Have you been feeling down recently? Maybe more tired, sore, or unmotivated than usual? Got any brain fog?
If so…your endocannabinoid system could probably use a boost.
It’s true. And while at this point we’d normally recommend cannabis, the reality is that there are other ways to get your ECS back to a healthy baseline. And we think these lifestyle tools and biohacks deserve a closer look.
- What Is the Endocannabinoid System?
- Cannabis vs. Endocannabinoids
- How to Boost Your Endocannabinoid System
What Is the Endocannabinoid System?
Think of the endocannabinoid system as the thing that holds all the other things in your body together. Not literally, of course — that would be fascia — but figuratively, biochemically.
Your endocannabinoid system helps every other system (immune, cardiovascular, endocrine, et cetera) function as one.
And though it was only fully discovered in 1993 and 1994, (fairly recently, as far as scientific discoveries go), the ECS has quickly attracted the attention of health experts. Professor Vincenzo Di Marzo explained back in 1998 that “relax, eat, sleep, forget and protect” are just some of the important ‘messages’ the system sends to other parts of the body.
Dr. Bob Melamede takes this regulatory concept a step further. “…You have to understand that all humans, from the time of conception until the time of death, everything in their body is homeostatically regulated by the endocannabinoid system,” he says in an eye-opening interview.
Cannabis vs. Endocannabinoids
Cannabinoids, by definition, are any substances that directly impact the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids don’t actually have to come from cannabis; one cannabinoid, beta-caryophyllene, can be found in black pepper and cloves.
And then there’s a whole class of cannabinoids that tend to get overlooked, at least compared to CBD and THC: the endocannabinoids.
These are the compounds that really make the entire system tick. In fact, many of cannabis’s most impressive effects come not from its cannabinoid content, but by the effect, it has on endocannabinoid levels.
* Endocannabinoids can be called eCB’s for short, so don’t be surprised if you see the terms used interchangeably from here on out!
How to Boost Your Endocannabinoid System
There are a few major ways to boost your endocannabinoid system. You can aim to get your body producing more endocannabinoids, as we explained earlier; you can try helping your endocannabinoid receptors become more sensitive; you can even try to prevent existing endocannabinoids from prematurely breaking down.
But enough of all the technical stuff — your body can do all that without you having to know about it, after all! Here’s how you can bring theory to practice and enjoy the benefits of higher endocannabinoid levels for yourself:
Did you know exercise is a form of stress? Technically, it’s called eustress, or good stress. When done right, exercise stresses one’s muscular and nervous systems just enough to make them fitter and stronger.
Why’s this so important?
We’ll answer with another question: did you know that cannabinoids of all sorts exist to help deal with stress? It’s true. Endocannabinoid levels actually rise in response to exercise as part of a healthy stress response. When eCB’s produced fast enough, they can make the exercise-ee feel really good.
Long story short: endocannabinoids help your body adapt to exercise…and provide a neurochemical cocktail of bliss molecules as a reward for doing so. If that’s not an example of positive reinforcement, we’re not sure what is! So consider an exercise routine, if you haven’t already. Your endocannabinoid system will thank you.
Most of the nutrients we eat are made out of smaller building blocks. Proteins are made of amino acids, carbs are made out of glucose, and so on. Fats and oils? They’re made of essential and nonessential fatty acids.
You probably knew all this — but we’ll bet you didn’t know why certain fatty acids are so essential. It’s because they themselves are the building blocks we use to create endocannabinoids. That is why omega-3’s are so essential. It’s also a big part of why they’re so anti-inflammatory. Omega 3’s are brain food because they help create substances that keep our minds in the balance!
“Ask any doctor in the country: are omega-3 fatty acids good for you? They’ll all say yes. Ask them why, and they won’t know that it’s because you make endocannabinoids out of [omega-3 fatty acids]. They’re all telling you to basically increase your endocannabinoid activity, but they don’t know it.”
– Dr. Bob Melamede to Sativa Magazine
Talk about dissonance, right? If you want to produce more eCB’s and likely feel happier in the process, consider eating some seafood every now and then. Foods like cacao and herbs like echinacea may also provide a boost to endocannabinoid levels.
Sleep deprivation has been correlated with many of the same symptoms as endocannabinoid deficiency: inflammation, weight gain, insulin resistance, and more. Conversely, good sleep patterns can positively impact your weight, energy, and mood. Sleep allows us to literally recharge our batteries and regain our strength.
Here’s another truth bomb: your endocannabinoid system probably wants you to sleep more. Maybe it’s no wonder that cannabis can make you sleepy? And after you’ve had a good night of sleep, your ECS can even help you wake up in the morning by creating an influx of new cannabinoids. Smoke well, sleep well, wake well, repeat. Just don’t forget the sleep part — it’s probably most important!
Last, but definitely not least, yoga can improve eCB levels so noticeably that some studies call it a cannabimimetic. This may explain some of its many health benefits, which include reduced inflammation, increased mobility, improved mood, and much more.
Acupuncture also seems to boost eCB’s, which may explain why people can walk away from a (slightly painful?) session and still feel euphoric. Many other traditional practices seem to be good for our endocannabinoid systems, too. The ancients knew what they were doing!
We’re still advocates for cannabis, of course — so feel free to combine any or all of the above concepts with a favourite cannabis product or two. We just don’t want you to think cannabis is the only piece of the wellness puzzle Hopefully this article gave you a glimpse into just how interrelated everything really is.