Throughout the 1990s, researchers looking into cannabis for its health effects began to unravel a mystery that culminated in the discovery of a whole new system in the body. Called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), this vast network of transmitters, receptors, and enzymes can be thought of as a sort of “house manager” that keeps many of the other systems in your body in a healthy state of balance.
What’s unique about your ECS is that it contains chemical agents called cannabinoids. These are special compounds that work to relay information along neural pathways and interact with key receptors in your brain and body so that processes such as metabolism, digestion, memory, cognition, and immunity can function optimally. This helps ensure that your body stays healthy and strong.
However, just like with vitamins and minerals, cannabinoids can become depleted or damaged. When this happens, a condition known as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CED) may set in.
How CBD Helps Your Endocannabinoid System
Just like your body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids (which are often referred to as endocannabinoids), the CBD that’s found in cannabis is also a cannabinoid. It is considered one of the most powerful in terms of its health-balancing benefits. Here’s why:
- CBD works to help limit the breakdown, deactivation, and uptake of your body’s natural endocannabinoids.
- CBD has also been shown to help increase your brain’s endocannabinoid levels.
Because of CBD’s protective properties, it may assist in reducing your risk for CED and all the detrimental health conditions that can come with it. For instance, CBD works to positively regulate a key endocannabinoid called anandamide, better known as “the bliss molecule.” Anandamide’s many health benefits include:
- Lowering inflammation, which is associated with many chronic conditions
- Relieving pain
- Enhancing memory
- Protecting against stress, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD
- Helping inhibit the production of certain cancer cells
- Balancing mood and bridging in feelings of happiness
So rather than healing a specific disease, CBD’s job as a cannabinoid is to help balance your internal endocannabinoids and system responses so that your risk for diseases may be reduced and the symptoms of health conditions can be better managed.
What to Look for When Shopping for CBD
Hemp Oil vs. Hemp Extract
CBD and other healthy cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are extracted from the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant and form an oil known as hemp extract. This product contains the healthy ingredients needed to help regulate your ECS and balance the release and uptake of hormones, signaling agents, and other key chemicals. That’s why when you’re shopping for CBD products, it’s best to choose those that contain hemp extract.
Hemp oil, on the other hand, comes from hemp seeds and contains only trace amounts of CBD. It provides a health boost through its dietary omega-3 and omega-6 essential fats in much the same ways the seeds do.
Third-Party Testing of Hemp Extract Products
To ensure you find high-quality CBD free of pesticides, heavy metals, and contaminants, look for a company that has “third-party testing” done on all its products. Independent lab analysis will analyze a product’s contents to confirm it contains the amount of CBD and other healthy ingredients that it claims it does.
Companies who do third-party testing of their hemp products will often list a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from their testing lab on the website so that you can compare it against the product description.
The Importance of Organic Hemp Farming Practices
Hemp is what’s known as a “bioaccumulator,” which is a plant that can naturally remove pesticides and other harmful toxins from the soil. This is why you’ll want to purchase CBD that’s sourced from growers who use organic farming methods so that you can be sure the soil and cultivating methods are pure.