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EDUCATION

ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM (ECS)

WHAT IS ECS

This ubiquitous regulatory system helps maintain balanced, healthy cells. Every human possesses an advanced physiological system, known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This central regulatory system makes cannabinoids inside your body (endocannabinoids) that foster cellular balance throughout nearly every biological system in your body.

The first discovery of a cannabinoid receptor was in 1988, in the brain of a rat. Science uncovered the fact that virtually every living animal possesses an ECS, including mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and more.

The human ECS was discovered in 1992 by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and his team in Israel. Despite almost 30 years of scientific inquiry, the ECS is unfortunately absent from clinical schooling and is therefore poorly understood by many. However, change seems inevitable with the recent legalization of hemp cultivation and hemp-based CBD products.

The ECS is widely distributed throughout the entirety of human physiology and is comprised of three main parts. These are:

  • Cannabinoid Receptors (CB1 and CB2)

  • Endogenous cannabinoids (Endocannabinoids) and most notably anandamide and 2-AG

  • Enzymes that break down endocannabinoids (FAAH and MAGL)

Cannabinoid receptors, found on the surface of your cells, are widespread throughout the body and listen to the environment around each cell. They transmit information on current conditions to the cell and thereby jump-start the proper cellular response. Properly functioning cannabinoid receptors have the crucial function of creating homeostasis in your body's cells, which keeps you healthy and keep your body and mind operating effectively.

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CB1 and CB2 receptors are the predominant receptors in the ECS. CB1 receptors are abundant in the brain and central nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors are sparse in the central nervous system but are common throughout the periphery, mostly on immune cells. Cannabinoid receptors are present in almost every organ and organ system throughout the body. They influence activities in the heart, lungs, brain, blood vessels, GI tract, liver, stomach, and more.

It may come as a surprise that your endocannabinoid system is already creating cannabinoids within your body that very closely resemble the cannabinoids that naturally occur in hemp. Endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-AG are made when the body senses an imbalance; these molecules are created on-demand to target issues inside your cells that need fixing specifically.

Cannabinoids, found in hemp (phytocannabinoids), such as CBD, may influence a wide array of bodily functions. These phytocannabinoids interact with the cannabinoid receptors and enhance their activity - while at the same time boosting levels of endocannabinoids.

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Terpenes are volatile compounds found in plants — responsible for their aromas. You have waffled terpenes every time you’ve come across flowers or smelled a fresh fruit. We are pretty much surrounded by terpenes.

There are several hundreds of different terpenes that exist in the world, and over 200 have been discovered in cannabis plants. However, only a few terpenes in industrial hemp are concentrated enough to be considered significant. Brands sometimes add extra terpenes to CBD oil to support those naturally occurring in the plant’s flowers.

The reason why a person would like to have terpenes is the extra health benefits they offer. Scientists have been investigating the properties of terpenes for quite a while now, and have come to the conclusion that specific terpenes could have several therapeutic applications.

Terpenes are popular in aromatherapy thanks to their holistic, natural effects.

The ENTOURAGE EFFECT

The entourage effect was first brought to light in 1998 by Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli scientist and the father of cannabis research. The concept was further popularized by another prominent cannabis Ethan Russo in 2011. Dr. Russo published a detailed report in the British Journal of Pharmacology describing the entourage effect in detail.

Simply put, the entourage effect refers to synergistic effects achieved by cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids found in cannabis.

TERPENES, WHAT ARE THEY?

LET'S TALK EXTRACTION METHODS

CO2- THE UNTOLD TRUTH!

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CO2 extraction is often marketed as ‘solvent-free,’ suggesting it is a cleaner alternative to other extraction methods. However, this is not the case. 

The resulting extract, while full of cannabinoids and terpenes, requires winterization due to the high content of wax and lipids. The most commonly used solvents for this purpose are ethanol, isopropanol, or methanol.

Most companies using CO2 extractions perform winterization through distillation, which is typically performed at very high heat. In this common method the two benefits of CO2 are lost; a solvent is still employed ("solvent free" therefore is not accurate) and the hemp extract is subjected to high heat (the cold benefits of CO2 are lost).

Furthermore, (and more importantly if you are consuming hemp-derived products for therapeutic benefits), this lengthy purification process, which is required to remove the co-extracted constituents (waxes and plant fats) from the extract, can take away from the final cannabinoid and terpenoid profile.

study published by Planta Medica in March of 2018 found that CO2 extraction drastically changed the chemical composition of cannabis. Compared with the dried plant flower, CO2 extracts eliminated many of the subtle flavor and aroma molecules that provide nuance and subtlety to the experiential effects of different cultivars.

However, this is only a benefit if your end goal is to make CBD isolate, as most experts agree that the full range of compounds found in hemp provides a unique therapeutic synergy known as the ‘entourage effect.’ 

ETHANOL EXTRACTION – SOAKING PLANT MATTER IN ALCOHOL, YUCK

Ethanol is a term that describes pure naphtha, isopropyl, or grain alcohol. Ethanol extractions are produced by soaking, rinsing or running ethanol through cured plant matter, then separating the plant matter from the alcohol and either evaporating or purifying the remaining liquid. The resulting mixture is a concentration of the psychoactive and medicinal compounds produced by the cannabis flower.

Ethanol is the intoxicating agent found in alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, and spirits. We know that long-term alcohol misuse can increase the risk of medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and liver damage.

Most experts agree that ethanol does not necessarily provide the best end product. Hydrocarbon extraction does a fine job of drawing out terpenes, while CO2 extraction captures carotenoids and flavonoids. Overall, though, ethanol is widely believed to be a safe method of extraction; but is this really the case?

 

The main thing about using ethanol extraction equipment is that it evaporates almost all of the ethanol. In other words, the end product contains minimal traces of the substance.

 

The FDA has long regarded ethanol as generally safe for human consumption. It's a common food additive used for many processed foods and can be seen on many ingredient lists.

 

So we ask, why would you want to use or injest something that is used in processed foods and or have the possibility of having trace amounts of the solvent (ethanol, alcohol, etc) in your final product. This is counter intuitive in being a holistic and 100% natural plant based supplement. This is why we don’t believe in nor ever use ethanol extraction methods, period.