What is the Endocannabinoid System?

Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

Human and animal bodies contain a system of cell receptors and molecules called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and it responds to certain compounds like THC & CBD. Endo means within, and cannabinoid refers to a compound that fits into cannabinoid receptors.

The ECS was only discovered about 20 years ago by an Israeli researcher, Raphael Mechoulam. This was the same researcher who also identified THC as being the main active ingredient in cannabis in the 1960’s.

The ECS helps regulate:

  • Sleep

  • Appitite, Digestion, Hunger

  • Mood

  • Motor Control

  • Immune Function

  • Reproduction and Fertility

  • Pleasure and Reward

  • Pain

  • Memory

  • Temperature Regulation

The ECS helps maintain optimal balance in the body, known as homeostasis.

The three key components of the ECS are:

  • Cannabinoid receptors found on the surface of cells (CB1 & CB2).

  • Endocannabinoids, small molecules that activate cannabinoid receptors. They’re like the body’s naturally occurring THC.

  • Metabolic enzymes that break down endocannabinoids after they are used.

CB1 receptors mainly found in the Brain, Central Nervous System, Glands, Connective Tissue, and Gonads.

CB2 receptors mainly found in the Immune System and related organs (spleen, tonsils, skin, thymus gland).

THC attaches to endocannabinoid receptor sites directly, specifically CB1 receptors.

CBD does not attach itself to receptors, but rather interacts with neurotransmitters in the brain that are associated with pain.

Marinol, which is synthetic (man-made) cannabis, can attach to the receptor sites, however, it does not work nearly as effectively as natural cannabis.

An ECS deficiency can result in a number of different ailments, including:

  • Migraines

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Fibromyalgia

Your ECS can be boosted to properly functioning levels by ingesting cannabis in any form, and also:

  • Eating the following foods and supplements can also enhance your ECS: dark chocolate, chia, flax and hemp seeds, Omega-3 fatty acids, leafy greens, echinacea, oregano and black pepper.

  • Exercising can also help keep the ECS healthy and strong. It’s not endorphins that get activated, but rather an increase in endocannabinoid production.