Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychotropic derivative of the cannabis plant that boasts an array of therapeutic properties. Wholesale CBD products became legal in the United States in the early 2010s, and have taken the wellness industry by storm. The anti-epileptic benefits of CBD have also received huge attention, as they can be harnessed to treat children suffering from rare, life-threatening conditions.
However, not everybody is convinced by CBD, with some going so far as to call it ‘snake oil’. Their argument is that one substance cannot possibly have so many benefits, with so few side effects. But this completely dismisses new cannabinoid science, and the wide-ranging responsibilities of the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).
In this post, we will outline the role of the ECS, a system that first came to our attention in the 1990s, thanks to decades of diligent research by a team of Israeli researchers, headed by the so-called ‘godfather of cannabis’, Raphael Mechoulam.
Good immune system health is essential to prevent excessive inflammation, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. However, this system is also incredibly sensitive and is notorious for becoming hyperactive and responding too aggressively to perceived threats, damaging tissues and organs in the process. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are somewhat helpful, but the side effects of these can be risky, particularly for elderly patients.
However, cannabinoids are primed to become the leading class of anti-inflammatories in the future, thanks to the close connection between the immune system and the ECS. CB2 receptors are found all over the body, but mostly in the peripheral nervous system, and specifically on white blood cells and in immune tissues. CB2 receptor agonists trigger an immunomodulatory effect, which helps to suppress the proliferation of cytokines, a type of pro-inflammatory protein.
CBD produces anti-inflammatory effects by ensuring that the ECS functions as it should, and that the appropriate levels of endocannabinoids are present to bind with cannabinoid receptors. Another non-psychoactive cannabinoid called cannabichromene (CBC) is a CB2 receptor agonist, and produces its anti-inflammatory effects directly. Therefore, full-spectrum CBD products may be better for managing inflammation and autoimmune issues, as these contain CBC, as opposed to CBD-isolate products which don’t.
Unsurprisingly, mood is regulated by the central nervous system, and the ECS is one of the many smaller systems which has a role to play. Mood is regulated at the CB1 receptor, and primarily by the endocannabinoid anandamide, which is the body’s endogenous version of THC. CBD helps to improve mood by enhancing anandamide activity.
Initially, CBD was believed to be an anandamide reuptake inhibitor by deactivating the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). Follow-up studies, however, have suggested that CBD stops anandamide molecules from ever reaching FAAH enzymes, preventing degradation of the chemical that way.
CBD is being used as an alternative remedy for depression, and the mood-regulating effects may also be beneficial for people affected by bipolar disorder.
Our bones become more fragile with age, and this explains why senior citizens are prone to getting fractures from seemingly minor injuries. The ECS is implicated in bone health, with osteoblasts and osteoclasts able to create endocannabinoids and CB2 receptors.
CBD edibles wholesale products help to strengthen the bones, and they can also be used when recovering from injury.
Regulating the ECS is key to avoiding sudden mood changes and a weak immune system, but it’s also important for preventing illnesses which are linked to a dysregulated ECS, such as fibromyalgia and migraines. The research efforts of neurologist Dr Ethan Russo and others have shown us that people who are endocannabinoid deficient are more likely to suffer from these conditions. This is because endocannabinoids regulate the ECS by binding with CB2 receptors.
Since CBD helps to return the ECS to its ideal chemical state, products made with the compound are great for treating migraines and fibromyalgia, and they also promote homeostasis and good general health.
As of 2019, our current understanding of the endocannabinoid system and the effects of CBD is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Researchers have mooted that there may be an additional cannabinoid receptor functioning in the ECS, and a study has found that CBD is a strong antagonist of it. While the science is still playing catch up, there’s nothing stopping you from taking and benefiting from CBD already.