The endocannabinoid system includes a complex network of receptors spread across our bodies. These receptors are predominantly found in the:
- Gastrointestinal tract
- Immune system
Cannabis’s purported benefits are widely linked to the endocannabinoid system. Cannabis contains certain compounds that bind with the endocannabinoid system, and modulate several body functions to create the reported effects.
The number of receptors vary across different users. So, the same dosage of a strain can create different effects among two users.The endocannabinoid system is responsible for keeping the body in balance, called homeostasis.
Most diseases and illnesses are caused by homeostasis failure. For instance, if you feel pains, your body is off balance.But where did it all come from?
Endocannabinoid – a quick history
Cannabinoid receptors were first discovered in 1988. Called CB1, it predominantly exists in the brain.Researchers found another cannabinoid receptor, the CB2, in 1993. The CB2 receptor was found in the spleen, gut, heart, kidney, liver, blood vessels, bones, eproductive organs, and lymph cells.
However, one question that lingered without an answer from research authors is “why cannabis receptors?”
The answer came in 1992 when scientists saw the first internally-occurring cannabinoids. The cannabinoid was called “anandamide”—Ananda, meaning bliss and joy in Sanskrit.The anandamide binds to the receptors as tetrahydrocannabinol from the marijuana plant.
Another endocannabinoid was found in 1995 named the 2-AG (2-arachidonoylglycerol. The cannabinoid interacts with both the CB1 receptors and the CB2 receptors.This series of discoveries gave scientists a clue to trace THC metabolic pathway. This exposed a NEW molecular system in humans, called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
The Endocannabinoid System – How it works?
To properly understand how the ECS works, you need first to understand the difference between phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids.Phytocannabinoids. Phyto refers to plant. Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids that occur in plants. Among over a hundred, CBD and THC are the most popular phytocannabinoids in cannabis.
Endocannabinoids. Endo means internal. Hence, endocannabinoid refers to the cannabinoids that occur in the body. 2-AG and anandamide are the two most-known endocannabinoids.Without many technicalities, ECS releases endocannabinoids when the body loses balance. The internally-produced cannabinoids bind to the receptors in hyperactive areas and cause calm.
For instance, if you feel pain, neurons send pain signals to the brain. The endocannabinoid can bind to the affected neuron and send a counter signal to ceases delivering or sending signals from fellow neurons. By this, fewer pain signals are delivered to the brain.Anxiety, stress, and related neurological issues are a product of hyperactive neurons and low endocannabinoid production. Also, when released, the endocannabinoid binds to the receptors on the neurons and calm them down.
Functions of the endocannabinoid system
The ECS remains complicated.Besides what’s already known, researchers perceive theirs a lot more to know about how exactly the ECS works.
Some studies have created a connection between ECS and:
- Digestion and appetite
- Motor control
- Memory and learning
- Chronic pain
- Reproductive system function
- Liver function
- Muscle formation
- Bone growth and remodeling
- Cardiovascular system function
- Nerve and skin function
Collectively, these functions determine the body’s homeostasis.
THC interaction with the endocannabinoid
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most occurring compound found in cannabis and it’s responsible for the high associated with cannabis.After consuming THC, the compound works in the ECS by interacting with the receptors, the same way internally-generated cannabinoids do. THC’s potency is widely tied to its ability to bind to both the CB1 receptors and the CB2.
This way, THC delivers a wide range of effects on the mind and body – some pleasant, others not so desirable.For instance, while THC’s pain-reduction and appetite-stimulating properties are widely desirable, anxiety and paranoia attributes are commonly dreaded.Interestingly, experts are presently seeking ways to create synthetic THC that delivers only healthy befits.
CBD and the ECS
CBD is the next most common cannabinoid – after THC. But while THC will leave you stoned, CBD causes no high and more so, with negligible or zero effects.Professionals are yet to make clear, conclusive statements on CBD’s interaction with the Endocannabinoid system. However, they’ve been able to establish that CBD binds to the receptors differently from THC.
Some proponents say CBD works by preventing the breakdown of endocannabinoids. By this, the internally produced cannabinoids have better effects on the body. For others, CBD interacts with a receptor that is yet undiscovered.Although the actual working of CBD and the endocannabinoid is still under research, so far, CBD is thought to manage nausea, pain, and other common
Medical cannabis and the endocannabinoid system
When there’s endocannabinoid deficiency, medical cannabis come in handy. Cannabis’s phytocannabinoids can serve as a supplement to ensure an adequate supply of cannabinoids, bringing the body to homeostasis.Endocannabinoid deficiency may cause several diseases and symptoms, including fibromyalgia, migraines, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, depression – to mention a few.
If you wish to try out cannabis? Visit a cannabis shop near you or checkup online cannabis stores for a wider range of cannabis products.