While hemp is getting increasingly more popular each day, not enough consumers fully understand how and why hemp works within the body the way that it does. But, knowing how hemp plant compounds function in your body can help you have a better relationship with the hemp you consume. That’s precisely why we’re talking about the endocannabinoid system.

If you haven’t heard of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) before, that’s okay! We’re here to let you know what it is, when it was discovered, and what we currently know about this complex system inside our bodies.

Understanding Hemp and the Body

Understanding Hemp and the BodyFor years, nobody was able to fully comprehend how the hemp plant worked within the human body. Even though ancient civilizations relied on the effects of hemp for various ceremonies, celebrations, and even food/drink, it wasn’t entirely understood why the plant did what it did.

Thankfully, we do have more knowledge on it now, but it’s essential to keep one thing in mind: hemp works differently for everyone. But, what exactly is hemp? In short, hemp is a species of the cannabis plant that contains high concentrations of cannabinoids such as cannabidiol also known as CBD. Unlike marijuana plants, hemp plants are mostly non-psychoactive and don’t provide a “high” feeling.  Here, we’re going to be talking about a system in the human body that everybody has. However, if you find that hemp does not work for you, this doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with you or your ECS. It just means that your body does not react to the plant’s cannabinoids — especially CBD — in ways that it might for others. That’s it!

Hemp and the human body is an incredibly complicated subject that we’re still learning more and more about every day. But, we do know that you and your body are unique, and the only way to see how hemp works for you is to try some for yourself. Now, let’s talk about some hemp science.

Discovering the Endocannabinoid System

Discovering the Endocannabinoid SystemThroughout the 1980 and 90s, researchers made considerable strides in understanding how hemp worked within the body. Back in the 60s, two Israeli scientists discovered that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical compound in hemp that produces psychoactive effects. Since that moment, the hemp plant piqued curiosities, and many scientists began their own journey towards understanding these cannabinoids.

In 1988, researchers discovered something huge: the CB1 receptor. At the time, they didn’t understand what this receptor did, what triggered it, and what kind of animals it was present in. Soon, they understood that these cannabinoid receptors exist within all animals with spinal cords and that this receptor is abundant throughout the entire body. Then, the next step was understanding why we had these receptors and what would set them off. Their answer came just a few years later, in 1992.

At the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a group of scientists discovered N-arachidonoylethanolamine, a neurotransmitter that acts almost identically to CB1 receptors as THC. With this, the researchers found the first endogenous cannabinoid in the human body. They shortened the endocannabinoid to anandamide and quickly dubbed it the “bliss” molecule, as it has a direct correlation to mood.

Once this first endogenous cannabinoid was found, the research started rolling. Soon, more scientists discovered the body’s other cannabinoid receptors, CB2 receptors, as well as other naturally occurring cannabinoids. Within just a few years, an entire biological system was unearthed: the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Cannabinoids, hemp, and the ECS

Cannabinoids, hemp, and the ECSSo, what exactly is this complex system, and how does it relate to hemp? Don’t worry: researchers had the same questions.

Essentially, the ECS is a system of cell signalers. As your body produces and absorbs certain enzymes, it lets the rest of the system know what it needs and what is lacking. If you’re struggling with headache pain, your body might send out a distress call, letting the endocannabinoids know to target the CB receptors found in that area. Then, these natural cannabinoids work their unique properties to help alleviate pain.

As scientists continued looking into the ECS, it became clear that our natural cannabinoids (or endocannabinoids) work almost identically to the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. When consumed, cannabinoids bind to the body’s CB1 or CB2 receptors, depending on their needs. Some of hemp’s cannabinoids bind to some receptors while others don’t, creating different effects. This is why, when we consume hemp, we often experience full-body effects that are so much more than just getting high. The results are deep-seated, therapeutic, and helpful. And, why is this? Because our bodies naturally produce cannabinoids, too!

From what we know now, the ECS helps to regulate myriad biological functions. From sleep to appetite to pain and mood and practically everything in between, this complex system seemingly does it all. That’s why when it gets thrown off, we can’t be too surprised. The ECS works tirelessly every day, and so do you! This exact reason is why so many choose to turn to cannabinoids like CBD in the first place: they can act as a bit of support.

When the ECS gets thrown off balance, having the support of cannabinoids can help. Simply put, your body sometimes can’t produce what it needs. So, hemp’s cannabinoids may act as a temporary stopgap for the aches, pains, or emotions you’re dealing with. Cannabinoids like CBD will assist the body in producing what it needs, acting as a helping hand to get you back to feeling like yourself.

The effects of cannabinoids like CBD are different for every person and every ailment, as it works to provide your body what it requires most. Because of this, you simply can’t base your experience on someone else’s.

We Still Have More to Learn

To this day, scientists are still looking into the full scope of the endocannabinoid system and all of its functions. In general, we still have so much to learn in terms of hemp science and research, and we’re just getting started!

Thankfully, as hemp acceptance continues to grow globally, access to bigger and better research and clinical trials may become more available. But, until then, we can simply continue seeing how cannabinoids work within our bodies.

As we mentioned at the start, every person will have a slightly different reaction to hemp and its constituents, so the only way to discover this relationship in the body is to see it for yourself.


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