Is Your Endocannabinoid System in Balance?

You balance your work with your family life, fatty foods with healthy ones, stress with
happiness. But what about your endocannabinoid system? The
endocannabinoid system is a pivotal body system that impacts a multitude
of other health factors and, when it’s improperly balanced, it can have
a negative impact on your overall health. Here’s what you need to know:

What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) consists of a selection of highly
specialized lipids and receptors within the brain. The system acts on
the nervous system to produce things like hunger, pain, responses to
stress, memory building, inflammation and muscle control. The ECS also
has a direct impact on things like sleep, muscle control, energy and
mood.

Cannabinoid Receptors 101

The ECS relies on a series of cannabinoid receptors to support its
function. These receptors are actually cell membrane receptors that are
shaped like an "S." Each receptor has seven parts that are designed to
permeate cell membranes, where they couple with G-proteins.

This coupling is what produces a sensation response within the human
brain. The compounds that couple with cannabinoid receptors are known as
"lipophilic," or "fat-loving." These compounds include such naturally
synthesized compounds as endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids (these are
plant-derived compounds such as Cannabidiol, which comes from cannabis)
and synthetic cannabinoids.

Cannabinoid receptors are broken into two separate groups: CB1 and CB2.
These groups are quite distinctly different, although they do share some
similar traits. CB1 receptors, for example, are located predominantly in
the brain, kidneys, liver, lungs, body fat, muscle tissue, bones and
heart. These receptors are responsible for processing the psychoactive
traits of THC. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are located primarily
in the immune system and bloodstream, and in lesser amounts in the gut,
muscle, bone, nervous system and liver. These receptors provide pain
relief.

Endocannabinoid Receptors and the Balance of the ECS

When we talk about the balance of the ECS, we’re talking about the
presence and activity of CB1 versus CB2 within the body. In this case,
however, "balance" doesn’t mean a 50/50 split between CB1 and CB2.
Instead, optimal health can be achieved when people have slightly higher
levels of CB2 than they do CB1. This is because research has
shown
that people
with high levels of CB1 suffer from conditions associated with stress
and anxiety, such as paranoia, appetite loss, nausea and vomiting, pain
and improper immune function.

A high level of CB2, on the other hand, is associated with positive
effects, such as decreased inflammation, rapid tissue reconstruction and
healing, higher metabolic function, healthier levels of insulin, and
healthy energy levels.

In light of this, researchers have been working to produce effective CB1
blockers that can decrease the negative impacts of excess CB1 while
highlighting the positive aspects of CB2, such as increased metabolic
function. These products aim to improve the symptoms associated with
conditions like metabolic syndrome (such as elevated blood pressure and
blood sugar, high levels of body fat, and high cholesterol levels),
which is known to increase the likelihood of stroke, diabetes and
various forms of heart disease.

While more research is needed on the topic of CB1 blockers, preliminary
data has already shown that lowering CB1 levels in the body can help to
reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar, and aid
in abdominal fat loss, which results in a decreased risk for conditions
like type II diabetes and heart disease.

Balancing the ECS

Before you write it off completely, it’s important to remember that CB1
does serve an important purpose. Recent research has suggested that
maintaining the correct levels of CB1 within the body protects against
depressive symptoms and helps lower stress in
rodents
. This
proves the importance of maintaining balance in the ECS.

One of the most astounding functions of the ECS is that it helps control
and enhance the function of the integumentary system, which includes
hair and human skin cells. When the ECS is balanced, negative skin cell
growth and various forms of inflammation immediately decline. Because of
this, targeted manipulation of ECS balance has been posed as a treatment
option for people suffering from painful or dangerous skin conditions
such as acne, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and systemic sclerosis.

In addition to exploring CB1 blockers to help maintain a balance between
CB1 and CB2 within the human brain, scientists are also studying the
impact of diet. Currently, there is evidence that ample intake of
omega-3s and
omega-6s

can support the proper function of cannabinoid receptors within the
brain.

Perfect Balance Leads to Enhanced Function

Balancing the ECS is a delicate process but, when done correctly, it can
have a marked positive effect on lives. People with excessively high CB1
levels often struggle with things like inflammation, increased risk of
heart disease, obesity and diabetes. If CB1 is inhibited too much,
however, it leads to conditions like infertility, depression and
decreased immune function. At the same time, when CB2 levels are too
high, decreased immune function and impaired tissue healing are the
results.

In light of these findings, it’s clear that, to obtain optimal health,
people must focus more strongly on building and maintaining the proper
balance between CB1 and CB2 through the responsible use of CB1 blockers
and proper diet.

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