The endocannabinoid system is as complex as it is underused. Very. I believe it is an important place to start if you are like me and try to build a strong foundation when delving into a topic unknown, once you read this article you’ll begin to understand the significance of the eCs to many areas of human health.
To get down to it, the eCs is a very complex system within your body that has only come into the limelight in recent years despite being first spoken about a full 35 years ago. The main function of the eCs is too regulate our body functions and to maintain a state of balance: Homoeostasis, which is defined as the tendency towards a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements. The interdependent elements are the various organs of your body and balance between them means good health. The eCs is comprised of endocannabinoids, endocannabinoid receptors and enzymes. It is also influenced by phytocannabinoids.
There are enzymes that are responsible for degrading endocannabinoids to allow them to bind to the receptors, the two most understood of these are monoglyceride lipase (MAGL) which degrades endocannabinoids such as arachidonoylglycerol, more easily referred to as 2-AG and amide hydrolase (FAAH) which degrades Anandamide, the bliss molecule.
At the very beginning of this article I mentioned Homoeostasis as being the responsibility of the eCs system, without a kickstart the system is powerless and could explain the plethora of modern day health issues. Endocannabinoid levels may be responsible for the base line of pain throughout the body.
This is why medicine made with endocannabinoids could be used for treating conditions such as;
- Muscle tightness
- Neuropathic pain
- Baseline appetite
The receptorsThey are scattered around the body and there are two main types. CB1 and CB2 receptors that are responsible for different things. To use the brain as an example, there is a labyrinth of CB1 receptors that are responsible for modulating the release of both inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters across the synapse, except, the brain stem (CB2) which is responsible for respiration and circulatory matters. CB2 receptors are mainly found on white blood cells. The eCs system performs different tasks depending on where it is in the body. Here’s a list:
- Brain: CB1 & CB2
- Vascular system: CB1
- Liver: CB1
- Immune system: CB2
- Colon: CB2
- Spleen: CB2
- Pancreas: CB1 & CB2
- Reproductive Organs: CB1
- Muscles: CB1
- Bones: CB2
The eCs purpose is to respond to cannabinoids produced within the body known as endocannabinoid. The most understood of these are called Anandamide (the ‘Bliss’ molecule) and arachidonoylglycerol, 2-AG as referred to in the section on enzymes.Anandamide engages with our CB1 receptors to make us feel blissful and 2-AG is responsible for engaging our CB2 receptors All endocannabinoids are derivatives of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Now I am sure you will be wondering about THC and CBD and where they come into it. THC and CBD are both phytocannabinoids, more commonly referred to as cannabinoids. They mimic endocannabinoids in binding to CB1 receptors. CBD engages with CB1 receptors receptors and help our body start producing more of our own endocannabinoids, Anandamide and 2-AG. With THC and CBD being only two of the 113 active cannabinoids which as of yet have secrets locked up. With countless companies and big people in the cannabis movement there are many more advancements yet to come.
I hope this makes some sense to you, a complex topic but one worth understanding. I sincerely hope you go on to research further and keep up to date as the field evolves and the truth grows. That simple truth is there is a system in our body which could very well reverse many of the physical and mental health issues we have today. Engage your endocannabinoid system today!