The Missing Piece to Your Wellness Routine: CBD
We know that there are several integral parts to a wellness routine including that of nutrition, movement, mindfulness, personal development, and more. Each of these aspects play a different role in our livelihoods and expansion as energetic beings living a human experience. We usually take part in a wellness routine to enhance support, decrease anything that’s excessive, or just maintain overall wellbeing.
The missing piece to your routine may be cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD. Before you think that CBD is a drug or that it is psycoactive and just medicinal marijuana, think again. CBD is completely distinct from THC which is the compound found in marijuana responsible for that ‘high’ everyone associates it with. In order for CBD to even be legal, it cannot have THC. It actually can only contain traces of it; less than .3%. Broad spectrum CBD is completely THC free, for example. Part of destigmatizing the hemp plant is to delve into education before stepping into assumption.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the hype and all the claims from various brands and influencers, but I am here to educate you on the facts, so you can decide for yourself and better understand its impact. However, there’s a key reason why it’s so effective and it’s not talked about enough: the endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short. Bioindividuality is key, so while CBD may work for many, it may not work for you, but there’s really no harm in trying it and finding out.
The Endocannabinoid System
Just like any other system in our bodies such as the cardiovascular, or musculoskeletal system, we also have an internal biological system known as the ECS which is in charge of critical processes in the body. You might be wondering why it is that you haven’t heard of the ECS and this is mainly because it was only discovered in 1988. It is also closely related to cannabinoids which are found in hemp and marijuana and of course, there is an extreme level of stigma when it comes to these plants.
The purpose of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis, otherwise known as the body’s internal equilibrium. In order to align the body back to balance when it is thrown off, there are certain bodily mechanisms that must be modulated. For example, the ECS plays a major role in managing sleep wake cycles, metabolism, immune function, pain and inflammation responses, and so much more. The lack of knowledge on the ECS is concerning because many people who are experiencing treatment resistant chronic conditions may actually have something wrong with their ECS.
The ECS is a network within the body that does not have a centralized location, much like the immune system. Think of it as a series of highways, drivers, cars, and destinations all serving a different purpose. There are 3 main components: the endogenous cannabinoids we produce, the receptors they interact with, and the enzymes that break down the endogenous cannabinoids once they have served their function.
Our bodies produce two types of endocannabinoids known as anandamide (aka the bliss molecule) and 2-AG. In order for them to take effect, our bodies interact with them through receptors which you can think of as ports. There are two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mainly located in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) while the CB2 receptors are found in vascular areas including organs and the peripheral nervous system. The main enzymes in charge of degrading the endocannabinoids are known as FAAH and MGL.
As scientific studies emerge, so does the knowledge on this biological system and the roles it plays within us. Much of the research is suggesting that there is such a thing as an endocannabinoid deficiency. It could be that our bodies are not producing a sufficient amount of endocannabinoids or the receptors are not sensitive enough which may weaken the signalling and overall function. Some studies even suggest that an endocannabinoid deficiency may be a key underlying cause for treatment resistant conditions like depression, IBS, migraines, fibromyalgia, and more.
CBD & The ECS
You may be wondering how CBD and the ECS are related. While we produce endocannabinoids, the hemp plant also produces its own cannabinoids and there are many of them. However, CBD was one that was identified a while back and it is one of the reasons why it is so popular today. There are other emerging cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, and more, but for now CBD has the front and center of the stage.
A cannabinoid is just a plant compound found within the cannabis sativa hemp plant and it is thought to have numerous medicinal benefits. Many academic studies suggest that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. My acupuncturist told me something that really stuck with me and that is that inflammation is the root cause of most diseases. Because CBD interacts with the ECS, some research suggests that it affects the inflammatory response through the immune system.
When we are faced with autoimmune conditions or other painful issues, our bodies are usually in a hyperactive state with an immune system that is overexpressive leaving us with chronic inflammation. This potentially explains why CBD is such a powerful inflammation and pain reliever. The benefits don’t seem to stop there though. CBD is also believed to help with sleep, anxiety, depression, and more.
