You likely graduated high school or college believing you had a decent understanding of how your body functions. You may even recall learning specific details about your circulatory system, digestive processes, or how your endocrine system regulates essential hormones. Since you likely assumed you’d learned just about everything you might need to know about biological processes, you may be somewhat surprised to be learning about an essential regulatory system that never made the curriculum. This communication network influences nearly every critical function in your body.
Researchers named this relatively recent discovery the endocannabinoid system (ECS) after the plant elements in cannabis that led to its discovery, cannabinoids. Understanding ECS function, and how this essential regulatory system interacts with plant-based cannabinoids, could help you decide if investing in hemp-derived products might be beneficial for you.
The Plant that Guided Researchers to a Fascinating Discovery
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, researchers made a series of significant breakthroughs while investigating the effects of cannabis. The road to discovery eventually led investigators to an entire network of messengers and receptors that regulate numerous processes essential to your health and well-being.
The answers to many intriguing questions are explained by the way the three main components of your ECS interact to keep vital processes working as they should. To understand the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids, you may find it helpful to start with a brief explanation of those three main components. Consider the potential impact of the following:
The Endocannabinoids Produced in Your Body
Endocannabinoids are lipids that function as the messengers of your endocannabinoid system. The two main endocannabinoids produced in your body are 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG ) and anandamide (AEA). Both endocannabinoids function as neurotransmitters. Although both endocannabinoids influence numerous processes, 2-AG is most actively involved in immune system function, while anandamide is strongly connected to pain perception and reward-seeking behavior.
The messengers of your endocannabinoid system relay vital information to your ECS receptors. The primary receptors of your endocannabinoid system are CB1 and CB2. Your CB1 receptors are highly concentrated in your central nervous system. CB2 receptors are found in their highest concentration in your peripheral nervous system and immune system. Both receptors are found in differing concentrations throughout your body.
The endocannabinoids made in your body are synthesized as needed and quickly broken down by metabolic enzymes. Anandamide is broken down by the fatty acid amidohydrolase (FAAH). 2-AG is broken down by amidohydrolase and monoacylglycerol (MAGL). Metabolic enzymes typically break down the endocannabinoids made in your body once their message is delivered.
ECS Function Influences Numerous Processes Throughout Your Body
The messengers of your endocannabinoid system interact with their corresponding receptors to initiate a response from your brain. The response generated is determined by the chemical composition of the message received. The interaction between the messengers and receptors of your endocannabinoid system is so essential to survival that many experts believe the ECS is responsible for regulating the processes of homeostasis, the internal balance that all living organisms must maintain to survive.
That means when internal or external forces threaten the essential balance, your ECS triggers a response intended to restore equilibrium. Just a few examples of the many processes regulated by endocannabinoid system function include:
- Immune system function
- Cardiovascular function
- Memory and learning
- Moods and emotions
- Appetite and metabolism
- Digestive processes
- Reproductive processes
- Muscle function
- Sleep cycles and circadian rhythms
- Endocrine system function
In a perfect world, your endocannabinoid system would make all the neurotransmitters necessary to keep essential processes functioning efficiently, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Illness, injury, and stress can increase the demand for ECS messengers.
When the demand exceeds the supply, communication between vital processes can fail. Maintaining balance is so essential to your overall well-being that many researchers believe endocannabinoid deficiencies cause disease, including difficult conditions like fibromyalgia, IBS, migraine, depression, and several neurodegenerative disorders.
Supporting ECS Function with Plant-Based Cannabinoids
Fortunately, there are two types of cannabinoids that influence the receptors of your endocannabinoid system, those made in your body (endocannabinoids), and the plant-based cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) found in cannabis plants (marijuana and hemp). Cannabis plants contain more than 100 potentially beneficial cannabinoids. The most well-known at this point are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and hemp.
Most of the hemp products available to consumers are sourced from industrial hemp, a cannabis plant that does not synthesize enough THC to cause intoxication. If you have concerns about the trace amounts (0.3 percent or less) of THC in full-spectrum hemp extract, you will likely be more comfortable using a hemp product made with a purified form of hemp extract, THC-free hemp.
Understanding How Hemp Influences Your Body
Regardless of the source, hemp mimics the effects of the endocannabinoids made in your body and interact with the receptors of your ECS. Hemp also interacts with several non-endocannabinoid system receptors, including the receptors of your GABA, dopamine, and serotonin systems.
