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The endocannabinoid (EC) system helps the body manage anxiety, inflammation, and other physiological responses to different forms of stress. Essential oils are also incredibly popular, so you might find yourself wondering if using…

Endocannabinoids Explained

In this article, we review the endocannabinoid system and the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), and Beta-caryophyllene (BCP).

The endocannabinoid system

The endocannabinoid (EC) system helps the body manage anxiety, inflammation, and other physiological responses to different forms of stress. During strenuous exercise, stress, and other related stimuli, the body produces compounds called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids (ECs) are signaling molecules that trigger the activation of the EC system when they are detected by cannabinoid receptors.

Cannabinoid receptors (CRs) not only detect the presence of ECs, but they are also affected by molecules from outside sources that chemically resemble endocannabinoids. The term cannabinoid refers to any compound, produced by the body or from an outside source, that triggers the EC system by activating CRs. Anandamide is an EC compound produced in the body. Anandamide activates two types of CRs, cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2).

A “runner’s high” is a perfect example of the EC system at work. After a long period of strenuous exercise, the body begins to produce anandamide in order to activate CRs and turn on the EC system. The “runner’s high” has two components: slight euphoria, and soothing of the discomfort in the muscles and joints. These two outcomes are linked with two distinct structures: the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are mainly found in the brain and central nervous system, and are linked with pleasure and reward pathways. CB1 receptor activation leads to feelings of euphoria. CB2 receptors are found in the rest of the body, like the muscles, skin, and vital organs. They are mainly found on the surface of white blood cells, and their activation affects the regulation of inflammation chemicals called cytokines.

THC & CBD

THC is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. According to GC/MS analyses conducted by doTERRA’s analytical chemists, it is found in high concentrations in many brands of cannabis oil, and it can also be found in hemp and CBD oil in more than just trace amounts. THC is known to activate both CB1 and CB2 receptors. It is generally accepted as a potent drug with powerful psychoactive properties.

CBD, another compound found in high quantities in marijuana, CBD oil, and hemp oil, does in fact interact directly with CB1 and CB2, but the interaction is so weak as to be negligible. 2 CBD actually exerts its effects on the EC system by a different mechanism than most cannabinoids.

Research shows that CBD acts on the enzyme FAAH, which breaks down anandamide. CBD actually slows down the enzyme’s activity, which leads to increased levels of anandamide in the body. 1 The reason why this is significant is because anandamide interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors. Higher levels of anandamide would result in increased feelings of euphoria due to increased activation of CB1 receptors, as well as soothing of the tissues due to activation of CB2.

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CBD, by increasing levels of anandamide, has similar pharmacological effects as THC in that it affects the same two cannabinoid receptors, however the magnitude of the effect is much smaller compared with THC. CBD is generally considered non-hallucinogenic.

BCP

Soothing the tissues without triggering any sort of psychoactive response can be accomplished by using a compound with selective interaction with the CB2 receptor. Beta-caryophyllene (BCP) is a sesquiterpene compound found in hundreds of different plant species, and it has recently been recognized for its unique ability to interact with CB2 but not CB1 receptors. 3 Thus the alleged benefits of CBD or THC can be obtained without the psychoactive effects by using a product containing BCP. doTERRA’s new Copaiba essential oil has the highest BCP content of any oil, around 55% as confirmed by GC/MS analysis of doTERRA’s own Copaiba oil.

There is ample evidence pointing to the benefits of oral supplementation of beta-caryophyllene, but like CBD and hemp oil, further research in the form of human clinical trials is required. More promising are the low doses at which some of these studies have been conducted. These dosages suggest that as little as 1-2 drops of Copaiba oil or 3-4 drops of Black Pepper oil may provide noticeable results in humans. At this time, the systemic soothing properties of beta-caryophyllene have potential benefit as treatment for a wide range of health issues.* Still unexplored are the effects of CB2 receptor activation on human diseases for which there are few experimental models—such as learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders—that many claim can benefit from using cannabis.