Other research indicates that CBD may play a role in serotonin production which is responsible for maintaining our stable mood, keeping our nerves at bay, and helping us create regular sleep wake cycles. When it’s out of whack though, it can lead to anxiety, sleepless nights, and overall irregularities. Because CBD may affect the way we produce and interact with serotonin, this may explain its powerful influence on sleep. Melatonin along with our overall circadian rhythm, or biological clock, helps us get to sleep and stay asleep until the time is right. Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin, and without it, we could not produce melatonin to help us sleep. It could be that via this mechanism, CBD plays a role in helping those with insomnia and anxiety.
Supporting the ECS
There are several ways we can take action to better support our ECS and influence its optimal function. One of the main ways to support this system is by taking cannabidiol. CBD works in various ways to support the ECS. Firstly, it interacts with the CB receptors making them more sensitive and helping them work better with our endocannabinoids our bodies produce. It may also stimulate our bodies to produce more endocannabinoids or produce less of them should there be a deficiency or excess.
Many patients with movement, or psychiatric disorders have excessive anandamide levels and while anandamide is the bliss molecule and helps us feel good, too much of it can present itself as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, and more. CBD may help alter endocannabinoid levels and some studies suggest it may be a therapeutic option for those struggling with movement and psychiatric disorders.
You can support your ECS holistically by engaging in stress reducing activities. This system works best when we are calm. Incorporate more movement in your daily life, sleep more, and eat certain supportive foods. Nutrition plays a major role in the health and function of our ECS.
ECS Supporting Foods:
Probiotic-rich fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, etc.)
Prebiotic-rich foods (plantains, asparagus, jerusalem artichokes, berries, legumes)
‘Superfoods’ (cacao/dark chocolate, maca, turmeric)
Beta-caryophyllene terpene-rich spices (black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, clove)
Omega-rich foods (chia seeds, walnuts, EVOO)
Cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, brussel sprouts, broccoli)
Finding the Right CBD
Finding the right CBD product for you can be difficult when the industry is oversaturated with brands to choose from and it is not an FDA approved product enabling brands to cut corners. There are 3 main CBD types on the market: isolate, full spectrum, and broad spectrum. Isolate is pure CBD, but the extract is stripped from other hemp components which house many benefits. Full spectrum houses the entire plant extract, but there are minimal traces of THC. Broad spectrum is the best in my opinion as it is THC free, yet you still get the entire hemp extract. Here are some tips to find a reputable CBD brand.
Only buy your products from brands that have a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
The brand must have certificates of analysis that prove the products have undergone rigorous testing for pesticides, heavy metals, and to prove that what they say is in their product is actually true.
The type of CBD and concentration should be front and center on the labels and website.
There should be an educational section that helps you better understand the scientific mechanisms and provides you with legitimate resources.
It shouldn’t be too cheap, but it shouldn’t be too expensive. A normal price for a good CBD oil tincture is anywhere from 60-180 depending on the amount of CBD.
There should be minimal ingredients. For example, a tincture oil should only contain CBD and a carrier oil like coconut, olive, or hemp seed oil.
Remember that the key to CBD is consistency and patience. It might be a while before you feel the effects. I recommend tinctures above all else as this method is the most efficacious and potent without unnecessary fillers and additives.
I hope that this article has educated you a bit on CBD, the ECS, and their impact on our wellbeing. Feel free to reach out to me at any time should you have any questions.
This piece was written and contributed by:
Emily Volovitz is a reiki practitioner, intuitive guide, life mentor, and energy worker. Having gone through body image issues, and family/childhood trauma, she found that there wasn’t a unique space to hone it all in. She created a space where individuals can connect with every part of themselves.
She was born and raised in Miami, FL with a Colombian background. At 18, she moved to London and later to Amsterdam where she currently resides.
Emily's mission is to help individuals get closer to who they truly are, combining all the various methods that have helped her find her own alignment, in order to assist and propel the collective into a space of greater love and light. Tough life experiences disconnect human beings from their natural state of being, one that is aligned and vivacious. She believes that it is not a matter of healing, but a matter of getting closer to our essence.