The Runner’s High and Cannabinoids

What is the runner’s high?

Many of us are familiar with the concept of the “runner’s high”. A natural rush of euphoria which occurs in some individuals when the body is pushed to its physical limits, this runner’s high is, well, highly sought after. Often also described as a second wind, the term is defined as “an exercise-induced altered state of consciousness long-appreciated by endurance athletes… described subjectively as pure happiness, elation, a feeling of unity with one’s self/nature, endless peacefulness, inner harmony, boundless energy, and a reduction in pain sensation.”1 While the existence of this phenomenon has been known for decades, the science surrounding what causes it has been incredibly limited. It’s only recently that scientists have begun to understand it – and much of it remains a mystery.

The confusion surrounding the runner’s high is due in part to the fact that the experience doesn’t seem consistent; described as “ephemeral”, certain runners may never encounter this sensation. And others won’t be able to access it each time they exercise, even if it’s something they’ve felt before. Though much of the conversation surrounding this effect is already speculative, newer research suggests that it may be tied to something even less thoroughly understood: the endocannabinoid system.1

Endogenous opioids or cannabinoids?

Exercise physiologists first thought that the cause of the runner’s high was tied to a boost in epinephrine (adrenaline). With the discovery of the opioid receptor network and endogenous opioids (opioid-like chemicals produced naturally in the body) in the late 1950s and early 60s, the theory was switched around a bit to include this new understanding: it was thought that this effect was “a direct consequence of alterations in endogenous opioid release.”1 For decades, this was the operating hypothesis. However, with the discovery of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in the 1990s and the subsequent discovery of the body’s first endogenous (naturally-occurring) cannabinoid Anandamide in 1992, the theory slowly began to take on a new shape once more. Anandamide, named using the Sanskrit root word for “bliss”, can boost happiness, assist with increasing memory, appetite, & motivation, increase neurogenesis, and more.

anandamide moleculeWhile the body’s own endocannabinoids were discovered in the 1990s, it took quite a bit of additional time before it began to be thought that Anandamide could play a role in activating the euphoria of the runner’s high. The new theory arose when it was discovered that endorphin and endogenous opioid molecules are large and therefore cannot cross the blood-brain barrier – but Anandamide can.2 As Anandamide is often found in high concentrations in the brain after intense exercise, the natural conclusion was that Anandamide may be the compound primarily responsible for helping elicit the runner’s high.

Although this hypothesis was first expressed in the late 1990s, it wasn’t really explored in much detail until 2015, when German scientists began to experiment with the theory in mice. Anandamide levels in the blood increased significantly in a group of mice that ran on a wheel for five hours when compared with a control group of sedentary mice. Additionally, the mice that were part of the running group displayed far less anxiety and a higher tolerance for pain than those in the control group.2 Studies have also been done on humans, however, further research is still needed.1

CBD and Anandamide

So what does any of this have to do with CBD? According to a study published in 2012, Cannabidiol (CBD) helps to inhibit the degradation of Anandamide in the body,3 meaning that the effects felt from this endocannabinoid can last for a longer period of time if CBD is in someone’s system. While many people enjoy using CBD products after exercise, this information makes it apparent that the benefits can likely be extended if CBD is used before exercise, as well. Since CBD can also support pain management, stress relief, and endurance – all without the intoxicating high experienced with THC use – it only makes sense to incorporate CBD products into your workout routine. See our blog post on CBD for athletic performance here!

 

woman holding french bulldog

CBD for pets

Is CBD right for your pet?

When it comes to taking care of the non-human family members millions of Americans love, there are several important factors to consider. We want to ensure that we do our best to provide a beneficial diet, the best veterinary care possible, and a healthy lifestyle – and adding new supplements to our animals’ routines is a critically important decision when it comes to maintaining the quality of life we want to give them. And as the CBD (Cannabidiol) craze continues to sweep the nation, many people are curious to know if CBD can help their pets as much as it has helped them.

The ECS

One of the most fascinating developments related to cannabis was the discovery of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) by researchers in the early 1990s. While there is still research being conducted into all of the roles the ECS plays in the body, the most relevant takeaway in this situation is that every animal (vertebrates and invertebrates alike) has an ECS. The first-known animals to express cannabinoid receptors were the sea squirts, which evolved over 600 million years ago!

