Nutritional scientists have shown that balancing pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats with inflammation-resolving omega-3 fats can positively impact a multitude of health outcomes, improving cardiovascular health, brain health, and metabolic wellness. A similar analogy can be used when discussing endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid “tone/balance.” Endocannabinoids are known to modulate and influence a variety of physiological systems, including appetite, pain, inflammation, energy balance, metabolism, sleep health, stress responses, motivation/reward, mood, and memory. Cannabinoid receptors have two main subtypes. CB1 is found mostly in the brain and are mostly associated with the psychoactive and euphoric aspects of THC. However, CB2 receptors are mostly found within the immune system and influence so much more.
Endocannabinoid tone/balance is the relative contributions of CB1 vs. CB2 activity at any given time. Research is accumulating that shows CB1 dominance is associated with increased perception of stress, anxiety, paranoia, augmented appetite, and decreased nausea/vomiting and pain, as well as enhanced immune surveillance, the latter of which has been demonstrated in certain cancer models. In contrast, CB2 dominance is associated with decreased inflammation and tissue injury, in conjunction with improvements in metabolic health, insulin signaling/sensitivity, satiety, and energy balance. Increased omega-3 levels from fish oil consumption cause significant changes in the endocannabinoid system by increasing receptors of CB2, but decreased levels of CB1 activity. Keep in mind that CB1/CB2 “balance” is critical – a person in balance should enjoy a normal mental state, without pain, have a good digestive system, an improvement of anxiety, and generally well-being.