The Endocannabinoid System

What is The Endocannabinoid System

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a naturally occurring network of receptors spread throughout the entire human body. It wasn’t until in the 1990s that researchers first discovered endocannabinoids, which are the natural cannabis-like molecules produced by the human body. Scientists began to realize that cannabinoids from plants like hemp had an effect on the human body by mimicking our own naturally occurring endocannabinoids.

The ECS has receptors located all throughout the body including the brain, central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system (digestive tract, immune system, reproductive system, skin cells, heart, and more). The endocannabinoids work by binding to their corresponding receptors, giving our cells specific directions. Certain cannabinoids like CBD increase the amount of endocannabinoids present in the body.

Human endocannabinoid system

We now know the endocannabinoid system is involved in a wide variety of processes, including pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, sleep, metabolism, immune function, and reproductive function. Endocannabinoids are arguably one of the most widespread and versatile signaling molecules known to man.

Receptor sites on cells to receive cannabinoids are either CB1 or CB2 receptors. Endocannabinoids interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptor sites with the goal of helping the body achieve homeostasis, or equilibrium. CB1 and CB2 receptors respond differently, respectively, to different cannabinoids. CB1 receptors are most prevalent in the central nervous system, and are linked to modulating stress, anxiety, appetite, nausea, and immune system balance. CB2 receptors are found mostly on cells in the immune system, and seem to dominate in fighting inflammation and damage to tissue. Some cells can even contain both types of receptors, each responsible for a different function.

How Does The Endocannabinoid System Affect My Health?

How Does The Endocannabinoid System
Affect My Health?

Since discovering the endocannabinoid system and its parts, researchers have worked to further understand how the endocannabinoid system may be used therapeutically to decrease pain, prevent neurodegenerative diseases, and promote health. Overall, research indicates that the endocannabinoid system helps regulate the body’s immune and central nervous systems and ensure they are running correctly.

One theory about how the endocannabinoid system relates to our overall health is the “endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome,” which speculates that for some people, the body does not generate enough endocannabinoids. This concept further speculates that the deficiency could be the root cause of many autoimmune disorders, including migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and more.

Cannabinoids found in plants like hemp, including CBD, are equivalent to the endocannabinoids naturally produced by the body. Research shows that they interact with the cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system to elicit chemical responses that help bring about homeostasis or equilibrium in the body.

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