What is the Endocannabinoid System?
What is the Endocannabinoid System? Do we all have one? How does it work? What are the effects of cannabis products? Yes, we all have an Endocannabinoid System (ECS) much the same as we all have a central nervous system or a digestive system. The system is named after the cannabis plant that led to its discovery. The root of the word comes from the Sanskrit word ananda which means bliss. The ECS is categorized as one of the most important physiologic systems involved in establishing and maintaining human health as well as immune responses.
Background of The Endocannabinoid System
In the early-mid 1990s, the ECS was discovered by Israeli chemist and Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Ralph Mechoulam, and his colleagues. They located and identified two naturally produced major endocannabinoids within the human body. That’s right, we produce our own cannabinoids naturally! Around the same time molecular biologist, Lisa Matsuda and her team of researchers identified a THC-sensitive receptor within lab rat brains at the National Institute of Mental Health. From that point on, over 20,000 scientific studies have been released in the past two decades regarding the ECS and cannabinoids.
How Does the Endocannabinoid System Work?
The ECS is important for the human body’s health and equilibrium. The main goal of this system is homeostasis — bringing your body into natural balance by maintaining a stable internal environment regardless of fluctuations and stressors in the external environment.
The ECS has various integrated mechanisms including the following:
- Enzymes responsible for creating and destroying cannabinoids
- Receptor sites on cells to receive cannabinoids
- Endocannabinoids themselves, which are cannabinoid-like compounds that the human body naturally produces
Each of these mechanisms is responsible for regulating different biological responses through communication within the body. The ECS is linked to a variety of important processes within the brain, nervous system, and reproductive organs.
Endocannabinoids and Cannabinoid Receptors Explained:
The ECS is comprised of a collection of cell receptors and corresponding molecules that respond to certain agonists within our bodies. The primary cell receptors that make up the ECS consist of Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2) but more continue to be studied. Primary endocannabinoid receptors are located throughout the body including; the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, immune cells, and at the intersection of the body’s different systems. As a result, this allows for communication and coordination between different cell types.
However, specific cannabinoid receptors are more concentrated in certain regions of the body. For example, CB1 receptors are highly abundant within the central nervous system. Whereas, CB2 receptors are located primarily on immune cells, in the gastrointestinal tract, and within the peripheral nervous system.
Benefits of Endocannabinoid Receptors:
Endocannabinoids are signaling molecules that interact with CB1 receptors, potentially resulting in the support of several positive effects; increased appetite, decreased nausea, immune system balance, tumor inhibition, and modulation of stress and anxiety. On the other hand, interactions with CB2 receptors have their own benefits, which include fighting inflammation and tissue damage.
The endocannabinoids that our bodies naturally produce interact with these receptors, transmitting information about changing conditions to kick-start responses. As a result, the body can receive help to achieve homeostasis within itself.
Although our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids, for some it is possible to have difficulty generating enough endocannabinoids, which can lead to endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome (CECD).
CBD, THC & the ECS:
The relationship each of these compounds has with the endocannabinoid system is unique. For example, THC binds with the body’s cannabinoid receptors directly, but CBD does not. CBD works indirectly with the receptors within the body’s system, whereas, THC mimics the body’s naturally produced cannabinoids.
Take Your Pick!
Now that you’re more familiar with the Endocannabinoid System, or ECS, you can start your CBD journey with Infinite CBD! The first step is identifying an improvement you would like to see in your everyday life. The next step is simply picking a product that you are comfortable with trying. If you are still unsure, try our Product Finder Quiz — this will walk you through the decision-making process and match you with your perfect product.