Endocannabinoid System Explained:
The endogenous cannabinoid system is part of the human nervous system, it is also known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Endogenous cannabinoids are part of the ECS, they attach to various receptors in the body. These receptors can be found in numerous locations, such as the nervous, respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems.
What Does the Endocannabinoid System Do?
The system is responsible for regulating different processes in our body, and therefore has a large influence on the mood, appetite, memory, and inflammatory processes within out body. The system keeps our body in a healthy balance using the cannabinoids that attach to certain receptors, such as the CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptors help with memory processing and pain regulation and the CB2 act on the immune system for example.
These effects can be mocked or enhanced by plant cannabinoids, as they occur in the hemp plant.
The system was discovered at the National Institute of Mental Health in 1922. It has only been discovered after the exposition of the effect of exogenous cannabinoids, which are the active ingredients of the hemp plant. An international group of scientists have discovered the body’s own cannabinoids, that have similar effects. Although extensive research has occurred in the past years, the scientists are still a long way from being able to understand the complex system.
The endocannabinoid system is a very complex system that is made up of receptors, endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids, and enzymes which build up or break down the cannabinoids.
In response to different stimuli, endocannabinoids are formed by the cells in our body. By attaching to and activating the cannabinoid receptors, they fulfill their role. The endocannabinoids are broken down again by the body after they have done their job. This helps the body to respond rapidly to stimuli and adapt the endocannabinoid system’s effects to the body’s needs.
The most important endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-arachidonoglycerol (2-AG for short).They bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors and trigger a reaction in the corresponding cells. Someactivities have an effect onour endocannabinoid levels. For example, our body produces more endocannabinoids when wejog.Making us feel good during activities.
The control of the endocannabinoid system usually operates without external stimuli through our endogenous cannabinoids. The herbal cannabinoids that sustain the endocannabinoid system can also cause a reaction within our body, the cannabis plant for example. There are currently over 100 cannabinoids identified to science. CBD, which naturally allows us to relieve stress and to relax, is one of the best studied cannabinoids.
CB1 and CB2 Receptors
The CB1 receptors can mainly be found in the brain, in areas such as the hippocampus and the cerebellum. Other CB1 receptors are located in the fatty tissue, the gastrointestinal tract and also in muscles. Anandamide is a natural ligand of the CB1 receptors, when it is produced, it binds to the CB1 receptors and has an effect on these processes:
- Memory processing
- Regulation of pain sensation
- Motor control
- Joy and euphoria
- Blood circulation
CB2 receptors are located all around the body and can be found in the immune system (e.g., the tonsils, spleen, and white blood cells) as well as the gastrointestinal tract. Some can also be found in the brain, however due to the high number of CB1 cells, the CB2 cells are significantly lower. CB2 receptors are activated in the body by the second endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonoglycerol (2-AG).The CB2 cells mainly reduce inflammatory processes and pain sensation, they can also have a calming effect on us.
The reaction between CBD and THC, and our Endocannabinoid System
There is still extensive research that needs to be conducted on the reactions of the plant without endocannabinoid system. However, it has been found that the hemp plant reacts with it in different ways.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
CBD doesn’t not have a high binding power to the ECS receptors and has a weakening effect of cannabinoids on these receptors. Nevertheless, CBD can act through different mechanisms, such as binding to the serotonin receptor and having a positive effect on the mood.
CBD has the effect of inhibiting the enzymes that are responsible for the degradation of our endocannabinoids, increasing the level of anandamide in our body for longer for example. Anandamide is one of the most important endocannabinoids in the body and CBD, therefore, has a natural supporting effect of the function of our ECS.
THC and the Endocannabinoid System
THC binds to the CB1 receptors, mainly located in the brain. Therefore, it is said that THC has a psychoactive effect, there making us “high”. However, it is also found that THC has other positive effects, that explains its use in medicine, for severe pain for example.
However, in cases of food supplements, the psychoactive effect is unwanted, therefore hemp extracts without THC are used for these products.