Woman in a forest smiling thanks to a healthy endocannabinoid system

The Endocannabinoid System Explained: How It Works And Why You Should Care

If you’ve done any research on cannabis science, you’ll have come across the phrase “endocannabinoid system” before. Understanding how this complex body system works is indeed key to getting why cannabinoids affect us the way that they do. 


Here’s a brief overview of how the human endocannabinoid system works:


The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a body-wide system that regulates important body functions such as pain management, appetite, and stress response (we’ll get more into the specifics in the second part of this article.)


This system is made up of a vast network of receptors called CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are found all over the human brain and body. When either endocannabinoids or phytocannabinoids bind with these receptors, it affects the function of the ECS.


When the ECS works like it’s supposed to, it keeps the body in a state known as “homeostasis”. When there are any unbalances in the system, various symptoms show up. This is why cannabinoids can be so instrumental in maintaining a sense of wellness.


a diagram of endocannabinoid receptors in the body and what functions they affect

What Does The Endocannabinoid System Do?

The human endocannabinoid system certainly does a lot. It has wide-ranging repercussions not just on physical health, but also on many aspects of mental health. Le’s take a closer look at how the endocannabinoid system affects you:

Pain Management

The ECS is involved in regulating how your body perceives pain. This is why cannabinoids that affect the endocannabinoid system can completely change our body’s pain response—making them particularly useful for people with chronic pain conditions. 


The human endocannabinoid system helps to maintain homeostasis in appetite levels. In essence, this means keeping you neither too hungry nor too satiated throughout the day. Various phytocannabinoids can help to adjust this function of the ECS, creating greater feelings of hunger or satiation. 

Stress Response

Your endocannabinoid system maintains your stress response normal—that is to say, low when there is no danger, and high in case of any danger. This function of the ECS is what makes cannabinoid-based formulas so effective when it comes to treating anxiety disorders. 


Countless things affect your mood and it would be an oversimplification to say only the endocannabinoid system controls it. That being said, research has found that the endocannabinoid system is involved in various brain functions that affect the quality of your mood. 

Energy Levels

Research shows that the endocannabinoid system plays a major role in how energetic we feel on a day to day basis. By maintaining homeostasis in the body, the ECS ensures that we have the energy we need to get through the day, but not so much that we become shaky or overly excited. 

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are perfectly natural body functions that keep us safe from poisoning and other dangers. But because they are also very uncomfortable symptoms, it’s important that the ECS keeps them in check. A well-balanced endocannabinoid system ensures that you won’t experience nausea when it isn’t warranted. 


Because sleep is so tightly connected to factors such as mood and stress levels, it’s no wonder that it’s heavily affected by the endocannabinoid system. Keeping the endocannabinoid system healthy is key to preventing insomnia and other sleep disturbances. 


Endocannabinoid System Explained: Cannabinoids vs Phytocannabinoids

The molecules which have the greatest effect on the endocannabinoid system are called cannabinoids. But contrary to popular belief, not all cannabinoids come from the cannabis plant. 



Endocannabinoids are molecules which are naturally produced by our bodies. We hear about them more rarely because they can’t be synthesized—only your body can produce them. In a healthy body, endocannabinoids help keep the endocannabinoid system working smoothly. However, phytocannabinoids can provide a very welcome additional boost. 


Phytocannabinoids look a lot like the cannabinoids that our body produces. They bind with the same receptors and can affect the endocannabinoid system in a similar way (although they can also affect it in very different ways). As opposed to endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids are derived from the cannabis plant.


The most well-known phytocannabinoids are CBD and THC. However, there are dozens of others, including CBG, CBN, CBDA, or THCV. 


Each phytocannabinoid has unique properties and affects the endocannabinoid system in different ways. For example, THC affects your ECS in a way that increases appetite, while THCV actually reduces appetite. 


The beauty of phytocannabinoids is that getting the right ones into your system can help you achieve the effects you’re looking for: less stress, less pain, relaxed muscles, or improved mood.


hand holding a piece of cannabis flower, full of phytocannabinoids

The Key To Balancing The Human Endocannabinoid System

Your endocannabinoid system can work perfectly fine without any outside help from the cannabis plant. However, cannabinoids can provide a boost to the ECS which helps everything run just a little smoother. 


