Your endocannabinoid system is a crucial part of your body’s ability to function normally
We all know that cannabis products can have physiological impacts on our bodies. But do you know why? It’s because of your endocannabinoid system (ECS). When you ingest cannabis products, chemicals react with your ECS accordingly and can have a wide range of effects. Here’s what you need to know about what this system is and how it works.
What is the endocannabinoid system?
Your ECS on its own really has nothing to do with cannabis. Its name came about when scientists discovered it while researching marijuana.
The ECS is a biochemical communication system within your body. It regulates important aspects of our daily well-being, like our mood.
The CB1 receptors are located in the central nervous system, and the CB2 receptors are in the peripheral nervous system, digestive system, and immune system.
Cannabinoids, which are compounds found in cannabis, change the way your body’s physiological systems work. They trigger receptors, moderating the way we experience things.
Two cannabinoids from the plant that you’ve probably heard of are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabidiol (CBD).
But there are actually over a hundred cannabinoids in hemp including cannabichromene (CBC), cannabidivarin (CBDV), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabigerol (CBG). There are endogenous (internally created) cannabinoids, or endocannabinoids, within our bodies, in addition to those that the plant cannabis produces.
How the ECS works
This ECS is made up of endocannabinoids, nervous system receptors, and enzymes. The endocannabinoids throughout your body bond with the receptors in the nervous system and enzymes then help to break them down.
What does that mean, exactly?
It’s important to understand the body’s process of homeostasis to explain how the ECS operates and affects you.
Homeostasis keeps everything stable and functioning within your body. This process monitors your environment and ensures that all of your levels are where they should be; things like temperature, hormone levels, and heart rate.
When your body is not functioning properly, your ECS kicks in. This system corrects your levels to help stabilize you.
There are two types of cannabinoid receptors in our bodies: CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptors are located in the central nervous system is your brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral is the nerve network throughout your body that is connected to the brain and spinal cord.
These receptors regulate many important bodily functions, including our appetite, mood, sleep, memory, pain, and pleasure.
As you can see, the ECS is a necessary and natural part of your body. And, it’s the reason that you experience certain side effects when you introduce THC and CBD into your body.
What role does the ECS play?
If you ingest cannabis products in some form, you are taking cannabinoids into your body that have varying degrees of physiological effects.
For example, if you smoke marijuana, THC enters the ECS and attaches to receptors. This can actually interfere with the way your body naturally creates a balance between communicating neurons. This process creates those reactions to ingesting THC, such as slowing reaction time, impacting memory, increasing anxiety, or altering judgment.
Because these products stimulate the ECS, researchers continue to look into relief options and medications that include CBD. Some also say that a combination of THC and CBD is the way to go for pharmaceutical development.