Science Tells Us How Hemp Oil Actually Works
Have you heard of the Endocannabinoid System?
While it sounds like it’s got something to do with “cannabis” (and it does), it’s a naturally occurring system in our bodies (and in all animals) that sits alongside many other systems like the nervous system, cardiovascular system, and digestive system, to name a few that will sound familiar.
What does it do?
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is responsible for maintaining and restoring homeostasis. That’s the optimal balance within our bodies when all our systems and processes (such as pumping heart, breathing lungs, digesting food) are working in perfect harmony.
What upsets homeostasis is disease or accident – say, you’ve got arthritis, or you fall over and break your leg. Or, you’ve got heart disease, or you cut yourself with a knife while making dinner. These diseases or events trigger other responses in the body – such as pain and inflammation. When these responses have done their job, the ECS kicks in to restore harmony. It uses naturally occurring cannabinoids (endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids) in our bodies to regulate the other systems.
Amazingly, the ECS has only been the subject of serious scientific research for a few decades, and animals such as dogs are now the focus of some exciting new studies.
But what does this have to do with cannabis, you may be wondering…
Cannabinoids are also found in plants such as Hemp (Cannabis sativa). There’s a lot more research being done now on the therapeutic possibilities of these phytocannabinoids, in the way they interact with our ECS.
I’ll come back to the external cannabinoids soon, let’s start with the internal cannabinoids, and their role in the whole ECS system.
ECS: A three-part system to maintain and restore inner harmony
The three main parts of the ECS system are the endocannabinoid molecules, the receptors CB1 and CB2 that the molecules attach to, and enzymes that break down the molecules once they’ve done their job.
Technically, the two main endocannabinoid molecules made in our bodies are called anandamide (AEA) – also known as the “bliss” molecule – and arachidonoyl ethanolamide (2AG).
There are two known receptors, CB1 which are primarily located in the central nervous system, and CB2 which are found on immune cells. There may be more than two receptors, and scientists are actively looking for them in both humans and animals
The ECS receptors act as an “override” signal, that tells the body to stop doing something – such as, when you sprain your ankle, your body’s response is to produce swelling and inflammation to protect the injury – the ECS tells your body to back off that response when there’s enough swelling.
If the ECS wasn’t functioning properly, imagine how big a sprained ankle could get.
Cannabinoids from Plants and their Therapeutic Properties
There are so many diseases and disorders of our body’s other systems that might be connected to a faulty ECS. Research is intensifying into how phytocannabinoids, such as those found in hemp plants, can interact with the ECS to get the system back on track.
CBD – cannabidiol, which is the active ingredient in Hemp Oil – is a that is the subject of a lot of trials and research.
What we know is that CBD doesn’t attach or bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors the same way that our endocannabinoids do – and that THC, the psychotropic cannabinoid does – rather, CBD improves the performance of our natural endocannabinoids. Current theories include that CBD lengthens the life of our endocannabinoids so they can do their jobs for longer before being broken down by the enzymes. Another theory is that CBD binds to a receptor that hasn’t yet been discovered.
Despite the debate and further studies needed, so far there’s compelling evidence that CBD can help alleviate many symptoms associated with diseases and disorders, such as pain, inflammation and autoimmune disorders, arthritis, nausea, anxiety and depression, seizure disorders, and more.
Hemp Oil and Dogs
This is an exciting area of research that is gaining momentum. We now know that dogs have a much higher amount of receptors in their brains. This is partly why the psychotropic cannabinoid TCH in marijuana is so toxic to dogs.
Hemp Oil, which contains CBD, is proving to be very effective as a therapeutic treatment for a range of conditions in dogs, such as arthritis and joint pain, skin irritations, behaviours such as anxiety, fear and aggression.
Hemp Oil can be prescribed by your veterinarian, who will advise you how to dose your pet, and what changes to look for during their treatment.
We are yet to know the full story about our Endocannabinoid System, and especially the full therapeutic potential of cannabinoids, but the signs are all good.
Disclaimer: the information provided in this article is general and is not meant as specific advice for any person or animal. The psychotropic cannabinoid THC found in marijuana is highly toxic to animals especially dogs. Always consult your veterinarian before giving your pet any hemp oil or CBD oil.