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Image by Javier Sierra      Boost Your Endocannabinoid System

7 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Endocannabinoid System

We all have an endocannabinoid system, and keeping it working well is key to a balanced body. Here are 7 ways you can naturally support yours… 

Ruby Deevoy

Ever heard of your endocannabinoid system?

Most people haven’t – but we definitely should have.

If you want to regain, or maintain mental and physical balance (who doesn’t?) it’s essential to boost your endocannabinoid system.

boost your endocannabinoid system

Image by Javier Sierra      Boost Your Endocannabinoid System

Since its discovery back in the 90s, we’ve learned that this complex network of receptors is perhaps the most important physiological system (like your immune system, nervous system and digestive system) in the body. It can be found throughout all other systems, in every skin cell, spanning muscles, bones and joints to act as our in-built homeostatic regulator. In layman’s terms, the endocannabinoid system oversees and regulates practically all bodily functions to keep everything balanced and working as it should.

The endocannabinoid system works in synergy with our internally produced endocannabinoids

The two of which we are most familiar with being Anandamide and 2-AG. 

These are chemicals synthesised and released, as needed, to bring the body back into balance. However, many leading cannabinoid experts, such as Ethan Russo, believe that certain lifestyle factors including chronic stress, poor diet and lack of quality sleep can result in what has been coined an ‘endocannabinoid deficiency’ or an ‘endocannabinoid system dysfunction’. And that this can result in just about any health and wellbeing concern you can think of. 

Endocannabinoid Research on migraines, fibromyalgia and IBS

Dr Ethan Russo published a paper in 2016 reviewing 10 years of studies and concluded that an endocannabinoid deficiency may be at the root of a number of unexplained and treatment resistant illnesses, including migraines, fibromyalgia and IBS.

The likelihood that most of us are suffering from an endocannabinoid deficiency seems fairly high, as many of us would probably admit to eating processed food, sitting in front of screens rather than exercising or working outdoors and struggling with sleep issues. Fortunately, there are lots of different ways you can naturally support your endocannbinoid system, boosting endocannabinoid production and something called endocannabinoid tone.

Check your diet to boost your endocannabinoids naturally

A number of foods can not only activate your endocannabinoid system, but can also enhance its activity and improve its overall function.

cannabis health

Image by Brooke Lark    Cannabis Health

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate or cacao offers many wonderful benefits, as well as being delicious! Incredibly, one of those benefits includes providing compounds that inhibit the breakdown of our endocannabinoids, therefore resulting in higher levels of endocannabinoids in the body. There’s even some evidence to suggest chocolate that is at least 70% may even have some direct endocannabinoid activity.

Healthy omega 3:6 ratio

Our endocannabinoids are actually produced from an omega-6 fatty acid, so unsurprisingly appropriate levels are essential for a healthy ECS. However, too much omega-6 can cause problems within the ECS and elsewhere, so this needs to be properly balanced with omega-3. Here are a variety of well balance omega-rich foods to add to your diet:
 
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Oily fish (eg sardines, anchovies)
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts

Body based practices

endocannabinoids

Image by Kike Vega     endocannabinoids

Practice yoga or meditation

Any stress relieving activities can help to boost your endocannabinoid system, particularly the mindful practices yoga, pilates and meditation. In 2020, one small observational study took place over the course of an Advanced 4-day Isha Yoga Retreat and the results found blood endocannabinoids to be immediately increased in addition to significantly decreased depression and anxiety with improving happiness, mindfulness, and psychological well-being.

Try massage, osteopathy or acupuncture

Treatments such as massage (something we covered here in our blog ‘The Secret History of Massage’), osteopathy and acupuncture have been shown to significantly raise endocannabinoids. In one randomised controlled study, Anandamide levels were demonstrated to increase by 168% after an osteopathic adjustment.

Exercise regularly

The runners high used to be put down to an endorphin release, but (while that does play a part) another big contributor to that elated feeling during bouts of intense exercise are our endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are naturally released during high intensity exercise to help the body endure challenges and aid recovery.

Hot & Cold Therapy

what is the endocannabinoid system

Image by Erik Dungan     What is the endocannabinoid system

We’ve talked about the benefits of hot and cold therapies before, but did you know that giving your body a blast of cold in the shower (or better yet, wild swimming!) can result in a surge of endocannabinoids? In fact, this may the the cause of the euphoria many wild swimmers and Wim Hof Method fanatics experience when they take the plunge.

Take CBD oil

endocannabinoid tone

Image by Elsa Olofsson      Endocannabinoid Tone

Taking a few drops of CBD oil is perhaps the most well-known way to support your endocannabinoid system and strengthen endocannabinoid tone. The CBD molecule inhibits the enzyme that breaks endocannabinoids down to support higher levels in the body, while other cannabinoids such as CBG can directly activate endocannabinoid receptors. One terpene (caryophyllene) in that has been used therapeutically throughout the ancient history of cannabis that can also be found in black pepper, clove and rosemary also directly activates endocannabinoid receptors.

This is merely scratching the surface when it comes to ways to take care of your ECS, so we invite you to go and do your own research to discover more about this vital part of the body, and educate others too!

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