The EndoCannabinoid System Explained

“All things in balance.” The EndoCannabinoid system works to achieve harmony between the many systems of the body. You may remember studying neuro-transmitters and receptors in the brain during science class. The EndoCannabinoid system works similarly but throughout the whole body. Understanding this system in your body is the key to grasping how CBD is changing the lives of millions of people every year.
Every person’s body makes EndoCannabinoids that naturally attach to the same receptors in the body as THC and CBD effect. The EndoCannabinoid System is pivotal in the body’s overall bioregulation and each cell’s work to attain and return to homeostasis. 
This naturally occurring biological system helps regulate all kinds of neurological and physiological processes in the body, ranging from prenatal development to appetite to mood and more. Put simply, it is a way for cells to communicate with each other, allowing necessary cooperation between systems. 
But for many people, the system is only half-working or not working very well at all. In these cases, it is believed that CBD may be able to replace or increase naturally occurring EndoCannabinoids without side effects, which may well mean relief from a wide variety of difficult to treat symptoms.
As scientists and doctors discover more about the EndoCannabinoid system (ECS,) many are finding that they are able to treat issues with CBD for which there were previously few or no good options. That’s revolutionary! Interested in how the ECS affects you? Read on...
The Endocannabinoid System

Let’s Start At The Beginning

  • Scientific research revealed the EndoCannabinoid system in the 1990s. So far, two endocannabinoids have been identified and isolated: CB1 and CB2.
  • Although ECS includes, “cannabinoid,” in the name, this system is present and vital in your body even if you’ve never used any cannabis products.
  • Scientists first isolated THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in the 1960s. THC is responsible for most of the psychological effects of marijuana, including the feeling of being, “high.”
  • More recently, CBD (cannabidiol) was isolated by scientists. CBD also behaves like naturally occurring endocannabinoids, but does not produce the side effects of THC.

Tell me more about my natural EndoCannabinoids!

  • CB1 and CB2 are both retrograde neurotransmitters, meaning they carry information from one cell to another. 
  • EndoCannabinoids are found in the nervous system, the brain, organ tissue, and elsewhere. Normally, the body makes more of these neurotransmitters whenever it needs them and then dissolves them with enzymes when they are no longer needed.
  • THC can bind with CB1 in a similar way to the naturally occurring molecule anandamide does in the body. CBD binds similarly to naturally occurring 2-Arachidonoylglycerol - or 2-AG, for short.
  • 2-AG is involved in the peripheral nervous system, meaning it assists with pain regulation, appetite, the immune system, mood, and more. CBD can behave similarly to 2-AG in order to possibly improve function of any and all systems 2-AG is involved in.

But how does the ECS work?

  • Remember what we said about cells communicating? Here’s the longer explanation!
  • EndoCannabinoids bind to EndoCannabinoid receptors in whatever part of the body they’re needed. 
  • Your body might signal that it has pain in a particular area. The body will send EndoCannabinoids to bind to receptors in that area to help ameliorate the pain. 
  • If you’ve taken CBD, you may be able to increase the number EndoCannabinoids binding to receptors in that area, thus improving your symptoms further.

What does the ECS regulate? How does CBD help?

  • That’s a simple question, but we don’t yet have a simple answer.
  • While these systems of cell communication is nearly as old as the human race; the EndoCannabinoid system is only just beginning to be explored by scientists and doctors.
  • Published in 2018, a new study links EndoCannabinoid Deficiency to ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, fibromyalgia, and other auto-immune disorders. It is theorized that the introduction of more EndoCannabinoids through THC and/or CBD may help improve or even cure such ailments.
  • The lived experience of many people is that the responsible use of marijuana has improved symptoms of chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and much more. The introduction of CBD may allow people to experience these effects without the psychoactive side-effects of using THC.
  • The scientific data needed to conclusively prove these benefits is not yet available, but results so far are very promising indeed.

Overall, the EndoCannabinoid system touches nearly every body and neural process. While not yet proven, research is now pointing to EndoCannabinoid Deficiency as the cause of many difficult to treat conditions. The introduction of CBD has helped many people combat pain, improve mood, and free themselves from the unpleasant side effects of other medications. It is worth considering if it might be right for you.