Are We Built for CBD? Exploring the Human Cannabinoid System

We’ve all heard about the benefits of CBD. It can help regulate our sleep, relieve pain, reduce anxiety, and even treat serious conditions like epilepsy and opioid addiction. But our relationship with CBD might go beyond that — recent research suggests that our bodies are actually built to use cannabis.

As scientists learn more about the human cannabinoid system, they’re also discovering surprising ties between cannabis and human biology. Here’s a quick overview of our history with cannabis and how our bodies are hardwired to use it. 

The Endocannabinoid System: What Is It?

You might have heard about the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, if you keep up with current medical news. It’s a recently discovered transmitter system in our bodies that regulates important functions like sleep, memory, emotion, hunger, and more. 

The ECS is still being studied and isn’t as widely understood as other systems in our bodies. That said, we generally know how it works and how it interacts with CBD. Here’s a super-basic explanation: Cannabinoid receptors in our cells interact with endocannabinoid transmitters to send messages across the body. Our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids, but they’re also found in CBD products. 

That’s why taking CBD has so many benefits — it naturally boosts the system that regulates all those critical functions. 

The Coevolution of Humans and Cannabis

Now, here’s where things get interesting. It isn’t just a cool coincidence that CBD interacts with the cannabinoid system in humans — it’s actually the result of thousands of years of coevolution. 

Mutualistic coevolution refers to two or more species impacting one another’s evolution. Humans have coevolved with countless species, including domestic cats, dogs, and honeybees. Now that we have a better understanding of the endocannabinoid system in humans, it’s pretty clear that humans and cannabis plants coevolved, too. Modern research suggests we used cannabis as long as 6 million years ago.

Over the millennia, the human body evolved to respond to CBD, and cannabis evolved to have medicinal effects on humans. Pretty wild, right?

Why Don’t We Talk About Coevolution?

Coevolution is no secret. It gave us our favorite pets, plants, and even medicines like aspirin. But when it comes to cannabis and other criminalized plants, we usually don’t talk about coevolution. Fortunately, that is finally starting to change. 

The history of recreational marijuana use shows us how cannabis was stigmatized for most of the 20th century. That’s when many important scientific discoveries were being made, including the coevolution of humans and other species. So it’s no wonder that there was no research into our coevolution with cannabis! Marijuana and other psychoactive plants were blacklisted for decades. 

The Future of CBD and Endocannabinoid Research

Cultural taboos around cannabis are finally starting to shift. Modern science has started to look into the human cannabinoid system, and we’re learning more and more about our long and rich history with cannabis.

In other words, the future looks bright! We’ll have a better understanding of the endocannabinoid system in the years to come. That means better CBD products, better medicine, and a better high for recreational cannabis users.

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