What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
While most people consume cannabis because of its psychoactive effects, others look for symptomatic relief. Neither of those things would be possible if our bodies naturally did not contain a system that is capable of reacting to certain cannabinoids, like CBD and THC. This system is called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), and it’s located within every mammal on earth’s central nervous system.
What the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) consists of, and why it’s important.
The ECS is made up of enzymes (proteins), endocannabinoids, and cannabinoid receptors named CB1/CB2. The cannabinoid receptors,CB1 and CB2, are what makes the ECS capable of experiencing the effects of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. The receptors also produce endocannabinoids like Anandamide and 2-AG. These two endocannabinoids are always being naturally produced by the human body, signaling to other cells and parts of the body when something is out of tune. CB1 receptors are located in the brain and within the nerves of our spinal cord, dealing directly with the central nervous system. CB2 receptors are located in the nerves of our extremities (legs, intestines, etc.), which deals with the digestive system, reproductive system, etc. If it were not for the help of enzymes, specifically FAAH and MAGL, that accelerate the chemical reactions within CB1 and CB2 receptors for these endocannabinoids and cannabinoids, we would not be able to rely on our ECS to get the effects of cannabis, or to help us naturally reach homeostasis: a balanced state.
When our body's temperature rises or falls, or its regular functions stop operating normally, it naturally activates the ECS to help correct it.
Example: My stomach would not stop growling, because my ECS is telling me to eat.
The ECS works to regulate most bodily functions including:
- Temperature Regulation
Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD): How Do I Take Care of My ECS?
The ECS activates itself with precision so that it only impacts what it needs to, meaning if your digestive system is out of sorts, it will work to regulate that without altering any other bodily systems. But what if it stopped? As we learn more about cannabis and how the human mind and body reacts to it, it has also been discovered that there are several conditions, such as migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia, related to the dysregulation of the system, this is called Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD). Cannabis products that contain THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids are being researched as treatments to CECD and potentially many other conditions that involve the ECS. Today, we are reluctant to find most of these products being put to use for epilepsy, acne, asthma, pain, inflammation, and others by pediatricians and doctors across the globe.
Delwo, Adrienne. “What Is the Endocannabinoid System?” Verywellhealth.Com, Dotdash, 1 July 2018, www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-the-endocannabinoid-system-4171855.
Rahn, Bailey. “Cannabinoids 101: What Makes Cannabis Medicine?” Leafly, Leafly Holdings Inc., 28 July 2020, www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/cannabinoids-101-what-makes-cannabis-medicine.