IntroductionEndocannabinoids, also called endogenous cannabinoids, are chemical compounds made naturally by your body. These endocannabinoids communicate with or activate receptors, which are cells that respond to stimuli.
Endocannabinoids interact directly with the CB1 and CB2 receptors inside human—or nearly all other animals’—bodies.
CB1 receptors are located mainly within brain cells and the central nervous system.
CB2 receptors are primarily found in peripheral organs, with many CB2 receptors found inside the gut.
These CB1 and CB2 receptors are present on the surface of cells and interact with phytocannabinoids, or naturally produced cannabis plant matter molecules.
Both CB receptors are G (guanine nucleotide-binding proteins) protein cells that act as molecular switches. G cells are able to directly influence any incoming signal. In this sense, they are able to ‘override’ certain signals (i.e, they can reduce pain signals throughout the brain).
Your Own EndocannabinoidsThe human body naturally produces endocannabinoids when they are needed, but it does not stimulate the response from the body for longer than necessary.
After the body has utilised these endocannabinoids, they are repackaged by metabolic enzymes. Enzymes are proteins that act as converters and create chemical reactions.
The two main endocannabinoids are anandamide, or N-arachidonoylethanolamine, and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Both of these endocannabinoids are produced inside cell membranes.
Anandamide is referred to as the ‘bliss molecule’ and is a fatty acid neurotransmitter. It was the first endocannabinoid to be discovered. Anandamide’s effects occur in either the peripheral nervous system or the central nervous system.
2-AG is the most commonly found endocannabinoid in the human brain and body.
The Endocannabinoid System In ActionHomeostasis is the process any living thing uses to maintain steady and stable internal, chemical, and physical conditions necessary for survival.
In regards to the endocannabinoid system (ECS), homeostasis is created by the ECS through synthesizing cannabinoids such as THC. It uses other cannabinoids, like CBD or CBG, to regulate and work against cell stressors.
The ECS helps to regulate a plethora of functions of the body, including: metabolism, inflammation and other immune system responses, pain, mood, appetite and digestion, learning and memory, sleep, the cardiovascular system, motor control, the reproductive system, skin and nerves, stress, and the liver.
While more research into the endocannabinoid system is needed, it is obvious how important it is to human well-being, both physical and mental.
We’ll keep you posted on all the latest research on the endocannabinoid system so that you can be as informed as possible while on your cannabis wellness journey!