Almost everyone has heard of the cardiovascular and immune systems — but have you ever heard of the endocannabinoid system? If not, don’t worry; you’re not alone. However, this little-known critical system is actually the focus of many emerging research studies involving the effects of cannabis on the human body.
This system is responsible for regulating internal balance. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body in the brain, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. These cells perform different tasks depending on where they are found, but the goal of homeostasis, also known asbalance is always the same. This balance creates a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.
This system is important because it acts on our nervous system, immune system, and all of the body’s organs. It helps regulate mood, inflammation, pain reception, and cell health. Basically, maintaining a healthy endocannabinoid system is essential to creating a healthy, balanced physical body. So how is that accomplished?
What is CBD?
These receptors can be activated by small doses of cannabidiol or CBD to most people. CBD is one of the many compounds found in the cannabis plant. Most CBD comes from hemp, which is the least processed form of cannabis.
What’s the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?
Although hemp and marijuana come from the same plantthey are very different. Marijuana contains both CBD and THC compounds. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) creates the mind-altering “high” that many people associate with cannabis products. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. This means that CBD does not affect your state of mind in the same way. However, it does create significant changes in the body that provide medical benefits for multiple conditions and ailments.
What is CBD Used For?
CBD has been used to treat a wide range of ailments including epilepsy, depression, cancer, anxiety and neurological disorders, addiction, and Alzheimer’s. For our purposes, we are focusing on its effectiveness on pain and inflammation after a sports or exercise related injury. For example, at the site of an injury, cannabinoids can be found decreasing the release of activators and sensitizers from the injured tissue, stabilizing the nerve cell to prevent excessive firing, and calming nearby immune cells to prevent release of pro-inflammatory substances. This comes down to three different mechanisms of action on three different cell types for the single purpose of minimizing the pain and damage caused by the injury.
Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications are widely overused to treat chronic stiffness and pain. CBD offers a more natural alternative for those trying to avoid using opioids or other addictive medications.
Research is emerging to support the use of CBD oil to treat numerous conditions. This research looks at side effects, long-term effects, and overall safety. So far, no significant side effects have been discovered, and it also does not cause dependence like other pain medications. The most common side effect is tiredness. Even though the studies so far are positive, pregnant women, children and teens should consult a physician before trying CBD treatments.