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The Endocannabinoid System

The Endocannabinoid System
July 07, 2021

The Endocannabinoid System...such a huge thing for the human body, yet very little knowledge on it from anyone that isn’t a scientist. The ECS plays a role in regulating sleep, mood, appetite, memory, fertility and more, making it very important for homeostasis. 


There are three core components of the system, just like all the other systems in the human body, endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Breaking it down further there are two key cannabinoids, anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). This is where it gets kind of tricky for most research, our bodies produce these endocannabinoids as needed, meaning typical levels are different for everyone. 


When an endocannabinoid binds to the receptors it’s signaling that action needs to be taken, these receptors are broken down into CB1 and CB2. While there are more than two receptors for this system CB1 and CB2 do most of the work. CB1 is mostly found in the central nervous system, and as we all know, this is how we function. CB2 is mostly found in the peripheral nervous system, the other system that helps us function. If there is anything out of homeostasis in the CNS or the PNS then our bodies struggle to function properly. 


Say you have a muscle ache in your neck, the CNS is sending signals to the receptors that something is wrong and it hurts. Now say you have an autoimmune issue or something similar, healthy cells are being attacked by mistake, the PNS is sending signals to those receptors that something is wrong, even though nothing is, it’s creating a problem that doesn’t need to be there. The CB1 receptors will most likely attach to the CNS which could help relieve pain from an injury, and the CB2 receptors will most likely attach to the PNS, mainly the immune cells, which could severely help autoimmune issues. 


Now enzymes break down the endocannabinoids once they have done their job, the two main enzymes are fatty acid amide hydrolase, this breaks down AEA, and monoacylglycerol acid lipase, which breaks down 2-AG. If these are being broken down too quickly or enough endocannabinoids aren’t attaching to receptors then the body is at risk of losing homeostasis. Since this system helps regulate so many different functions it’s important to keep it healthy, even though it’s hard to say how many receptors there truly are, or how many functions it is involved in, scientists do know that it helps these,

-appetite and digestion

-metabolism

-chronic pain

-inflammation and other immune system responses

-mood

-learning and memory

-motor control

-sleep

-cardiovascular system function

-muscle formation

-bone remodeling and growth

-liver function

-reproduction system

-stress

-skin and nerve function


All of these functions if working properly will create a homeostasis state for the body, which is the ultimate goal to being healthy. When CBD is introduced to the endocannabinoid system it attaches to the receptors in a different way compared to THC. CBD will attach to the receptors and act as an antagonist against the enzyme trying to break it down, which gives the CBD a chance to bind to the endocannabinoid receptors, allowing the endocannabinoids to have more of an effect on the body so it can create homeostasis. While the endocannabinoid system is important for homeostasis, and CBD can help achieve this, it’s also important to note that in order to create homeostasis in your body it takes more than helping one body system, every system has to be healthy for the whole body to be healthy.