You work too hard but never hard enough. You don’t drink enough water but way too much caffeine. You don’t get enough sleep but still can’t fall asleep. Sound familiar? It’s no wonder that we can feel less than our best even when we are “living our best lives.” And let’s face it: prescription drugs or medication are not always the answer.
We’re looking for solutions at every turn. Americans spent almost $43 billion on dietary supplements in 2018, often aimed at correcting an imbalance in the digestive or neurological system. Millions turn to yoga, meditation, or mindfulness to create that mind-body connection. Others invest in the latest advancements in sleep technology to find rest — sleep trackers, ambient noise machines, high tech pillows and mattresses.
Balance is the key to good health. A mix of fresh fruits & vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains makes for a balanced diet. A healthy rotation of exercises at the gym makes sure you don’t have Popeye arms and toothpick legs. Even your skin needs balance — balanced pH levels ensure your skin is not too oily or too dry and irritated.
Finding balance in our bodies can feel elusive. Enter: The Endocannabinoid System.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system (or ECS for short) serves as the modulator of other neurotransmitter systems in your body. It is the only bi-directional neurotransmitter system we have. This means that while your synapses (remember those from high school biology?) fire in one direction to send messages, your ECS creates and transmits compounds — called cannabinoids — that return those signals, creating a feedback loop and improving connections between your neurons.
(You might be thinking, Why didn’t I learn about the ECS in the same high school biology lesson as those synapses? As it turns out, the ECS was not discovered until the early 1990s when scientists first began investigating why and how compounds from the cannabis plant impact our body. More on that in “The History and Uses of Cannabis.”
What are cannabinoids?
Endocannabinoids are the natural compounds your body produces (endo = internal). Sometimes your body doesn’t produce enough which may result in physiological or emotional effects. To counteract this deficiency, many look to phytocannabinoids (phyto = plants) to supplement their own production and find more balance. Cannabinoids are found in the cannabis plant, otherwise known as hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the regulated production of hemp in the US, which is why you have likely started to see and hear about hemp- or cannabis-related products pop up all around you.
We still have a lot to learn about the different types of cannabinoids, but there are a few things we know for sure. While CBD has been identified as the most important cannabinoid other than THC, there are many others (over 100+ have been identified). Often referred to as ‘minor cannabinoids’, these other types of cannabinoids are important in their own right. Here are the 4 cannabinoids you should know about, starting with the big kahuna.
#1 CBD – the “Hero” cannabinoid
People report a variety of physiological and emotional benefits associated with the use of CBD.
- Reduced feelings of anxiety
- Improved ability to navigate stressful situations
- Improved quality of sleep
- Reduced symptoms of inflammation from daily environmental and physical stressors
- May help reduce localized pain symptoms, particularly when applied topically
- Reduced discomfort in pets (yes, pets!) due to age or stress-related symptoms
Note: If you are struggling with chronic anxiety disorder or chronic inflammation, please consult your medical professional before starting any new regiment.
#2 CBG – a “minor” cannabinoid that is gaining major interest
The studies on CBG are pre-clinical, but there is evidence that CBG has several benefits via different physiological pathways than CBD, like:
- CBG regulates mood via ability to boost anandamide, the body’s natural ‘bliss’ molecule
- Reduces symptoms of inflammation from daily environmental and physical stressors
- Reduces symptoms of anxiousness by acting as a GABA reuptake inhibitor
- Potentially acts as a neuroprotectant
- Potentially acts as a vasodilator
- Has anti-bacterial attributes when applied topically
#3 CBN – another minor cannabinoid often called the “Sleep Cannabinoid”
A minor cannabinoid, CBN Is gaining lots of attention and often called the “sleep cannabinoid.” Studies are also pre-clinical, but there is evidence that CBN has several benefits, such as:
- CBN may act as a sedative
- Has anti-bacterial attributes when applied topically
- Can reduce pain symptoms
As you can see, there is more than just knowing about CBD when it comes to understanding the power of the cannabis plant. While more research is needed to understand the full benefits and possible side effects of the wide variety of phytocannabinoids, early indicators are promising and explain why the CBD world is accelerating so quickly. We are not yet at the point where anyone should rely on cannabinoids to treat or cure any chronic conditions or illnesses. That said, cannabinoids can be a powerful tool in your toolbox — particularly if you are looking for non-traditional forms of relief. If you are currently on a medical regiment, please consult with your doctor before adding to or changing your routine.
NEEDED Blends provides tailored CBD, CBG and CBN blends to meet a wide variety of needs.