Brief: The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a network of receptors and ligands that play a role in many physiological processes including pain perception, inflammation, appetite, and mood. The “cannabinoid” receptors in the brain — the CB1 receptors — outnumber many of the other receptor types on the brain. They act like traffic cops to control the levels and activity of most of the other neurotransmitters. This is how they regulate things: by immediate feedback, turning up or down the activity of whichever system needs to be adjusted, whether that is hunger, temperature, or alertness.
How The Endocannabinoid System Works
So, how does the endocannabinoid system work? Cannabinoid receptors are activated by two types of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids are produced naturally by the body, while phytocannabinoids are derived from plants (such as cannabis). When cannabinoid receptors are activated, they help to regulate various bodily functions. For example, endocannabinoids can help to reduce inflammation by suppressing the immune system. Phytocannabinoids, on the other hand, are known to interact with the endocannabinoid system in a variety of ways. For instance, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) — the main psychoactive compound in cannabis — is known to bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
This interaction can alter a person’s mood and consciousness. CBD (cannabidiol), another major compound found in cannabis, has also been shown to interact with the endocannabinoid system. Unlike THC, however,
CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects.
CBD is thought to work indirectly with cannabinoid receptors, rather than binding to them directly. CBD is also known to increase levels of endocannabinoids in the body, which can help to boost the endocannabinoid system’s overall activity.
The endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in maintaining homeostasis — the internal balance of our bodies. By helping to regulate various bodily functions, endocannabinoids keep our bodies in a state of equilibrium. When the endocannabinoid system is not functioning properly, it can lead to a variety of health issues.
For example, endocannabinoid deficiency has been linked to conditions such as migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia. By understanding how endocannabinoids work to maintain our health, we can begin to develop new treatments for a variety of conditions.
Cannabinoids and Your Health
So, what does all this mean for your health? Well, endocannabinoids are essential for maintaining a state of balance in the body.
Cannabinoids can help to regulate various bodily functions, including pain perception, inflammation, appetite, and mood. By understanding how endocannabinoids work, we can better harness the therapeutic potential of cannabis!
If you’re interested in learning more about cannabinoids and their role in health, check out our blog. We’ll be posting more articles about endocannabinoids and cannabinoids in the future, so stay tuned!