What Exactly is the Endocannabinoid System?

Our body is a complex unity of many systems working together. With the help of supplements and other natural remedies, such as hemp (CBD or CBG), we’re able support these functions. These systems within our body include: the muscular system, nervous system, digestive system, endocrine system, and many more! However, did you know, we have a system that directly processes hemp or cannabis related products? This recently discovered system is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is a complex cell-signaling system found in all vertebrates, including humans. It plays a critical role in maintaining the balance of various physiological processes, including pain, appetite, mood, and immune function. The ECS consists of endocannabinoids, which are naturally produced lipids, receptors that endocannabinoids bind to, and enzymes that break down the endocannabinoids after they have completed their function.

Endocannabinoids bind to two types of receptors found in the ECS: CB1 receptors, which are primarily found in the central nervous system, and CB2 receptors, which are primarily found in the peripheral nervous system and immune cells. The interaction between endocannabinoids and their receptors helps regulate the body’s response to various stimuli and maintain homeostasis. For example, endocannabinoids can bind to CB1 receptors in the brain to reduce pain perception and regulate mood. They can also bind to CB2 receptors in immune cells to modulate inflammation.

The ECS can be activated by the consumption of compounds known as phytocannabinoids, which are found in the Cannabis sativa plant. The most well-known phytocannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana, while CBD is non-psychoactive and has been shown to have a range of therapeutic effects, including reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and reducing inflammation.

In conclusion, the endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes and maintaining homeostasis in the body. Understanding the ECS and its interactions with both endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids is important for the development of new therapies for a variety of medical conditions. Further research is needed to fully understand the potential therapeutic benefits of the ECS and the role it plays in health and disease.