This system in the body helps with the regulation of functions such as sleep, appetite, the immune system, and more – and its incredible discovery means that every animal has the innate capability to regulate the effects of cannabinoids, whether they are the body’s own natural endocannabinoids (2-AG and Anandamide) or phytocannabinoids from cannabis, such as CBD or THC. Knowing that our pets are naturally equipped with cannabinoid receptors, just like us, has many people turning to CBD for the incredible potential benefits that these products may provide for their pets!

Common reasons people give CBD to their pets include: reducing anxiousness, helping with pain relief, easing general discomfort, promoting a healthier appetite, encouraging better sleep cycles, and more. And with no more than 0.3% THC allowable in hemp-derived products, CBD for pets is specifically formulated to be non-intoxicating.

Making an informed choice

So how does one go about choosing the best CBD product(s) for their pet? There are a few things to consider, such as method of consumption, desired effect, desired duration of effect, and more. Just for example, a serving of a liquid CBD tincture will kick in faster than an edible treat, and will have a slightly shorter duration of effects, as well. Conversely, the effects of a CBD-infused edible treat will take longer to kick in, but will also last a bit longer. Dosages and onset time will vary depending on the weight of the animal in question, as well as their metabolism. The most common dosage guideline for pets is 1mg of CBD per 5lbs of weight; however, there is no way to guarantee this dosage amount will work for every animal. Some may need more, and others less – just like people, every animal will have their own unique tolerance and absorption rates for CBD. You can check out the two different potencies of the Fairwinds Companion tincture by clicking here.

All of the factors mentioned above are relevant when it comes to human consumption, too! The difference here is that as humans, we have the ability to assess, examine, and comprehend our own needs to understand the effects of different products on ourselves – and as our animal companions don’t have that same capability to share with us, these factors are of crucial importance when it comes to selecting what CBD product to give to your pet. When giving CBD to your pets, it’s imperative to start small. You can always administer more tincture, but it doesn’t work the opposite way. As it may take up to two hours for your pet to feel the effects of CBD, it’s always recommended to wait for at least two hours before potentially administering any more.

Still have more questions about CBD and your pet? Feel free to contact us, and we’ll be happy to help.

*The FDA has not approved these statements. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.

CBD and Athletic Performance

Optimal performance is all about finding balance – cannabinoids can help achieve that. Here’s how!

1: Improved focus, endurance, and power output

Cannabinoids (especially CBD) can help to increase brain and nervous system function – thereby increasing athletic performance! CBD can also assist with maintaining the euphoria experienced frequently after strenuous workouts; CBD helps to slow the degradation of Anandamide, one of the body’s two known endocannabinoids (naturally-occurring cannabinoids) and the compound now thought to be responsible for eliciting the runner’s high.

2: Shortened recovery time

CBD is clinically proven to not only subdue the receptors in our nervous system that cause us to notice and feel pain, but to reduce the presence and production of enzymes called prostaglandins which cause inflammation – thereby reducing further pain. Say goodbye to prolonged muscle soreness!

3: Enhanced breathing capability

Cannabinoids are proven bronchodilators. This means that, despite what may be popular belief, cannabis products can actually help to increase airflow to the lungs and can decrease resistance in the airways.

4: Reduced need for NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen

Most NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) inhibit protein synthesis, but cannabinoids do not. Because CBD reduces inflammation instead of simply dulling pain signals, it can be a much safer and more effective choice for athletes suffering from inflammation-related pain. Additionally, NSAID pain relievers can cause various health problems with extended use, including liver toxicity, stomach ulcers, and more; these issues can be exacerbated in endurance athletes. CBD use has not been shown to cause any of these same problems – just one more reason it may be a healthier and more effective alternative. Some athletes have actually been able to completely replace NSAID use by taking CBD products!

5: Improved homeostasis

One of the primary functions of the ECS (endocannabinoid system, a natural system found in every vertebrate and invertebrate) is maintaining balance and homeostasis in the body. In addition to this, the ECS helps to regulate functions such as digestion, sleep, memory, and more. CBD can help promote balance; many people who do not consume any type of cannabis products may have endocannabinoid deficiencies.

While cannabinoids have not shown clinically-proven effects that could cause them to be considered as performance-enhancing drugs, their legality in competitive sports use is still frequently dependent on an individual sport or coach. However, due to its lack of intoxicating effects and proven inability to be considered performance-enhancing, CBD was taken off of the WADA (World Anti-Doping Association) list of prohibited substances in 2018! This means that all athletes should be able to use this cannabinoid prior to and after performance in competitive sporting events, in addition to casual workouts and practices. So what are you waiting for? Try adding CBD to your workout routine to see if it helps your athletic performance as much as it has helped countless others.

