How positively amazing it is that we have been gifted plants to co-exist with us here on Earth.  Like the medicine we need to counterbalance the effects of any disease we might encounter in life already exists somewhere … we just have to discover it and use it properly … and match it to the appropriate scenario.

Okay, off my soap box and on to “proven science” …

In the scenario of Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED), what happens when our body does not produce the necessary levels of cannabinoids (remember these ECS “keys” are called endocannabinoids) we need to maintain full function of the ECS.  Without adequate levels of these “key players”, many vital systems can be effected and our homeostasis suffers.  Ideally it is wise to determine what caused the deficiency to occur in the first place and to work at correcting that.  We previously touched on how genetics, toxicities and nutritional deficiencies can contribute to CED.

Thankfully, the external environment we live in also contains cannabinoids which are often referred to as exogenous cannabinoids. This means that we were created to make and release our own cannabinoids and we have also been gifted with plants that also support our vital endocannabinoid system. We call these plant-sources PHYTOCANNABINOIDS.

You’ve likely heard of one of these cannabinoid-rich plants, CANNABIS SATIVA, which had been used for thousands of years prior to its ban in 1937. I encourage you to remain open in your continued journey of discovery here. Some top doctors around the world have been unraveling the truth behind the sacred cannabis plants, including CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Oz, Dr. Axe, and so many more.

I am sure this isn’t the first time it’s happened that a plant was used medicinally long before the light was shed on its chemical components and before we fully understood how it all actually “worked”.

FYI … the terms “cannabis” and “marijuana” are often used interchangeably, but did you know that HEMP is actually part of the “cannabis family”?

Even though they are both the same species of plant, they are treated VERY differently.  Let’s get straight to it and talk about what makes these two so different.

In all things relating to the law, the big difference that separates these two “family members” is that one can get you “high” and the other simply cannot.  Any Cannabis sativa plant that has a THC content greater than 0.3 percent is classified as marijuana and therefore, to be classified as hemp must have less than 0.3 percent THC.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical in cannabis known for its “psychoactive” component that is responsible for the “high” or intoxicating feeling associated with its use.  THC has a high affinity for the CB1 receptors in the brain and throughout the central nervous system, which explains the “head high” and “body high” that people experience.  Some marijuana plants have up to 20%-30% THC these days, making it less than ideal for many to use.

Now let’s clarify something real quick …

The definition of psychoactive is something that “affects the mind or behavior”, typically in regards to a drug. Psychoactive doesn’t have to be all bad. Have you ever exhibited unworldly self-control as your child throws an epic fit? Instead of entering the child’s chaos, you choose to stop and breathe and find your center. Technically, your conscious breathing had a “psychoactive” affect if it took you from the swirls of the fury you started to step into and moved you to a different state and changed your behavior. Or maybe it’s easier to relate to the “mind-altering affects” of caffeine instead! =)

So, let’s remain open as we continue to learn …

Considering that the THC content of marijuana has progressively gotten stronger over the years, many people prefer to source a high-quality hemp product instead because of its extremely low levels of THC … you get the healing without the high!

So if you aren’t using cannabis for the THC, what are we using it for?

This compound is stealing the spotlight and being plastered all over signs and social media …


Like THC, cannabadiol (CBD) is also a phytocannabinoid (a plant-based source of cannabinoids) but is considered “non-toxic” and non-euphoric. CBD does not actually bind to ECS receptors like THC does … it has a different kind of positive interaction with the ECS that is proving to have very strong anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, and anti-convulsant effects.

CBD acts upon our ECS differently than the way our own “homemade” endocannabinoids do, too.  Like THC, our endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-AG, work by binding to the receptors of the ECS (remember the locks and keys in the previous articles). CBD not only modifies the receptors ability to bind to cannabinoids it also inhibits the enzymes (FAAH) that break down our endocannabinoids … enhancing and extending the life of our “homemade” cannabinoids!  This is similar to the way the SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) drugs work with depression (but without all the unwanted side effects).

What I am saying here is that the many benefits reported by people taking hemp oil can in part be traced back to the CBD content and its effects on the ECS.  To date, the most abundant source of CBD that we have found in any plant is from the HEMP STALK. An important thing we should all be aware of is that hemp SEEDS do not contain cannabinoids – no CBD, no THC, no CBN … no cannabinoids.  This doesn’t render them helpless though, as hemp seeds are full of antioxidants and healthy essential fatty acids and still offer great health benefits.

While CBD seems like a magic bullet, the other cannabinoids offer major benefits, too. Don’t get me wrong, I think CBD is amazing.  However, I think the synergy and power that comes from sourcing the entire plant is even more amazing and ideal. These plants were created with all the parts for a reason … extracting out one piece doesn’t have the same effect and often comes with a list of side effects when used in its isolated form.

We call extracts that come from the whole plant (as opposed to isolating one component) … FULL SPECTRUM.

In addition to the low THC levels and higher CBD counts, full spectrum hemp oil offers around 100 different bioactive compounds that have been identified that contribute to the healing effects this sacred plant can offer … and all without the high.

Please don’t assume that marijuana is “all bad” either because there is an entire field of research dedicated to its profound positive effects with cancer patients.  Remember … open-minded is key if you want to learn new things!

Finally, I want to leave you with just one more boasting benefit found with a high-quality source of full spectrum hemp oil …

The hemp plant is one of the most abundant and healthy sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids … and an optimal ratio of the two maybe more “perfect” than any other source!  Omega-3 fatty acids (found in high concentrations in fish) happen to also be the building blocks needed to make cannabinoid receptors! What an added amazing and intelligent bonus!


By stimulating and supporting your endocannabinoid system naturally with a high-quality, full-spectrum hemp oil, the list of benefits that are possible seems limitless!  Who couldn’t benefit from less anxiety or improved stress management, lower cortisol levels or fewer headaches and migraines, improved mood or better sleep, less hyperactivity and impulsivity, better focus and concentration, increased rate of neurogenesis or reduced pain and inflammation…

The list can go on if you want it to.  I encourage you to head to PubMed and search for the “ECS and …” whatever benefit you are seeking … and see what comes up!

Below are several studies done on topics I covered throughout this article.

Get to know Dr Lauren Benakovich DC, ICAK

I was born and raised in my family’s health food store (Georgetown Market) in Indianapolis, IN.  The seeds for optimal health were planted early on.  As a child I was also raised with the hands-on healing art of chiropractic that blended beautifully into my roots.  I continued growing into the field and became a chiropractor in 2007 (thank you Logan College of Chiropractic).  

Throughout the years I have taken a special interest in holistic care for young families … beginning my own family in 2013 with a fairly rough start launched me into the field of functional medicine to heal my son.  I am now blessed with the opportunity to facilitate the growth of four children (Noah, Hunter, Kylie and Clara) with the help of many … especially my husband, Isaiah.  

I chose a long time ago to pursue a path where I could serve and inspire others in living a better life through safe and natural ways.  I am humble enough to know that I do not have all the answers, but also have a passion for learning.  As we continue to discover more about the endocannabinoid system, my hope is that our world can awaken to the amazing healing power and potential this will bring to all of us.