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The Endocannabinoid System in Both Humans and Pets

Khalil Holmes

by Khalil Holmes

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Have you ever wondered what it is about CBD that makes it so unique from other plant-based compounds?  Wellness trends have come and gone, but there’s something about the hemp plant that’s attracting the attention of the medical community in an unprecedented way.  The reason why CBD is becoming such a promising compound is because of the body’s endocannabinoid system.  And, science tells us that we are not the only ones that have this fascinating bodily system that processes cannabinoids in a highly useful way.  Our pets also have it, because it’s something that all mammals possess.

Despite the fact that we often hear the endocannabinoid system being discussed, few of us really understand what purpose it serves, and the specifics of its relationship with cannabinoids like CBD.  Well, allow us to discuss this in depth, because understanding how this system works, both in humans and in pets, can help us better finetune our CBD experience in order to reap the most results.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The endocannabinoid system, as we stated earlier, is present in all mammals, and it was only really discovered in the 1990s.  Back then, scientists were researching cannabis in an effort to figure out why it produces such unique effects on humans.  Since that discovery, many more studies have been done on this fascinating system, and those studies are now ramping up as the hemp plant has entered the cultural spotlight.


The endocannabinoid system, in short, plays a large role in the maintenance of homeostasis.  Homeostasis refers to a state in which every bodily process is functioning at its highest level.  In order for homeostasis to occur, our bodily systems need to be properly regulated.

Examples of bodily processes that the endocannabinoid system can influence are:

  • Mood
  • Inflammation
  • Function of the digestive tract
  • Function of the immune system

In order for the endocannabinoid system to have such an influence, however, it requires cannabinoids.  Now, what’s really interesting is that science tells us that the endocannabinoid system is capable of producing its own cannabinoids.  However, for reasons that remain unclear, few of us are capable of producing enough cannabinoids in order to give the endocannabinoid system what it needs to fulfill its job.


Throughout the body, there are cannabinoid receptors.  These receptors exist in the skin, the intestines, the brain, major organs and more.  As the name implies, their job is to receive cannabinoids, because when they do, chemical reactions occur that force their corresponding bodily processes into regulation.  Now, if we are naturally deficient in cannabinoids, we can rely on phytocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are plant-based in origin.


Many people are unaware of the fact that there are several plants that have cannabinoids within their chemical composition.  However, the only plant family that has a high enough volume and variety of cannabinoids to truly work with the endocannabinoid system is cannabis.  The hemp plant is a member of the cannabis family that’s different from marijuana in that it has far less THC, meaning that it’s not psychoactive.  And, the hemp plant’s leading compound is – you guessed it – CBD.


However, CBD isn’t the only cannabinoid in hemp.  In fact, the hemp plant can contain over 100 unique cannabinoids.  Each cannabinoid has its own properties that it can offer to the endocannabinoid system.  Other cannabinoids, like CBC, CBN and CBG are attracting more and more attention as scientists take a closer look at what they are capable of.


Now, remember that humans are not the only ones who process cannabinoids in this way.  Because this system is found in every mammal, our pets, such as cats and dogs, are just as capable of reaping the unique effects that occur when these cannabinoids interact with cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body.

How is the Endocannabinoid System Different in Humans and Pets?

Amazingly, it seems that there’s very little difference between the endocannabinoid system in humans and in other mammals in terms of how it functions overall.  But, one major difference is the size.  We know that the amount of cannabinoids to consume daily to have the largest impact on the endocannabinoid system is largely determined by body weight.  So, it would make sense that smaller mammals like cats and small dogs should receive fewer cannabinoids per dose than what we consume as part of our CBD routine.  Larger mammals such as horses would naturally prefer higher cannabinoid levels per dose.


Therefore, when giving CBD to your pet, taking their breed/body weight into account in order to select that proper milligram strength is crucial.  Manufacturers do the hard work for us by producing formulas that are specifically intended for a particular breed/body weight range.  For instance, numerous brands offer a range of tinctures with different concentrations, each clearly stating the range that it’s intended for.

Using Our Knowledge of the Endocannabinoid System to Get the Most Out of the Hemp Plant

Now, knowing what we do about the endocannabinoid system, we can make better decisions when shopping for hemp products.  One thing to be aware of is the synergistic nature of the compounds in hemp.  Like we said, the hemp plant contains a wide variety of cannabinoids, and each one can bring something unique to the table due to its individual properties.  Further, other compounds in hemp may boost the potency and bioavailability of these cannabinoids.


That’s why we believe that full spectrum hemp products are ideal for those who are the most interested in giving the endocannabinoid system what it wants to perform at its highest level.  Full spectrum hemp is a type of extract that contains the complete variety of compounds native to the plant.  This allows those synergistic properties to be in full effect, which is known as the entourage effect.  This gives you the best chance of feeding the endocannabinoid system in a way that can increase its function in maintaining homeostasis within the body.


Further, it’s important to get the milligram strength right, as the potency level determines how much we are actually giving our endocannabinoid system per dose.  So, consider body weight plus the severity of certain issues when choosing the proper strength.

Final Thoughts

The endocannabinoid system that exists in all mammals is nothing short of fascinating, as it seems to have a large influence on our overall well-being.  There’s no doubt that the cannabinoids in the hemp plant, such as CBD, provide the endocannabinoid system with what it needs in order to fulfill its function.  Just bear in mind that our pets’ endocannabinoid systems prefer lower strengths of CBD, as this will help you start them on a proper hemp routine.

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