Wouldn’t it be great if you enjoy the therapeutic relief cannabis has to offer, with none of the mind-altering psychoactive effects? That’s exactly what you can do with CBD products, which are made without (or with mere traces) of THC, the psychoactive part of the plant.
CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are both cannabinoids, and exceedingly rare compounds in the plant world. However, their interactions with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) are contrasting. THC is essentially the plant-derived version of anandamide, while CBD fulfils a more versatile role in the ECS, working with endocannabinoids, enzymes and cannabinoid receptors. Cutting-edge research indicates CBD also influences serotonin and opioid receptors.
In this article, we will focus in on the functions of the ECS and how CBD can be of assistance in this system to promote good health. We’ll also explore conditions that have been found to be manageable with cannabinoid-based solutions, such as CBD vape oil and e-liquid.
Managing the endocannabinoid system
Given the extraordinary effects that THC can have on the mind and body, it was always likely that the cannabinoid was binding to a receptor of some kind, and that the body produced an endogenous analogue to the compound (anandamide).
But this was not confirmed until 1992 when research from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem offered the first in-depth look at the endocannabinoid anandamide, and the endocannabinoid system in which it has influence.
Over the years, experts have proven that the ECS is greatly important to our health and wellbeing, and that imbalance or dysfunction can cause illness. The CB1 receptor helps to modulate emotions such as mood and appetite. The CB2 receptor – which is found in abundance in the skin and peripheral nervous system – is an effective target area for treating internal and external inflammation. Endocannabinoids have been found to control immune system response, preventing hyperactivity which in turn helps regulate inflammation.
Treating autoimmune disorder psoriasis with CBD
Psoriasis is a bizarre skin condition, that had no confirmed cause for many years, never mind a cure. While we still don’t have a cure, experts are now confident that psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder. Interestingly, anecdotes of patients finding a reduction in symptoms thanks to CBD topical treatments are on the rise.
Psoriasis symptoms emerge when the process that creates new skin cells and removes dead skin cells becomes disrupted and sent into overdrive. This causes rapid skin cell production, the effects of which are seen on the epidermis, the skin’s top layer – the result is patchy, lumpy, red and irritable skin.
However, by regulating the mechanism that creates skin cells too quickly, the symptoms of psoriasis can be effectively mitigated. At its worst, new skin cells are forced to the epidermis in three days, instead of the typical 30. CBD nurtures the immune system to bring that – as closely as possible – back to normal.
CBD creams and other infused topical products are more successful in treating psoriasis than other CBD options, as the cannabinoids are able to soothe the skin directly. These also exert antioxidant and antibacterial properties that help restore the overall quality of the skin.
Benefits of boosting anandamide
The word ‘anandamide’ is derived from the Sanskrit for bliss (ananda), and this endocannabinoid sometimes known as the ‘human THC’ or, more simply, the ‘bliss molecule’.
Anandamide is an essential, and modern research is crediting the neurotransmitter for producing benefits that were initially thought to have come from other compounds.
For instance, it was accepted that endorphins were responsible for the mood enhancement or “runner’s high” which comes from exercise. Yet this argument has fallen flat since endorphins, which are endogenous opioids, cannot penetrate the blood-brain barrier, and therefore cannot make the necessary connections for this mood boost. However, anandamide can – and does!
But anandamide is not that potent, and therefore we don’t feel the euphoric rush we do when running in normal circumstances, as the FAAH enzyme breaks down the compounds very quickly. When exercising, the flow of extra anandamide cannot be degraded so fast, hence the sudden spike in mood.
Yet there is another way to boost anandamide and enjoy a better overall mood – by taking CBD and stopping the FAAH enzyme from functioning for a short while. The indirect impact CBD has on anandamide not just enhances mood; but does so without artificially changing the ECS like THC. Perhaps these natural reactions are why there’s such an incredible absence of concerning side effects with CBD. And in addition to this, there’s no threat of mental or physical dependence with CBD, even with daily consumption.
ECS and cannabinoid science remains incomplete, although there are indications that both CBD and anandamide is compatible with mechanisms beyond the ECS. Cannabinoids have been touted as useful painkillers, and while the ECS may have a role to play here, the interaction of anandamide with the vanilloid receptor is very intriguing, due to its known influence over pain sensitivity, particularly to heat. This receptor also regulates body temperature, which is imperative for homeostasis.
Neuroprotective benefits of ECS regulation
Stunning advancements have been made in several areas of medicine, but unfortunately research on the brain has lagged behind – somewhat due to the complex nature of the organ, and maybe because of the prohibition of relevant compounds, including cannabinoids.
Neurodegenerative diseases are so problematic because of the debilitating impacts of the symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease causes a loss of memory, while Parkinson’s leads to a decline in motor control function.
As neurotoxins accumulate in the brain, the organ become more vulnerable to nerve damage and serious illness. One way to treat this is to get more sleep, and crucially deep sleep, which allows these neurotoxins to be flushed out. CBD’s regulation of the sleep-wake cycle minimizes REM sleep and mazimizes deep sleep.
Furthermore, the reduced oxidative stress on the brain from the antioxidant properties of CBD and other cannabinoids serves to halt or slow neurodegeneration.
Patients with depression tend to experience hippocampus shrinkage over time. Studies on rats have found that this deterioration may be reversed with CBD and cannabichromene (CBC) treatment.