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Phyto cannabinoids and Endocannabinoids: What’s The Difference?

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Since hemp was legalized in 2018, millions of Americans have tried a CBD product. In fact, according to a 2019 Gallup poll, 14% of adults in the United States say that they use CBD. Yet despite the popularity of CBD, many people are unfamiliar with the science behind it and many of the terms used in the CBD world.

One example is cannabinoids, a substance that is critical to maintaining balance in our bodies. While many people are aware that cannabinoids can be extracted from the hemp plant, they may not know that our own bodies also produce cannabinoids. The main difference between plant-based cannabinoids (Phyto cannabinoids) and our bodies’ cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) is where they are produced.

Cannabinoids play an important role in our overall health and wellbeing. Boosting our natural endocannabinoids by taking a Phyto cannabinoid like CBD may assist our bodies with a number of conditions. Below, we explain more about what cannabinoids are – and how Phyto cannabinoids may benefit us.

What Are Cannabinoids?

If you are familiar with the term “cannabinoid,” you may associate it with cannabis or marijuana. This term is typically used to describe naturally-occurring substances found in the cannabis or hemp plant. To date, scientists have identified more than 100 cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is known for being the psychoactive component in marijuana.

These cannabinoids may also be referred to as Phyto cannabinoids. The prefix “Phyto” simply means that the cannabinoids are derived from a plant source (such as the cannabis sativa plant). Most people drop the “Phyto,” and simply refer to these compounds as cannabinoids.

However, the human body also produces its own cannabinoids, known as endogenous cannabinoids, or endocannabinoids. The prefix “endo” means within, which indicates that these cannabinoids originate within the body. Endocannabinoids play a crucial role in maintaining balance in our bodies.

The difference between Phyto cannabinoids and endocannabinoids is where they are produced. Phyto cannabinoids are produced by plants, while endocannabinoids are produced by mammals (including dogs and cats). Both types of cannabinoids are linked to the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Understanding the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) serves as a vital regulatory system in the human body, contributing to the maintenance of homeostasis or balance. Discovered in 1992 during THC research, the ECS revealed the presence of endocannabinoids within the human brain, indicating the body’s ability to produce cannabinoids internally.

Components of the ECS

The ECS comprises three primary components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids, molecules synthesized by the body, include anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG), produced as needed to regulate physiological functions.

Endocannabinoid Receptors

Endocannabinoid receptors are distributed throughout the body, with two main types: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors reside in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system. These receptors bind with endocannabinoids to facilitate homeostasis maintenance.

Enzymatic Regulation

Enzymes play a crucial role in the ECS by breaking down endocannabinoids after they fulfill their functions. Fatty acid amide hydrolase degrades AEA, while monoacylglycerol acid lipase typically breaks down 2-AG, ensuring balanced regulatory processes within the body.

While scientists have not yet discovered all of the ECS’ functions, research has connected it to a number of functions in the human body, including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammation
  • Mood
  • Metabolism
  • Appetite and digestion
  • Motor control
  • Bone remodeling and growth
  • Liver function
  • Learning and memory
  • Sleep
  • Cardiovascular system function
  • Reproductive system function and fertility
  • Liver function
  • Skin and nerve function
  • Stress response

The ECS kicks in when something is out of balance in your body. For example, if you hurt your back, the ECS may release endocannabinoids to target CB1 receptors in a spinal nerve to relieve pain and reduce inflammation – bringing your body to homeostasis. Importantly, because endocannabinoids are produced when needed, there isn’t a standard level of endocannabinoids that should be present in your body.

Low levels of endocannabinoids, or ECS dysfunction, may be linked to certain conditions, such as migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. These conditions often do not have a clear underlying cause, so scientists have theorized that clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) may be the reason that some people develop these issues. Although the research into CECD is still emerging, it is possible that taking Phyto cannabinoids – such as CBD – could help people who have low levels of endocannabinoids.

Can Taking Phyto cannabinoids Benefit Me?

Adding a Phyto cannabinoid, such as CBD, CBG, CBN and other Phyto cannabinoids to your diet may boost your health and wellness in a number of ways. While research into CBD is still in its early stages, scientists have found that Phyto cannabinoids like CBD may help to alleviate certain conditions, including:

Because CBD affects people in different ways – and may interact with certain medications – you should always consult with your doctor before taking CBD or another supplement. Your doctor may also be able to advise you about proper serving sizes and other potential benefits of CBD.

If you are interested in trying CBD for yourself, be sure to look for products that have been independently tested, with the results available online for your review. Because CBD is not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this is the best way to ensure that you are getting what you pay for – and not getting anything that you don’t want.

Considering CBD? We’re Here to Help.

Although scientists aren’t exactly sure how CBD interacts with the ECS, they have discovered a range of potential benefits. If you want to add CBD to your diet, we can help. Our team is highly knowledgeable about CBD, and can guide you towards products that meet your unique needs. We have a few options to help you learn more: The Endocannabinoid System Explained or Our Beginner’s Guide to CBD

At Green Wellness Life, we aren’t doctors, and cannot diagnose or treat any medical condition. What we can do is offer you our personal experience and knowledge alongside the latest scientific research into CBD. To learn more, call us at 866-244-4223 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST), press the live chat button, or fill out our online contact form.

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