Even though the endocannabinoid system (ECS) may be a recently discovered one, it is still a vital one within the human body and needs to be supported in the same way as any other system would be, such as the nervous system, immune system and digestive system.
What is the endocannabinoid system?
Discovered in the 1960s when research was being carried out on the effect of cannabis on the human body, a new system was found that manufactures the body’s own form of cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids (‘endo’ meaning inside’), and uses these through a series of receptors. These receptors are found throughout the body in the central nervous system, ready to bind with endocannabinoids.
This extremely complex system has been shown to contribute to:
- Memory & learning
- Skin and nerve function
- Reproductive system function
- Liver function
Many factors including prescription medicines, poor diet and stress can wreak havoc with our ECS, which can lead to a number of health issues and make us feel unwell. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to fixing an imbalanced system, but there are some ways which could have benefits:
You know that great endorphin rush you get after an intense workout? This is actually down to endocannabinoids. Exercise helps to increase the levels of anandamide which is an endocannabinoid in the blood that causes that euphoric feeling. An increase in exercise can also help manage stress levels which in turn, helps to keep your endocannabinoid system balanced. Win win!
Supplement with CBD
Topping up your body’s own levels of endocannabinoids with a daily dose of CBD may help if your own system is under strain, and helps to up-regulate the ECS. In other words, it’s a super-boost for our endocannabinoid system! Start off with a low dose and gradually build up over time, depending on how you feel.
Eat the right foods
Certain foods can help to support and stimulate your endocannabinoid system, including essential fatty acids in foods like eggs, seeds, nuts and oily fish. Some herbs and spices can help too, including curcumin which is the active ingredient in turmeric, and can help raise levels of endocannabinoids. Finally, cacao powder contains compounds that are very similar in structure to endocannabinoids. Good news for chocolate lovers! Look for at least 70% dark chocolate to get the greatest benefit.
As mentioned earlier, stress can mess with our ECS, but having a system that’s working in tip-top condition can help to protect from the damaging effects stress has on the body. Try practicing yoga or meditation to aid relaxation if you are feeling frazzled. If you’re not feeling very mindful, unwind by reading or doing a puzzle.
Get some sunshine
Not only does the sun help our bodies to produce vitamin D, but just 15 minutes of sunshine can raise levels of endocannabinoids in the body. This is especially important in the winter months, when we are wrapped up head to toe against the elements, so taking a lunchtime stroll is a great way of combatting this whilst getting some steps in too.