Conclusion

To summarize, there are many ways to modulate the body’s cannabinoid system. Products containing CBD, THC, and BCP all affect the endocannabinoid system. We acknowledge that health care professionals may recommend different products containing different kinds of cannabinoid compounds for different health issues. However, at doTERRA we believe that BCP-containing products are the most effective for healthy individuals seeking a product that they can use for self-care.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Can you mix CBD and essential oils?

How to determine if it is safe to mix CBD and essential oils.

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Anna Efetova/Getty Images

Over the last few years, more and more people have been turning to cannabidiol — aka CBD — as a part of their health and wellness routine, and it’s easy to see why. Research shows that CBD offers an impressive list of potential health benefits. It can help address issues like pain, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders, which makes it easy to understand why CBD products are becoming so popular across the United States.

Essential oils are also incredibly popular — with essential oil remedies being shared across the internet — so you might find yourself wondering if you can combine these products, whether or not using CBD and essential oils is safe, and how to try it out for yourself.

What is CBD? How does it work?

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is one of the main active ingredients found in the cannabis plant. Unlike cannabis, which contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is non-psychoactive — meaning it doesn’t cause the “high” feeling typically associated with cannabis use. Plus, CBD is relatively well-tolerated by most people and it has very few side effects, meaning it’s pretty low risk and isn’t associated with potential abuse.

As far as how it works? Researchers are still figuring that out.

“We are still learning how exactly CBD works. It appears CBD interacts with a wide variety of systems in your body, such as your serotonin system,” explains Dr. Jeff Chen, founder of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative and CEO and CoFounder of Radicle Science. “CBD also interacts with your endocannabinoid system, which is spread throughout your entire body. Whereas THC exerts its effects by directly binding to your cannabinoid receptors, CBD doesn’t bind to cannabinoid receptors, but instead appears to slow the breakdown of the endocannabinoids your own body naturally produces.”

Translation? While we don’t know how CBD works with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and cannabinoid receptors, we do know that the ECS plays a role in bodily functions like sleep, memory, and mood — as well as maintaining our bodies’ homeostasis, AKA the balance and stability of our bodies’ systems.

From there, many believe that CBD works by helping your body return to that state of homeostasis — so if your body needs sleep, CBD might help with that. If you need to boost your energy, it might help with that too. And because cannabinoid receptors within the ECS are located throughout your body, although there’s a higher concentration of these receptors in your brain, that’s why CBD offers such a wide range of potential benefits.

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What about essential oils? Do they work?

Essential oils have been used throughout human history, but before we dive into the science, it’s important to highlight that not all essential oils are safe to consume orally and others can cause damage if they’re applied directly to your skin. Unlike CBD oil, different essential oils vary wildly — and some carry severe health risks if used incorrectly — so you’ll want to do extensive research prior to combining these and you’ll want to consult your primary care doctor.

That being said, when it comes to using essential oils (and deciding whether or not they work), the answer is “it depends.” Different oils offer different benefits, and not all essential oils have been extensively studied. You’ll want to speak with a medical expert before using any essential oils to make sure you’re using them safely.

Is it safe to mix CBD and essential oils?

Because CBD and essential oils use in humans haven’t been studied extensively, it’s hard to give a clear answer on whether or not it’s safe to mix the two. Especially when you’re looking at something like essential oils — where some are considered harmless for both oral and topical use while others can be poisonous — it’s important to act with an abundance of caution.

“Most herbalists and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners usually recommend using multiple botanicals to treat a condition. Rarely, do they ever recommend a single herb,” explains Dr. Felecia Dawson, a physician and cannabis advocate.” Thus, adding additional terpenes via essential oils may give better results. I would recommend working with someone knowledgeable about CBD and essential oils to stay safe, save money and time.

So even though CBD itself might be relatively low risk — and there might be some benefits from mixing CBD and essential oils — the safety of essential oils varies wildly on the specific oil you’re using and the method of delivery. If you’re not sure about mixing the two then it might be worth keeping these two habits separate, or speaking with a medical professional, at least until we know more.

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