How Does the Endocannabinoids System Work?

Endocannabinoid System Explained: 

The endogenous cannabinoid system, also known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), is part of the human nervous system. The ECS has endogenous cannabinoids, i.e. endocannabinoids, which dock to various receptors distributed throughout the body. The cannabinoid receptors are found in various organs: the nervous, respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems.

What Does the Endocannabinoid System Do? 

The endocannabinoid system regulates a variety of processes in our body, thus influencing our mood, as well as, our appetite, memory, and inflammatory processes in our body. It is designed to keep our body in a healthy balance. For this purpose, cannabinoids bind to special receptors, such as CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors help us, for example, in memory processing and pain regulation, while CB2 receptors act, for example, on the immune system.

The effect of the endocannabinoids can be imitated or enhanced by plant cannabinoids, as they occur in the hemp plant.


The endocannabinoid system was discovered in 1992 at the National Institute of Mental Health in the USA. Interestingly, the endocannabinoid system was only discovered after the elucidation of the effect of exogenous cannabinoids, the active ingredients of the hemp plant. An international group of scientists succeeded in proving that besides exogenous cannabinoids, endocannabinoids, the body's own ligands, also exist. Since then, research has been able to make progress, but the researchers are still a long way from being able to completely clarify the function of this complex system. Research findings suggest that the endocannabinoid system is responsible for the balance in our body. However, there is increasing evidence that a disruption of the system plays a role in chronic diseases such as migraine or fibromyalgia.


The endocannabinoid system is a sophisticated system of receptors, endogenous, and exogenous cannabinoids and enzymes that build up or break down the cannabinoids.

Endocannabinoids are produced by our body cells in response to various stimuli. They fulfil their function by binding to and activating the cannabinoid receptors. Once they have done their job, the endocannabinoids are broken down again by the body. This enables the body to react quickly to stimuli and adapt the effect of the endocannabinoid system to the needs of the body.

The most important endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-arachidonoglycerol (2-AG for short). When these substances bind to the corresponding receptors CB1 and CB2, which are present in the various organs of our body, they trigger a reaction in the corresponding cells. This influences our mood, memory, concentration, appetite and pain. Certain activities increase our endocannabinoid levels. For example, our body produces more endocannabinoids when we sing, read books or jog. That's why we feel so good during these activities, our mood rises, the stress level drops.

Normally, the regulation of the endocannabinoid system works through our endogenous cannabinoids, i.e. completely without external influences. But sometimes our body needs a little push from outside: then the herbal cannabinoids come into play, which support the endocannabinoid system: There are currently over 100 cannabinoids known to science in the cannabis plant. One of the best-studied cannabinoids is the CBD, which helps us naturally to reduce stress and relax.

Function of CB1 Receptors 

CB1 receptors were discovered in 1990 and are mainly located in the brain, more precisely in areas such as the hippocampus and the cerebellum. Other CB1 receptors are found in fatty tissue, the gastrointestinal tract and also in the muscles. The endocannabinoid anandamide is the natural ligand of the CB1 receptor: When the body produces anandamide, it binds to the CB1 receptor and thus influences the following processes:
  • the processing of our memory,
  • the regulation of pain sensation,
  • the motor control,
  • the sensation of joy and euphoria,
  • the blood circulation,
  • the mind

Function of CB2 Receptors 

The discovery of CB2 receptors followed in 1993. While CB1 receptors are mainly located in the brain, CB2 receptors are distributed throughout the body: They are found in the immune system, i.e. in the tonsils, spleen and white blood cells and in the gastrointestinal tract. CB2 receptors can also be found in the brain, but their number there is significantly lower than that of CB1 receptors.

CB2 receptors are activated in the body by the second endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonoglycerol (2-AG). The CB2 receptors are thought to be able to reduce inflammatory processes and pain sensation. Furthermore, activation of the CB2 receptor has a calming effect on us.

How do CBD, HTC and Other Hemp Components React with the Endocannabinoid System? 

According to the current state of research, the cannabinoids of the hemp plant react in different ways with our endocannabinoid system:

Vegetable cannabinoids bind to the receptors CB1 and CB2, influence the build-up and breakdown of the endogenous cannabinoids and furthermore they partly enhance or weaken each other in their effect. A rather complex effect!

The two most common herbal cannabinoids, THC and CBD, interact completely different with the components of ECS. This explains why THC has psychoactive effects on the body and why CBD does not have this effect.

In contrast to medicinal cannabis, the hemp plant contains almost no THC. You want to know more about the legal situation? Then this way: CBD legal position.


The Endocannabinoid System and CBD 

In contrast to most cannabinoids, CBD has only a low binding power to the ECS receptors CB1 and CB2 and tends to weaken the effects of other cannabinoids on these receptors. However, CBD acts via various other mechanisms: For example, CBD binds to the serotonin receptor and thus has a mood-lightening effect.

CBD also inhibits the enzymes that are responsible for the degradation of our endocannbinoids. Thus CBD increases e.g. the level of ananadamide in the body for a longer time. The special thing: Anandamide is one of the most important endocannabinoids in the human organism. CBD therefore supports the natural function of our endocannabinoid system. It is supported by the other valuable ingredients of the hemp plant, the terpenes.

Up to now, the manifold effects of CBD on our body have not yet been fully elucidated. But in our blog we will keep you informed about the latest research results.


The Endocannabinoid System and THC 

As said, the hemp plant contains only traces of THC, therefore we explain the effect of THC here only marginally.

THC, unlike CBD, binds to the CB1 receptor, which is mainly found in the brain. This explains its psychoactive effect. Psychoactive - that is. THC makes us "high". But since THC also has other positive effects, it is used in medicine, for example to treat severe pain.

In the case of over-the-counter products, such as food supplements, a psychoactive effect is naturally undesirable, so only hemp extracts that do not contain THC may be used for these products.