….in the upcoming year, we’ll be hearing a lot more about the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the major bodily system that the compounds in hemp—including CBD—interact with.
“Improving sleep, digestion, pain, stress—these are all already big businesses, Cannabis has the potential to be a completely novel approach to addressing these key functions,” Chi-Chien Hou, managing director of AFI Capital Partners, a growth equity fund, says of the market’s potential should science continue to come out supporting its efficacy. The Hemp Business Journal estimates that the U.S. hemp industry will grow to a $1.9 billion dollar market by 2022.
So far, hemp oil has demonstrated exciting anti-inflammatory, anti-pain, anti-seizure, and anti-anxiety properties (just to name a few), but the science of the endocannabinoid system explains why hemp oil actually works. Beyond that, it might even explain why so many of us suffer from anxiety, inflammation, and pain in the first place. In fact, much like the microbiome, the endocannabinoid system has been shown to play a role in anything from anxiety and pain to fertility, mood, and even our weight.
Interested yet? Us too. According to Martin A. Lee, the director of Project CBD and the author of Smoke Signals, “The endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating most physiological processes that have been studied: immune function, pain perception, glucose metabolism, blood pressure, bone density, intestinal fortitude, sleep, mood, memory, neuroplasticity, and much more. It’s the reason cannabis is such a versatile medicine that can help so many conditions.”
According to Robert Rountree, M.D., a Functional Medicine pioneer and go-to mbg health expert, “Only ten years ago, no one had heard of the human microbiome. New scientific research has resulted in an explosion in public awareness of how much the human microbiome influences all aspects of human health. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is poised to follow a similar track—from relative obscurity to a position of great significance.”
In the future, assessing the health of this bodily system—something scientists refer to as the “endocannabinoid tone”—could be a way to measure a person’s stress response. This could be big—not only because 31 percent of U.S. adults experience anxiety disorders at some point, but because stress exacerbates so many other common health issues (think: heart disease, GI issues, asthma, and headaches) too. Rountree has gone so far as to refer to the ECS as a “master regulatory system” in the body, and you can bet we’ll be following along as more research comes out about the different ways we can optimize it.