As cannabis-infused beauty reaches a fever pitch, it is more important than ever to address what must still be discovered about the Green Goddess, her bounty of phytonutrients and mood-boosting cannabinoids.

Though humans have interacted with cannabis for thousands of years, we are only starting to uncover the full potential of the plant from a scientific perspective. And the more we learn, the more we understand our role in bridging the gap for the education and advocacy of cannabis and her many constituents.

So why does cannabis have the effect that it does on the body and the mind?

The answer: Our bodies’ Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a network of chemical receptors and compounds found in the brains and nervous systems of all mammals. These receptors regulate mood, pain, appetite, sleep, immunity—even memory and stress responses in the body. Not coincidentally, these psychological processes are everything you generally think of as being altered by cannabis, and that’s because the active ingredients in cannabis directly interact with the ECS.

Our bodies naturally produce what we call endocannabinoids (endo – “internal, within”), which help us achieve homeostasis in the body. But our bodies also respond very well to phytocannabinoids (phyto – “of plants”) from cannabis, like THC and CBD. When you consume these cannabinoids—through vapor, or by ingesting the plant, for example—they eventually reach your brain and nervous system, bind to endocannabinoid receptors and unleash their magic.

The ECS also includes our skin, which contains specialized receptors for cannabinoids—both made by the body and derived from plants. New research suggests that CBD does not directly interact with receptors, but rather mediates the creation of anandamide (the molecule known for giving a “runner’s high”), which then binds to the receptors, activating anti-inflammatory processes. Imbalances of this system may also be responsible for the occurrence of chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, making CBD and its functions of great interest in developing targeted therapies.

The synergy between the cannabis plant and the human body is undeniable, which is understandably why so many seek solace in this leafy treasure. At Herbivore, it is our hope that cannabis will continue to achieve legitimacy in the coming years as more people discover its transcendent healing powers.

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