By choosing the right cannabinoids for your needs, you can help your ECS to help itself—whether you want to fall asleep easier, experience less pain, or just feel more relaxed in your everyday. We’re lucky to be living in a golden age of cannabinoids research, in which more and more targeted products are available. 


That’s not to say that only phytocannabinoids can help and boost your ECS (although it’s one of the easiest ways!). Your body will also naturally produce more endocannabinoids to balance out the ECS when you’re eating well (anti-oxidant-rich foods really help), staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly. Moreover, research has shown that relaxation-inducing activities such as yoga and meditation also help to improve the overall state of the endocannabinoid system. 

Final Words

The endocannabinoid system is an important and complex network that scientists only recently began investigating. Today, we know that keeping your ECS happy is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and wellness. 


Renact’s proprietary formulas are a blend of carefully curated cannabinoids that target specific issues: falling asleep (REST formula) and anxiety (RELIEF formula). Give your ECS the boost it deserves by trying out our vaping formulas—order your first starter kit today!

  It’s a common misconception that all of the CBD you take is absorbed by your body. Most people are surprised to find out that when taking 20mg worth of CBD oil, only 5-6 mg may actually be absorbed by the body. To understand why this happens, we need to talk about CBD bioavailability.   Keep reading to find out what CBD bioavailability actually is, how it differs with different consumption methods, and how to increase it to reap maximum benefits.

What is bioavailability?

Bioavailability is a term that describes the ability of a given compound to be absorbed by your body. From prescription drugs to vitamins, every molecule has a different rate of bioavailability. For example, you may be taking a pill with 25mg of zinc, but only be able to absorb about 50% of it. Why? Because the bioavailability of this type of product is relatively low.   There are many things that can impact the bioavailability of a given molecule. For example, fat-soluble molecules typically have lower rates of bioavailability than the ones that are water-soluble. Consumption methods also affect bioavailability. Products that are vaped or smoked are typically absorbed by the body a lot easier than the ones that are ingested. Finally, some compounds need other compounds to become bioavailable. This is why turmeric supplements are typically combined with black pepper extract: piperine makes the active molecule in turmeric (curcumin) bioavailable—able to be absorbed and have an effect on the body.

How does CBD Bioavailability Work?

When it comes to CBD science, bioavailability is a big topic. Research has already shown that CBD products differ greatly in terms of bioavailability. And since CBD can be fairly expensive, it makes sense to understand how CBD bioavailability works—so we can get as much of the molecule into our bodies as possible!   CBD derives its benefits from its ability to affect the endocannabinoid system (ECS). By binding with certain receptors of the endocannabinoid system, CBD restores balance in the ECS. As a result, this molecule can relieve symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, pain, and much more.   But how does CBD get into the endocannabinoid system? Regardless of consumption method, CBD reaches the ECS through the bloodstream. However, different types of CBD products release the molecule into the bloodstream in different ways. Some get there through the skin, others through the lungs, and others still through the digestive system. Understanding how this works is key to maximizing CBD bioavailability.

CBD Absorption: A Closer Look at Different Consumption Methods

As we’ve previously mentioned, the bioavailability of a given molecule varies greatly based on how it’s taken. Apart from intravenal injection, no consumption method offers 100% bioavailability.   There are four main ways of consuming CBD:

  • Through the lungs (vaping or smoking)
  • By ingesting (taking CBD capsules or eating a CBD edible like CBD gummies or CBD chocolate)
  • By taking it under the tongue (CBD oil or sublingual strips)
  • Through the skin (with products such as CBD cream, or a transdermal patch)

