How to Boost the Endocannabinoid System
Curious how to boost your endocannabinoid system naturally?
The endocannabinoid system is a complex biological network that ensures several critical functions within our bodies continue to run smoothly.
Even if you don’t smoke or ingest weed in any way, this system is still vital for establishing that all these internal processes continue to work together and remain regulated to maintain homeostasis.
If that last term threw you for a loop, don’t worry about it. You don’t need to have a Ph.D. in molecular biology to get the gist of what it means.
Essentially, homeostasis is the ideal state for the body. It means that everything is functioning as it should be without any issues or interruptions. So, to put it simply, you want to be in homeostasis. Homeostasis should be the desired ‘home’ state for your body.
Get it now? Excellent!
So, with this newfound knowledge, it’s within our best interests to preserve and help fuel our endocannabinoid system to be the best it can be in any way that we can, but how do we do that?
Luckily for you, that’s precisely what we’re here to talk about today! We’re telling you some of the best methods to help ‘boost’ your endocannabinoid system to ensure that it is functioning at its fullest potential.
However, first things first, let’s provide a brief overview of the basics.
What is the Endocannabinoid System? Why do we Need to Keep it Healthy?
As we’ve already described, the endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short, is a complex biological network that helps maintain several crucial bodily functions to ensure that we feel healthy and well-balanced.
Examples of some of these functions include appetite, mood, memory, pain, and physical sensation.
So, suppose one or more of these processes or their corresponding systems experience something to throw them off.
In that case, the endocannabinoid system will prompt, you guessed it, endocannabinoids, to signal the cells in that given area by essentially sending a “Hey, U up?” message, having a quick chat, and working to rectify the situation if anything is wrong.
In a bit more detail, endocannabinoids are the most common neurotransmitters in the body. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that send these various signals from a neuron to what’s known as a synapse to target a particular cell.
The two most common endocannabinoids are called anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).
Since it plays a role in regulating so many different vital functions within our bodies, maintaining the endocannabinoid system by practicing proper upkeep is critical to promote homeostasis and ensure we feel our absolute best.
Want to get the full picture? Read our complete overview of the endocannabinoid system to learn more about what it does, why it’s important and how cannabis impacts and affects its various functions.
How to Boost the Endocannabinoid System
As we’ve discovered by now, our endocannabinoid systems do a whole hell of a lot for our bodies. In this sense, it’s essential to do our part to ensure that it runs smoothly to perform its laundry list of responsibilities effectively!
With this in mind, here are some of the best ways to boost and promote a healthy and happy endocannabinoid system.
As we explained above, the endocannabinoid system is what regulates our appetites, but did you also know that it contributes to taste sensation?
In the context of weed, this enhanced awareness is why many tokers experience a deeper appreciation for the various terpenes present in their bud and why they go out of their way to seek particular strains out.
Some foods can even enhance the effects of cannabis when ingested simultaneously. To learn more about one such example, check out our article on mango and weed!
In the realm of system upkeep, it’s important to note that endocannabinoids are generated from and broken down into fatty acids by the enzymes within the endocannabinoid system.
Some of these fatty acids are considered essential to promote and maintain homeostasis and an overall healthy system. Still, our body doesn’t generate them naturally. In other words, it’s up to us to include them in our diet.
Examples of these essential fatty acids include omega fatty acids 3, 6, and 9, DHA, and EPA, most commonly found in fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna.
For all our vegan friends out there, don’t panic! You can also source these fatty acids from other foods. For instance, for omega-3s, you can opt for chia seeds, walnuts or flaxseeds. If you’re looking for omega-6 rich foods, some examples include soybean oil, almonds, cashews and sunflower seeds. Finally, foods high in omega-9 fats include olive oil, avocado oil and walnuts.
Diets lacking these essential fat sources will become imbalanced or deficient, which could run the risk of your endocannabinoid system becoming dysfunctional.
Trust us. You don’t want that! Follow a healthy diet to boost your endocannabinoid system naturally.