*These statements have not been approved by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.

Difference between hemp & cannabis

What’s the difference?

As a CBD brand based out of the Pacific Northwest (where recreational cannabis consumption is legal and dispensary storefronts can be found as easily as coffee shops), one of the questions we are asked most frequently is, “What’s the difference between hemp and cannabis?”. The short answer: it’s really just semantics.

In an industry like ours, transparency and honesty are so important. While there is no shortage of brands claiming that their CBD products are “not from cannabis” this is, unfortunately, a misleading statement. There is no hemp plant that is not a member of the cannabis family. So, if all CBD products are in fact derived from cannabis just like their high-THC counterparts, why are they given different names?

When it comes to the cannabis plant genus, there are three known species:

  1. Cannabis Sativa
  2. Cannabis Indica
  3. Cannabis Ruderalis

Each of these subspecies carries its own genetic makeup, produces its flowers in different ways, and is naturally made up of different cannabinoid concentrations, terpenes, and more. And while Indica and Sativa are words used commonly when it comes to discussing the effect profiles of different cannabis chemovars (or strains), the difference between them lies more in the genetic makeup of the plants themselves. There’s plenty of great information available about each of these unique species, so let’s break this down a little bit further…

1 – Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis Sativa plants tend to grow wild in warmer, more tropical climates – such as Jamaica, Central America, etc – and generally require a longer time to mature before they are ready to be harvested. Sativa plants will have narrow, thin fan leaves and will usually grow much taller/lankier than their Indica cousins. Generally speaking, cultivars harvested from this species of plant will produce terpenes (flavonoids; the essential oils of cannabis) with more euphoric, uplifting effects – hence why people will ask for “Sativas” when shopping for cannabis that provides more daytime-oriented or energizing effects.

2 – Cannabis Indica

    Cannabis Indica plants are just about the polar opposite of their Sativa cousins when it comes to appearance, and are not always similar in effect, either. Indica plants tend towards wild growth in colder climates – the mountain ranges of India and Nepal are known for producing some of the finest cannabis in the world not grown by human hands – and grow bushier, shorter, and more stout than Sativas. Usually, Cannabis Indica cultivars will produce terpenes that lean towards a more calming, sedative effect – this is why shoppers will frequently ask for “Indicas” when seeking cannabis that may be geared more towards end-of-day use.

3 – Cannabis Ruderalis

    Cannabis Ruderalis, more commonly referred to as the hemp plant, is the third and final member of the cannabis plant family. Ruderalis plants grow natively in Central/Eastern Europe and parts of Russia, and were used originally for their fiber production. These hardy, fibrous plants rarely grow larger than two feet tall in the wild; however, due in part to trading along the Silk Road and genetic drift, you can find taller, lankier versions of this species growing in mountainous regions to which they aren’t originally native! While there has been some debate over whether Ruderalis qualifies as its own species or is a member of the Sativa species, the fact that Ruderalis plants naturally produce THC in such minimal quantities (a plant must produce 0.3% THC or less to qualify as hemp or Ruderalis) has helped to secure its position as a separate species.

If all CBD products come from cannabis plants, then where does the term “hemp” originate from? Why are these products treated and regulated with such drastic differences if they essentially come from the same place?

All genetic differences and species variation aside, a cannabis plant only qualifies as “hemp” if it produces less than 0.3% THC by volume. This quantity concentration of THC is completely arbitrary – in the 1970s, Canadian scientist and researcher Ernest Small published a book called The Species Problem With Cannabis where he discussed the fact that there is no real, definitive cannabinoid concentration at which to separate the “cannabis” plant from the “hemp” plant. It was decided that a potency of 0.3% THC (or less) by weight equating to “hemp” would work as a temporary solution – yet this randomly-decided number has held for the past 4, nearing 5, decades. And despite the ever-growing appreciation for and acceptance of CBD products, many people are still not at all comfortable consuming products with the word “cannabis” in the name for fear of getting high.

