The endocannabinoid system is a complex and active network of cell signaling in the human body. Endocannabinoids, enzymes, and cannabinoid receptors make up the endocannabinoid system. These receptors help in regulating many the functions of the body.
ECS was discovered fairly recently in the early 1990s. It was discovered when the first endocannabinoid was isolated in the human brain by a chemist. Since then, researchers have been intrigued to learn more about how it works.
Endocannabinoids in our bodies are like cannabinoids that are found in Hemp and cannabis plants. The human body produces them naturally.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system helps in the regulation of many bodily functions such as:
- Regulates blood pressure
- Relieves pain & inflammation
- Promotes restful sleep and more REM sleep
- Reduces nausea and vomiting
- Helps with embryonic development
- Balances energy
- Improves immune response
- Improves memory and learning
Endocannabinoids also target and help pathological conditions for example, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, MS, and Alzheimer’s disease.
What are Endocannabinoids?
Endocannabinoids occur naturally and are lipid-based neurotransmitters. They help the body with multiple bodily functions. Hence, there is no fixed level.
There are two main types of endocannabinoids.
- Anandamide (AEA or arachidonoyl ethanolamide) – also known as the ‘bliss molecule’
- 2-archidonoyl glyerol (2-AG)
Cannabinoid receptors are present on the cell surface. Endocannabinoids bind to these receptors. These receptors send a message, and the response is kick-started.
There are two types of receptors present throughout the body:
- CB1 in the central nervous system
- CB2 in the peripheral nervous system
Endocannabinoids can attach to any receptor, and each has a different result that depends entirely on its location in the body.
When CB1 is targeted, pain is relieved. When CB2 the receptor is targeted, it signals the body to reduce inflammation.
What breaks down the endocannabinoids?
Enzymes break down the endocannabinoids after the needed response is carried out. The two enzymes are
- Fatty acid amide hydrolase
- monoacylglycerol acid lipase
The Release of Cannabinoids in the Body
Endocannabinoids are naturally produced in the body and are present in various organs and tissues. These include the muscles, the brain, and the cells that circulate through the body. Endocannabinoids become active when they bind with the cannabinoid receptors, which are present throughout the body.
No exact physiological mechanism has been concluded so far about what triggers the binding of the receptors. However, the expert theory says that when receptors in the body are out of balance, they bind to the cannabinoids and fix the issue.
The system is very specific. For instance, if there is a fluctuation in the body temperature, the endocannabinoid regulates it without altering any other processes. When the temperature is stabilized, the cannabinoids are broken down by the enzymes to prevent overcorrection.
Functions of Endocannabinoids and ECS
ECS and cannabinoids together have vast functions. However, although ECS plays a significant role in the body’s functions, the exact mechanism is yet to be discovered.
ECS also plays a role in homeostasis, which is maintaining the stability and optimal conditions of the body. This helps in the promotion of proper function of all systems.
Homeostasis is important for the maintenance of temperature, blood sugar, and appetite. It is believed that if the body is not in the normal range, ECS helps the body return to normal.
Therapeutic Uses of Cannabinoids
It has been indicated that ECS has various therapeutic agents. In addition, although the body produces endocannabinoids, there are many cannabinoids present in the hemp plant such as CBD, therefore, this plant has a lot of medical interest.
The most popularly known cannabinoids are THC and CBD. They bind to the receptors of cannabinoids and produce effects that are like endocannabinoids. THC can make people feel “high”, whereas CBD does not cause the same effect, however it has many beneficial properties including relaxation.
Not everything about the ECS system is known today, but research continues and anecdotal results are widely known. However, the endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in maintaining the body’s proper function as per the conducted research.
Endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes work together and maintain the body’s functions. Moreover, it has therapeutic targets that can help in treating various medical conditions.
CBD is a safe and effective way to get cannabinoids into the body, to improve many conditions and create a better quality of life.