Ensuring you keep up with a healthy exercise regimen is essential for maintaining your overall health, including the well-being of your endocannabinoid system. In particular, anandamide, one of the primary endocannabinoids we mentioned before, is released at increased levels when we exercise.
Have you ever experienced a runner’s high? Many researchers theorize that this sensation directly results from an influx of endocannabinoids working their way throughout your body.
Not only is exercise beneficial for promoting a healthy weight and energy levels, but it can also have substantial impacts on your mood, which, as we have now learned, the endocannabinoid system just so happens to maintain and regulate as well!
Scientists and tokers alike also posit that ingesting CBD before, during or after a workout may supply benefits such as increased energy, decreasing inflammation, balancing and regulating glucose levels, boosting mood and aiding in faster recovery times.
Be sure to check out our full breakdown on the CBD workout to learn how it may affect your exercise practices!
Not only does exercise contribute to mood and physical health, but making sure you get an appropriate amount of sleep is crucial in ensuring that your body operates as it should.
We’ve all likely experienced the unsavoury effects of not getting enough z’s in.
Sleep deprivation can cause a slew of unpleasant side effects, including moodiness, impaired memory, decreased immune function, and more. Within the body’s central nervous system, an increase in endocannabinoid levels serve to promote sleep-inducing effects.
In this way, the endocannabinoid system operates to regulate our body’s sleep cycle.
So, maintaining a healthy and consistent sleep schedule is one of the simplest yet most advantageous things you can do to help keep your body’s various rhythms running smoothly.
This direct relationship also correlates to how some cannabis strains can knock you out before you even have the time to say, “goodnight!”
For more information on how you can use cannabis for sleep and treat insomnia, check out our guide here.
Nobody likes to be stressed out, and the body experiencing moderate to high stress levels can actually serve to deplete the endocannabinoid system, which is something you should avoid!
According to a 2016 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews, stress can impact a wide range of physiological functions within the body that can directly affect one another and cause a “rapid shift in many neurobehavioural processes.”
That said, the ECS can also protect you from the unsavoury effects of stress. In terms of what you, as an individual, can do to promote this protection while also decreasing your stress levels, there are several different methods.
Examples of stress-busting activities may include socializing with friends and loved ones, meditation, yoga, massage, or something as simple as learning some breathing exercises.
Another fantastic stress-reducing solution we’ve already mentioned is exercise. Physical activity can help void the body of any pent-up or excess anxious energy and mitigate stress.
Lower Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol consumption can slow the repair and growth of new endocannabinoid receptors.
However, low to moderate alcohol consumption shouldn’t pose any real issues and is likely harmless to endocannabinoid function. That said, drinking in excess or binge drinking can substantially impair these receptors’ ability to process cannabinoids.
Additionally, researchers did not know until recently that the endocannabinoid system plays an active role in developing alcohol tolerance.
THC and alcohol both have the potential to promote dependency by eliciting rewarding effects, which can, in turn, lead to chronic and compulsive use by signalling and engaging similar pathways in the brain.
In other words, to get real for a second, when consumed frequently and in excess, the likelihood of developing an addiction will increase, with alcohol being arguably more difficult to shake than cannabis.
However, don’t get it twisted. Weed withdrawal symptoms are very real and can be quite unpleasant to experience. It takes work and commitment to rectify this dependency and return your body to a state of normalcy.
Keeping up With Your Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system has a direct impact on several different functions and networks within the body. In this way, doing the utmost to ensure that it is healthy is the best way to maintain homeostasis and feel the best you possibly can.
Ingesting a healthy amount of essential fatty acids, such as omega-3, 6, and 9, participating in regular exercise activities, getting plenty of restful sleep, minimizing stress and maintaining a healthy relationship with substances such as alcohol are among the most effective ways to promote and boost your endocannabinoid system.
None of these methods or tips are complicated, and they aren’t difficult to execute. When it comes down to it, consistency is key.
Ensuring that you keep up with these various practices is the best way to ensure that your endocannabinoid system is healthy and able to do everything it needs to, so you can stay happy, healthy, and balanced!