no sleep. The risks of not sleeping well extend far beyond tiredness. Inadequate sleep can lead to:

  • Increased risk of injury
  • Poor work or school performance
  • Health problems

By helping to reduce anxiety, CBD might help your anxiety-induced sleep issues by helping you to fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly. Combine CBD with the comfort of soft pillows, and you have our CBD-infused pillows.

CBD pillows can help reduce your stress and anxiety, while lulling you into a deep, relaxing sleep, promoting better health and better work or school performance the next day. Try our free trial, and see for yourself how effective CBD-infused pillows are at providing you with high-quality sleep.