Adapting to stress and anxiety with help from the endocannabinoid system

Apr 27th, 2022

The more easily the body can adapt to environmental, metabolic, physical, and psychological stress, the better it can reduce and undo damage. Every day, we manage a huge range of physical and emotional stressors in our lives. While this response is a natural adaptive process, exposure to these stressors disrupts the body’s ability to adapt and recover, and can result in the development of depression and anxiety that affect tens of millions of Americans each year.

Today, a large number of studies support the idea that the endocannabinoid system—particularly the endocannabinoid molecule the system produces called anandamide and its CB1 receptors—helps regulate mood and anxiety through adaptogenic, regulatory interactions. As the major signaling system striving for balance and equilibrium in the body, the endocannabinoid system helps us adapt to various day to day stressors and assists in recovery in all organ systems.

In addition, the endocannabinoid system helps to regulate the most important organ systems involved in stress called the HPA pathway (the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands). The HPA regulates body temperature, circadian rhythm, metabolism, fluid regulation, and other essential functions. Disrupted communication between these systems can result in excess inflammation, anxiety, and fatigue.

When our cells have a sufficient supply of endocannabinoids, our bodies can restore homeostasis more easily. This coordination diminishes the effects of stress, and aids recovery in the gut, brain and immune system which are all sensitive to anxiety.

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