It’s the interaction with numerous receptors throughout your body that explains why hemp is believed to be beneficial for so many seemingly unrelated concerns. Research suggests that the interaction between the hemp and numerous receptors throughout your body explains the cannabinoid’s anxiolytic, antispasmodic, analgesic, antiemetic, and antipsychotic properties.
Selecting the Products Best Suited to Your Needs
Although there are many ways to experience the therapeutic potential of hemp, the type of product you select will have a considerable impact on your overall experience. That’s why it’s important to choose the right product for your needs and your lifestyle. To help you decide which popular hemp product might be right for you, consider the features and benefits of some of these popular options.
The Ease of Using Hemp Tinctures
Hemp tinctures, a blend of plant extracts and a carrier oil, are quite popular with hemp users. That’s likely because tinctures are one of the easiest ways to experience the therapeutic potential of hemp.
Tinctures can be added to hot or cold beverages, blended into your favorite recipes, or swallowed just the way they are. But since digestive processes can reduce the amount of hemp utilized by your body, you may want to use the sublingual delivery method. To use your tincture sublingually, consider the following recommendations:
- Shake the bottle before use to ensure the hemp extract and carrier oil are blended.
- Measure your dosage with the built-in dropper attached to the lid.
- Place the tincture under your tongue.
- Hold the tincture in your mouth for 30-90 seconds, then swallow.
The sublingual delivery method allows the cannabinoids in your tincture to absorb into your bloodstream through the blood vessels under your tongue. Not only will fewer cannabinoids be lost to digestion, but you will also likely experience the effects much faster. Rather than waiting for up to two hours to experience results from a hemp edible, the full effects of sublingual delivery could be evident in as little as 20 minutes.
The Numerous Benefits of Vaping
Although vaping was originally introduced more than a decade ago as an alternative nicotine delivery system, hemp users soon discovered that there are many advantages of vaping hemp-infused e-liquids. If you currently smoke or vape, consider the following benefits of using hemp-infused vape products:
- Vaping is the fastest ways to experience the therapeutic potential of hemp
- No need to inhale the tar created by burning hemp flower (vape liquids do not ignite)
- Improved flavor and the ability to taste individual plant terpenes
- More control over usage and dosage than smoking
- The aroma dissipates quickly
- The effects of vaping hemp may be more potent than other delivery methods
- Most find they need to use a smaller dose of hemp vaping than using edibles
Many hemp users appreciate the convenience of disposable vape pens. Disposables are a no-fuss delivery system ready to use right out of the box. Customers who prefer using a rechargeable battery appreciate the option of pre-filled pods and cartridges. But if you already own vape gear, you may want to consider filling your favorite tank with a hemp oil formulated specifically for vaping.
Exploring the Targeted Benefits of Topical Products
If you are looking for a way to apply the therapeutic potential of hemp to specific areas of your body, consider investing in a topical product. hemp topicals interact with the ECS receptors in your skin to deliver targeted relief. Some of the many potential benefits of topical hemp include:
- Minimizing pain and reducing inflammation
- Reducing the frequency and severity of muscle spasms
- Protecting diseased joints from nerve damage
- Reducing the inflammation and discomfort caused by numerous skin conditions
- Balancing oil production to reduce oiliness or alleviate dryness
- Minimizing collagen loss and free-radical damage
Since many topical hemp products are formulated with botanicals selected to enhance their therapeutic potential, it’s important to pay attention to which waxes, plant extracts, and oils are listed in product ingredients. A hemp product intended for use on overworked muscles will have an entirely different composition than a hemp product formulated to nurture your skin.
It may be helpful to know that you can combine hemp-infused products to maximize to customize your results. Many people find it beneficial to use hemp tinctures, capsules, or gummies for daily ECS support while supplementing the effects as needed with hemp topicals and vape products. The choice is yours.
Enjoy the Benefits of Making Hemp a Part of Your Wellness Regimen
Now that you know how your ECS works, it’s much easier to understand why so many people are using hemp-derived hemp products. Although evidence supporting the therapeutic potential of hemp is based on laboratory studies, animal tests, and user testimonials, current research shows that supporting ECS function with plant-based cannabinoids could have a considerable impact on your overall health and well-being. We invite you to visit HempVita to explore our collection of potent, high-quality, organically grown and harvested hemp products.