Now let’s take a closer look at how they each work:   When you smoke or vape CBD, the molecule enters the bloodstream through lung tissue. Your lungs do filter out a percentage of CBD molecules, but it’s relatively low. The bioavailability of CBD that is smoked or vaped is estimated to be around 50%. While this may not seem like a lot, it actually makes vaping or smoking CBD the most bioavailability-boosting method of consumption. Smoking or vaping CBD also offers the fastest results, as CBD starts to enter your bloodstream as soon as you take the first inhale.   Ingesting CBD with products such as CBD gummies or CBD capsules is an easy way to get the molecule into your system—but very little of it may actually reach your endocannabinoid system! After you take an edible CBD product, it has to go through your digestive tract before it can start to affect the endocannabinoid system. And that takes a while! Expect to wait up to 2 hours before you start to feel an effect from these products. Because the liver also filters out so much of the CBD molecule, you’ll find that their rates of bioavailability are very low. Studies estimate them to be as low as 5% and as high as 19%.   When you take CBD under the tongue, you can expect to feel some effects in as little as 15 minutes. The reason why “sublingual” (under the tongue) application is so much more effective than simple ingestion is thanks to a vein called the “sublingual gland”. This vein has the ability to communicate directly with the bloodstream—molecules that are placed there have the ability to bypass the digestive system completely, which makes for much better rates of bioavailability. Most studies estimate them to be somewhere between 15 and 30%.   When you apply CBD products to the skin, cannabinoids make their way into your system through the epidermis. There are actually a lot of endocannabinoid receptors found directly under the first layer of your skin. As a result, transdermal (topical) CBD application has the potential to offer very fast results. According to one study, the rates of bioavailability of topical CBD products were around 40%.

CBD bioavailability FAQs

How do you increase CBD bioavailability?

The first step to increase CBD bioavailability is choosing the right product. Vaping CBD is actually a great option for most people, as it offers fast results and the best rates of bioavailability.   For the people who don’t want to vape or smoke however, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to make CBD oil more bioavailable.   First, make sure to line your stomach before taking CBD oil or a CBD edible. This study found that CBD was up to 5 times more effective when taken on a full stomach.   Because CBD is a fat-soluble molecule, it’s also a good idea to take it alongside a source of fat: a spoonful of coconut oil or a piece of avocado, for example.   Finally, some studies have found that taking CBD with black pepper makes it more effective. These research findings indicated that CBD absorption was boosted 2.5 times by taking it alongside piperine, one of the active compounds in black pepper.

What is the best consumption method in terms of CBD bioavailability?

The best consumption method in terms of bioavailability is inhalation. Smoking or vaping CBD gets more of the molecule into your system, simply because your lungs don’t filter out as much as your digestive tract or skin. Topical application (through the skin) is a close second, although topical CBD products are a lot harder to find.

Is taking CBD edibles a waste of time?

With rates of bioavailability as low as 5%, CBD edibles can seem like a waste of time. However, there is some value to them too. For example, they do provide longer-lasting effects than a lot of other products, because CBD gets released into the bloodstream much more slowly. They may also be a good pick for those who suffer from pain or inflammation on a digestive level (such as people with Chron’s disease.) But in general, CBD edibles don’t tend to be worth their price.

Does CBD absorption vary from person to person?

Yes! All of the rates of bioavailability we’ve mentioned in this article are taken from averages. The truth is, bioavailability can vary greatly from one person to the next. Factors such as health, age, and the state of a person’s liver can all impact how much CBD we absorb.

The Final Words on CBD Bioavailability

As people who consume CBD, we just can’t neglect the importance of bioavailability. Low bioavailability products can end up costing you a lot of money without ever delivering the effects that you expect.   If there’s one thing to remember from this article, it’s this: inhaling CBD or applying it to the skin are the 2 best ways to get your money’s worth with CBD products and actually get the relief you want.   Renact offers a range of clinically-tested cannabinoids vaping extracts that deliver on bioavailability and quality. Try out our specialized CBD vapes for sleep or anxiety today with your first starter kit!

CBD has been all over the news and social media in the past couple of years. This non-psychoactive cannabis molecule could have wonderful benefits for many different types of conditions, including:

  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Inflammatory and autoimmune conditions

As CBD grew in popularity, CBD products also became a lot easier to find. Nowadays, CBD oil, gummies, or vapes are all over health shops and online stores.

When you look at these products, you might see a couple of phrases you don’t understand. For example, labels show that CBD products are made with “CBD isolate”, “full spectrum CBD”, or “broad spectrum CBD”. But what does that actually mean? What are the different types of CBD? And which one should you go for? 

