As more people come out about their regular marijuana use, the benefits of the plant continue to attract attention. Deservedly so. This not only lessens public stigma, it also makes you wonder; how can one plant relieve so many different afflictions? To understand how marijuana works with the body, one must first understand the Endocannabinoid Sy stem.
If the Endocannabinoid System is new to you, you aren’t alone. In a 2013 survey researchers found that only 13% of American medical schools teach their students about the ECS. If you’d like you can obtain a general understanding of the ECS, as I’ll be referring to it throughout the article.
The ECS is comprised of cannabinoid receptors, enzymes, and you guessed it, endocannabinoids! Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters that interact with cannabinoid receptors throughout the body.
While primarily found in the brain and spinal cord; cannabinoid receptors can be found in various tissues such as the gut, liver, heart, bones, kidneys, blood vessels, lymph cells, etc etc.
You get the point. They’re everywhere.
In a nutshell, the main role of the ECS is to regulate a few small things like:
- Motor Control
- and almost everything else
The link between the ECS and marijuana lies with the endocannabinoid anandamide, also known as the Bliss Molecule. Anandamide is one of two primary endocannabinoids, and just so happens to closely resemble the cannabinoid THC. In fact, the two are so similar that THC can interact with cannabinoid receptors.
I get that it’s hard to believe there’s a magical “bliss molecule” created within our own body. I too have lived through Monday’s. The reason we aren’t in a constant state a pure bliss is thanks to the final piece of the ECS pie.
The enzyme known as fatty acid amide hydrolase, or FAAH. Once anandamide enters a cell, FAAH starts to break down the happy little endocannabinoid. Basically, FAAH is the ultimate buzzkill.
Luckily for you, there are ways to reduce the amount of FAAH in your system.
Unlock the Bliss Molecule
While THC interacts directly with cannabinoid receptors, CBD takes a more subtle approach. CBD interferes with FAAHs ability to break down anandamide, giving our own naturally produced bliss a longer lifespan. Which if you’ve ever smoked a high CBD strain, makes complete sense.
Anandamide does more than promote “good vibes”. The neurotransmitter plays a role in maintaining homeostasis, and can even inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. Everybody on board the anandamide train? Good. There are other ways to reduce FAAH, therefore increasing anandamide besides the use of CBD. Let’s take a look at some, shall we?
Try a Different High
Most people associate “runners high” with the rush of endorphins that physical activity provides. While that remains true, endorphins aren’t the only ones to thank. Anandamide levels increase after only 30 minutes of exercise, no doubt enhancing the euphoria. If running isn’t your thing, you’ll like the next one.
Eat some Chocolate
Chocolate’s dual-attack make it the perfect mood booster. Not only does it interact with the cell receptors, it a lso effects FAAH in the same way as CBD. Keep in mind that not any chocolate works this way. You’ll want to get your hands on some high quality dark chocolate. The less added sugar the better.
Camp out with Kaempferol
Kaempferol is a flavonoid found in a number of fruits, vegetables, and plant-derived foods/drinks. This flavonoid is a natural antioxidant, shows potential anti-cancer properties, and inhibits the metabolization of anandamide. Foods such as cucumbers, grapes, spinach, berries, green tea, broccoli, apples, and peaches are all great sources of kaempferol.
Many people are drawn to cannabis for the tunnel vision it can provide. Have you ever wondered what causes this phenomenon? After your neurons fire, they release endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids tell your neurons to “take a coffee break”. This prevention of overreacting neurons is what allows us to maintain a calm and clear thought process.
Enter Marijuana. Cannabinoids interrupt the coffee break and gets those neurons back-a-firin’. This time, there are no coffee breaks. With parts of your brain firing non-stop you’re able to spend more time on the miniscule, sometimes mundane, details of whatever you may be working on. If you’re planning on using marijuana strictly to improve focus, you may want to get into microdosing. CBD oils are a great way to control dosage and there’s plenty of great dab rigs on the market to deliver a quality smoking experience.
Get Old, Get High
While the common consensus is that marijuana can have negative effects on the developing brain, the aged brain is a different story. The brain gradually displays increasing evidence of inflammation after the age of 30. Inflammation of the brain can lead to a decline in production of neurons, called neurogenesis. Studies have demonstrated that stimulating cannabinoid receptors in the brain can reduce inflammation and help restore neurogenesis.
Dr. Gary Wenk has done unbelievable work researching the use of marijuana to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. His lab dubbed the motto “a puff is enough”, as they’ve found a single puff of marijuana a day is enough to provide substantial benefits.
The importance of the ECS in mental and physical health is becoming more and more apparent.
Stimulating your cannabinoid receptors is a great way to promote a healthy ECS, so you can feel good about your smoke sessions. That being said, there are plenty of ways to increase the production of endocannabinoids.
Now that we are starting to understand how cannabis interacts with our body, it’s easier to legitimize the benefits that many users claim. As with every article regarding marijuana use, more research is still needed. As the stigma around the plant diminishes, it’s easier for this research to be to be completed.