What is the Endocannabinoid System? People who find themselves using medical cannabis should understand how the cannabinoids within the plant is helping them out. Today we'll be talking about the endocannabinoid system
With scientific research on Cannabis and the role its cannabinoids play to either heal or be used for recreational purposes, it is helpful to understand how it applies to the body. What is the Endocannabinoid System and how do cannabinoids relate to it? The endocannabinoid system is a very important biological system in the body that has an effect on physical and psychological level. Endo means endogenous that refers to that what comes from within. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that activate the system.
The feedback on cannabis-related science spiked the interest of the average marijuana user to understand the benefits cannabis has other than for recreational purposes. As studies progress it becomes clear that cannabinoids derived from cannabis and the endocannabinoid system are made for one another.
What are Cannabinoids then?
Cannabinoids act as chemical messengers for the cannabinoids system (ECS) There are many different cannabinoids but can be categorized under two sections: endogenous – produced inside the body where they interact with the cannabinoid receptors to regulate functions like appetite, memory, mood, sleep, pain and more.
Exogenous- They are produced outside the body such as THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol) and many more. They interact with the receptors of the ECS when consumed to produce physical and psychological effects.
Cannabinoids and Cannabinoid Receptors
CB1 – could be found all over the body but are mainly found in the brain and spinal cord. Their function is to influence the behaviors related to where they are concentrated in the brain. For instance; in the hypothalamus they influence appetite regulation. CB1 receptors are also found in nerve endings where they reduce pain sensations.
CB2 – They are found in the peripheral nervous system, immune cells and gastrointestinal tract with specific concentration in the immune cells. They specifically work to reduce inflammation
Cannabinoid THC – interacts and binds with both CB1 and CB2 receptors and activate them just like an endocannabinoid.
Cannabinoid CBD- does not bind directly to the receptors but rather inhibits and enzyme known as FAAH to break down anandamide. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter in the brain and apart from producing happiness, it also is important in motivation, memory and movement control.
What does the ECS do?
At the most basic level (tissue and cellular), the ECS is a neuromodulator. Neuromodulation is communication between neurons on a more indirect and diffused manner. Cannabinoids can be seen as mediators where feedback is given to the stimulated neurons to regulate future cellular behavior.
The diversity of the placement of the receptors indicates the importance of the endocannabinoid system for the regulation of daily bodily functions. The following basic functions are included:
- Memory and learning
- Neuroprotection and neuro- development
- Cardiovascular function
In conclusion the importance of the endocannabinoid system is not debatable and plays a vital role in treating many diseases. Compounds in cannabis are known to produce therapeutic effects by interacting with the ECS. Many conditions related to the functions mentioned above are treatable by marijuana. This should explain what is the endocannabinoid system effectively.