An Intro To The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)


As you begin to research CBD and its effects on the body you'll often run across a term that is vaguely defined: Endocannabinoid System.

What is it? How does it work? Why should you care about it? And what does it have to do with cannabidiol (CBD)?

The Endocannabinoid System 

Your endocannabinoid system (ECS) is merely a form of biochemical communication happening inside your body. For our bodies to operate at optimal levels, we must be in a state of equilibrium. This is known as homeostasis. And the ECS plays a crucial role our bodies process to reach said balance. 

Pain, stress, metabolism, cardiovascular function, inflammation and sleep are just a few of the tasks our endocannabinoid system is involved in.

The ECS contains three main components- "messenger" molecules that our body fuses, receptors the molecules bind to and enzymes that break them down. This system communicates with cannabinoid molecules all throughout your body and can travel through your bloodstream.

Anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are two naturally produced cannabinoid molecules within our body. Both anandamide and 2-AG are generated "on demand" by the cells and seek out the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

CB1 receptors, found in the central nervous system, regulate various brain functions. The CB1 receptors main goal is to control the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and glutamine between neurons in your brain. Simply put, the ECS acts as a stop light regulating the time and quantity of neurotransmitters allowed to travel between neurons. Though CB1 receptors are the primary cause of euphoria felt from consuming cannabis, they are also heavily involved in the brain's tolerance of pain.

CB2 receptors are mainly found on immune cells and travel throughout through the body via the bloodstream. These receptors are mostly involved in pain relief, anti-inflammation and neuroprotection.

Endocannabinoid System

Since our body already produces cannabinoid molecules to regulate various functions, we come naturally equipped with many of the target receptors phytocannabinoids can activate. Phytocannabinoids are compounds produced by the trichomes on the cannabis plant. And beyond the already mentioned cannabinoid receptors, phytocannabinoids bind to many more receptors. Cannabidiol (CBD) alone, targets over 12 receptors in the brain. This is important as doctors and researchers believe CBD's ability to target numerous receptors natural cannabinoid molecules can't make the compound a non-toxic therapy to treat pain and other health issues without the side effects of prescription drugs.

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