 

Coming from the Washington retail cannabis market, another question we often receive is, “Is this product made using cannabis? I don’t want to get high”. While we do create many completely THC-free products, we also fully understand and appreciate the value of the entourage effect – which very much includes at least trace quantities of THC (though never more than 0.3% total). From our experience as well as from clinically-conducted research, there is nothing comparable to the power of the full plant. We believe that people deserve and can have it all: the complete truth about the science and chemistry behind their products, as well as the confidence that something they try has the potential to help them, without leaving them feeling intoxicated.

What is CBD?

What is CBD? 

CBD has been soaring in popularity across the US and the rest of the globe lately. But just what exactly is CBD? Short for Cannabidiol, CBD is one of around a hundred identified chemical compounds, called phytocannabinoids, produced by the cannabis (hemp) plant. Its surge in popularity is due to its wealth of potential benefits; it’s becoming commonplace for people to incorporate CBD products into their daily routines for any number of reasons. In fact, according to a Gallup poll conducted in 2019, over 29 million American adults are regularly consuming at least one CBD product! Celebrated for its capability to assist its consumers with a variety of ailments without sacrificing functionality or mental clarity, CBD is quickly solidifying its well-deserved place near the top of the ever-growing mountain of wellness products.

How does CBD work?  

CBD affects its users by interacting with cannabinoid receptors; which receptors it connects with is dependent on which type of product or method of consumption is used. There are two types of known cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, each of which are located in different areas of the body and which each perform their own unique tasks. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the brain throughout the CNS (Central Nervous System); CB2 receptors can be found in small quantities in the brain as well as the pancreas and bones, but are more commonly found throughout the dermis and in immune cells.

Who can benefit from CBD? Why are these products so popular?

Just about anyone! One of the most appealing things about CBD as a supplement or wellness product is that it is not likely to interfere with most people’s functionality or clear-headedness throughout the day, making it an easy (for many, seamless) addition into a health and wellness routine. People of all ages and from all walks of life have found CBD to be helpful for a plethora of needs.

How do CBD and THC interact with each other? 

There are quite a few differences between these two primary cannabinoids. THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main component responsible for providing the sensation of being “high” that is commonly associated with cannabis use. However, THC also possesses its own myriad potential health benefits in addition to providing the euphoric sensation many are familiar with. While CBD is frequently touted as non-psychoactive, that’s not entirely correct. Since it does interact with receptors in the brain and can provide a general sense of well-being, it’s more accurate to refer to CBD as non-intoxicating instead. These two compounds play very well in tandem with each other; in fact, one cannabinoid will perform at its best when another is present in at least small quantities! This is due to something referred to as the Entourage Effect.

What is the ECS, and what does it do?

The ECS (Endocannabinoid System) is responsible for producing and regulating the body’s own naturally-occurring cannabinoids. These are known as endocannabinoids! There are two known ECs: 2-AG and Anandamide. The ECS is in charge of regulating phytocannabinoids (such as THC and/or CBD) introduced to the bloodstream via the consumption of cannabis products. A healthy, well-functioning ECS is crucial when it comes to maintaining homeostasis in the body! The ECS is responsible for helping to control and regulate several bodily functions, including but not limited to hunger, digestion, sleep, motor control, body temperature, and immune function.

What is the difference between phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids?

Endocannabinoids are chemical compounds (such as 2-AG and Anandamide) that are produced naturally in the body. Phytocannabinoids, on the other hand, are plant-based compounds (such as THC, CBD, CBG, and more). These cannabinoids are regulated by the ECS and other internal systems once introduced to the body.

What is the difference between hemp and cannabis/marijuana?

There isn’t much of one! All cannabis compounds come from the same family of plants; there are different species in this small family which produce different cannabinoids in different quantities, but any brand that lauds their CBD products as “not containing cannabis” or “not derived from cannabis” is merely trying to avoid the potential fear or negative stigma associated with the words “cannabis” or “marijuana”. All CBD is sourced from the different species of cannabis (Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruteralis); there are no other natural means to the end of accessing that cannabinoid. The biggest difference in how these products are classified is drawn from their THC concentration; anything classified as “hemp-derived” must contain 0.3% THC potency or less! For more info on this, check out our difference between hemp and cannabis blog.

How can someone consume CBD products?

Common methods of health-conscious consumption include:

  • Oral (chewable edibles, drinks, capsules, etc)
  • Sublingual (tinctures, mints, hard candies, etc)
  • Topical (creams, gels, etc)

 

*These statements have not been approved by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.