What is CBD?

First things first, let’s take a closer look at the cannabis molecule Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is naturally found in cannabis plants, as one of the main “cannabinoids”. Simply put, cannabinoids are cannabis molecules that have the ability to interact with the human endocannabinoid system.

Most people mainly know of one cannabinoid: THC. THC is the molecule that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties (it’s what makes people “high”!) CBD is very different from THC. First of all, it’s a completely non-psychoactive molecule, which is actually legal all over the Western world. And whereas many people use THC for recreational reasons, CBD is mainly used in a therapeutical setting. Here’s how:

The Benefits Of CBD

Many people see CBD as a new molecule or as a trendy ingredient because of its sudden rise in popularity. However, scientists have already been researching CBD for several decades. 

One of the first uses of CBD was to treat certain types of epilepsy, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Today, we also know that CBD has many other uses, such as relieving pain, inflammation, and even mental symptoms like anxiety or depression. 

Three Different Types of CBD

Technically, there is only one type of CBD: the cannabidiol molecule. However, there are many ways to extract that molecule from the cannabis plant. This is what gives us three different types of CBD: CBD isolate, broad spectrum CBD, and full spectrum CBD. 


1- CBD Isolate

As its name suggests, CBD isolate is what you get from “isolating” cannabidiol from all other cannabis compounds. 

To obtain CBD isolate, the CBD molecule has to be separated from other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, fat molecules, chlorophyll, and other types of plant matter. The resulting product contains over 98% CBD molecules. 

When doing research on CBD, scientists often use CBD isolate. As the “purest” form of CBD, isolate doesn’t contain other compounds which could also have an effect on the human body. CBD isolate makes it easy to see just how CBD impacts the human body. But for therapeutic purposes, it might not be the best type of CBD out there. 

How is CBD Isolate Extracted?

How do CBD manufacturers go from cannabis plant matter (flowers, leaves, stalks) to a pure CBD powder? There are two main methods of extraction used to produce CBD isolate: 

CO2 Extraction

CO2 extraction is probably the best method to obtain CBD isolate. Unlike solvent extraction, it guarantees that the final product won’t contain any traces of alcohol or other solvents. 

CO2 extraction uses both pressure and temperature to transform cannabis into pure CBD powder. Temperature is necessary for the process known as “decarboxylation”. For cannabis to develop CBD molecules, it needs to be heated up past a certain temperature. Once this has been done, CO2 gas is used to separate CBD molecules from the plant matter. 

Whereas CO2 extraction tends to use high temperatures, subcritical CO2 extraction works with lower temperature. This latter method is more advanced and expensive. However, it’s also a lot better, since it preserves more of the terpenes found in cannabis. 

Ethanol Extraction 

Ethanol extraction uses grain alcohol to extract CBD from hemp flowers. It’s a relatively easy and cost-effective way of getting CBD isolate. However, there is always the risk that the final product will contain traces of alcohol. This could give it an unpleasant taste, and make it less “pure”. 

The Uses of CBD Isolate

Both methods result in an odorless, tasteless white powder called CBD isolate. This powder is usually mixed in with other ingredients. For example, it can be mixed with a topical cream to make CBD balm, or added to other ingredients to create CBD gummies. Manufacturers can also put pure CBD isolate into capsules to create 100% CBD softgels. 

CBD isolate is also the best form of CBD to create products such as sublingual strips or transdermal patches. 

As we mentioned previously, CBD isolate is often used in research. Compared to broad spectrum CBD which contains a lot of terpenes, CBD isolate doesn’t contain any. It’s useful for scientists as it allows them to see exactly what CBD does to the body. For example, when they find out that CBD isolate cream relieves topical inflammation, they know that this effect wasn’t caused by limonene or pinene instead.

For consumers however, CBD isolate might not be the best option. The effects of CBD are much stronger when the molecule is taken together with other cannabinoids or terpenes. In that sense broad or full spectrum CBD is more effective than CBD isolate for the same dosage. 


2- Full Spectrum CBD