Endocannabinoid system (ECS)
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system identified in the early 1990s by researchers exploring THC, a well-known cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis.
Experts are still trying to fully understand the ECS. But so far, we know it plays role in regulating a range of functions and processes, including:
- reproduction and fertility
The ECS exists and is active in your body even if you don’t use cannabis. It is a remarkably intricate system that is vital for learning, feeling and motivating.
How to boost the endocannabinoid system
1. Exercise – We all know how good exercise is for your overall health. This study found that running on a running wheel increased the CB1 receptor sensitivity and anandamide levels in mice.
2. Sunlight – Like exercise, sun exposure is crucial to optimal health. The numerous benefits of adequate sun exposure include better sleep, enhanced blood flow, improved cognition, improved mood, lowered blood pressure, optimised neurotransmitters and hormones, and lowered cancer risk.
3. Seafood and hemp seed oil – Omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are the building blocks of endocannabinoids.
4. Stress reduction practices (meditation, deep breathing yoga, massage and socialising) – It’s been shown by numerous studies that stress and chronic cortisol exposure reduce CB1 receptors and endocannabinoid levels.
Cold exposure is one of the most underrated health-boosting practices known to science. Short-term stressors like cold exposure are known as hermetic stressors because they elicit a positive adaptive response in your body.
6. CBD – There is also some evidence that CBD increases cannabinoid receptor density as well as endocannabinoids’ affinity to bind with receptors.
7. Olive oil – Extra virgin olive oil has been shown to produce “a remarkable (~4-fold) and selective increase in CB
8. Reduce caffeine and alcohol
Both caffeine and alcohol, when used chronically, can decrease endocannabinoid levels and receptor density. However, there is some research that suggest acute use of these substances may increase receptors, so once in a while should be fine.
9. Fasting – we know that fasting works in many ways to improve health over the long-term, such as by calibrating your body’s sensitivity to hormones such as insulin, reducing inflammation and promoting growth hormones.
10. Probiotics – Science is learning more and more about how your gut microbiome effects your overall health, including how important it is for your mental health. It’s not so surprising then that a probiotics – which can help populate your gut with healthy bacteria – can have positive effects on the ECS.