CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

I hope you Llamas out there are all enjoying the shortest day of the year and the holiday season!  As I sip my mulled cider, I am marveling at how the old and the new are always coming together. With hemp, we can take the best of old-world traditions and knowledge and combine them with the latest science and the information dissemination infrastructure – to better understand hemp and ourselves, and to better harness plant medicine that has been around for millennia so we can have more active and happy lives, especially as we get long in the tooth! 

Hemp has been under human cultivation for many thousands of years and has had various uses in plant medicine such as for glaucoma, headaches, sleep, pain and mood in various cultures over time.  Evidence of its benefit was gathered empirically by practitioners of plant medicine in various cultures and sometimes recorded. 

The Egyptians recorded a pharmacopeia on papyrus paper with references to cannabis for headaches and other conditions, for example. Now we have refined the process of making scientific studies and analyzing those studies in a way that can better define the effects and uses of cannabinoids in a more unbiased, rigorous and statistically validated way.

So, you may be wondering, what is the Endocannabinoid system? (Endocannabinoid system will hereafter be referred to as the ECS). And how do CBD and other cannabinoids such as CBG, THC and Delta-8 work? Great questions!

I will attempt to answer most of these questions in today’s blog. However, we will more fully cover the effects of non-CB cannabinoids such as Delta-8 and THC in a future blog.

So, let’s jump right in!

The ECS 

The ECS is mainly composed of cannabinoid receptors located in the cell walls of tissues throughout the body, and of endogenous cannabinoids that circulate through the body. These circulating cannabinoids interact with the receptors in a lock and key fashion, thereby exerting physiological effects on the cells and tissues where these receptors are located.

Endogenous here implies produced within the body, as opposed to exogenous cannabinoids which are produced outside the body. For the purposes of this blog, the exogenous cannabinoids we are dealing with are those produced by the plant Cannabis sativa, also known as Hemp, including those found in Happy Llama products.  

At the time of this writing, there are two known and well characterized ECS receptors, known simply as type I and type II receptors, also designated as CB1R and CB2R in scientific articles. There are also other ways the cannabinoids cause their effects that are still being studied.

Type I and Type II Receptors

Your body produces two cannabinoids known as anandamide and 2-AG.  Anandamide binds mainly to the type I receptor and 2-AG (2 arachidonoylglycerol) binds mainly to the type II ECS receptor.  However, there is some affinity for both receptors for these, and most other cannabinoids. This could help explain how CBD has been found to be effective in relieving pain and in helping specific types of seizure conditions.

Type I receptors have their highest concentration of expression in the nervous system, but are also found in the gut, adrenals, heart, lungs, prostate gland, mitochondria of muscle cells, and the testes and ovaries.

Type II receptors are found in the immune system including in all types of white blood cells as well as in the bone marrow, thymus, and tonsils (see reference #1). Thus the immune system is highly significant in mediating the effects of CBD and CBG, and there are theories that this is how CBD shows inhibition of cancer cell growth in issue cultures. As Llamas, we don’t condone animal studies the way they are often done, but we are aware that there are animal studies showing this as well. 

CBD is similar in its effect on the body as to 2-AG, while THC is similar or analogous to anandamide. In fact, it was because of the profound and beneficial effects of cannabis and hemp-derived cannabinoids that scientist decided to search for the ECS in the human body.  

So, bottom line, CBG acts like a key in the locks found in your ECS that can result in decreased inflammation, pain relief, a decrease in anxiety, improved sleep, and in reduction in systems of arthritis. The National Institutes of Health have published articles suggesting that Cannabinoids have the potential beneficial for a wide variety of autoimmune, diseases, inflammatory conditions, and neurological and hematological conditions.

THC and Delta-8

THC and delta-8 work largely through the nervous system and thus can improve mood and enhance energy levels and creativity, as well as improving pain in many different conditions, not to mention the helpful role they may play in addictions. Another huge area for neurology and aging populations is that they may have beneficial effects on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. If you can keep a loved one at home longer and in better spirits during a difficult time, it can make a huge difference!  Of that, I am sure.

It is important to mention that the Happy Llama Hemp Company oils actually contain a blend of cannabinoids based in large part on the particular strain of hemp that the cannabinoids were extracted from. The spectrum of cannabinoids in a product altogether creates what is known as the entourage effect – perhaps a subject for a future blog. Suffice it to say for now that the entourage effect is a situation in which the effect is greater than the sum of the cannabinoids. 

Cannabinoids have a synergy with each other that can produce greater healing together than if the most active cannabinoid is selected and isolated. None of the products will exceed the relatively small concentration of THC of 0.3% as regulated under the hemp industry provisions. Scan the QR code on our Happy Llama full-spectrum CBD formulation to review the cannabinoid mixture. You will find that CBD is definitely the most concentrated, but there are smaller concentrations of other cannabinoids that provide the benefits of the entourage effect with our full-spectrum and our specially blended oils.

Until next time, enjoy this nice graphic of the tissue distribution of the ECS thanks to our National Institutes of Health at the top of the article.  


1.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7556170/

Chart is taken from reference #2.

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5877694/

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