What Is the Endocannabinoid System?
Biologically, the concept of homeostasis is fundamental. It represents the steady and optimal conditions in which organisms need to be in to survive and thrive. The human endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in keeping our homeostasis stable.
But there is still so much that’s unknown about the ECS system, which has been a subject of much research for the last 30 years. In this article, we’ll cover the basic principles of the endocannabinoid system, how it relates to CBD and THC, and what other roles it has the potential to play in the human body.
Endocannabinoid System Explained
One of the first things you might find unusual about the endocannabinoid system is its name. This cell-signalling system was discovered and identified in the early 1990s, when a group of scientists were researching the effects of THC.
The Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is a well-known compound of the plant Cannabis Sativa. Unlike CBD, which is also a cannabinoid found in cannabis, it contains the psychoactive effect that causes the “high” feeling in the body?
Scientists believe that the endocannabinoid system is one of the most essential physiologic systems responsible for maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids are located all over the human body, including the brain, glands, immune cells, connective tissues, and other organs. However, the ECS system performs different tasks in each one with the same goal overall – homeostasis.
The cannabinoids are important for the promotion of biological life, starting at the sub-cellular level. Another way to interpret the role of the endocannabinoid system is to understand it as a type of bridge between the mind and body.
It’s there to minimise the damage your body may suffer due to an injury or illness. And it’s also there to reduce pain.
However, the endocannabinoid system serves a purpose even more significant than regulating homeostasis. It extends to the outside environment. This refers to human recreational use of cannabinoids CBD and THC, which is often related to social behaviour.
Does the Human Body Produce Cannabinoids?
The endocannabinoid system and CBD are often heard in the same sentence. And that’s because our general knowledge regarding the ECS system has also involved CBD research. But before we further explore the importance of the endocannabinoid system, it’s essential to point out one crucial fact.
The endogenous cannabinoids that the human body can produce are natural equivalents of the compounds found in the cannabis Sativa plant.
These human-produced cannabinoids are the reason our bodies have so much potential when interacting with the cannabis plant and why CBD and THC show a lot of effectiveness in medicine.
Endocannabinoid System Receptors
Endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids can be found in human body molecules. There are two different types of endocannabinoids, the anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG).
But these endocannabinoids require receptors to bind them and signal the endocannabinoid system to perform an action. The science of endocannabinoid system receptors is still relatively new, and there is a lot that’s still unknown.
However, the human body has two primary endocannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. The first, CB1 is generally only found in the central nervous system. And CB2 is located all over the peripheral nervous system and is in charge of regulating immune cells.
When stimulated, these receptors can become a part of many different physiological processes. For example, in the case of back pain, the endocannabinoids will stimulate CB1 in the spinal nerve to reduce the pain.
Endocannabinoid System and THC
One of the main subjects of research regarding endocannabinoid system is how it relates to THC found in cannabis. As expected, the THC binds with the ECS receptors just like your own endocannabinoids do.
THC can bind with both CB1 and CB2 receptors and have a wide range of potential effects on your body. For some, THC will provide only beneficial impacts, such as pain reduction or fixing insomnia issues.
But for others, that might mean that the feeling of “high” might lead to paranoia and anxiety. The goal of the research is to find a way to create a THC compound that will produce positive effects only.
Endocannabinoid System and CBD
The other well-known cannabis-derivate is CBD. This lacks the potential to create a feeling of “high” in your body, but it still has some amazing benefits.
While there are still a lot that experts don’t know regarding CBD and ECS system, one thing is clear – it doesn’t connect to the endocannabinoid receptors the same way that THC does.
There are some suggestions that CBD helps prevent endocannabinoids from breaking down, and that’s what affects the body positively. Another theory suggests that there may be another receptor that is yet to be discovered.
What Is Endocannabinoid Deficiency?
During the research on ECS, a theory of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome or CECD was proposed. The general idea behind this theory is that some people have lower levels of endocannabinoids in their body.
This then leads to a health problem and prevents the ECS from functioning properly, resulting in problems, such as migraine, IBS, and fibromyalgia. However, extensive research is still required in this area.
Benefits of CBD and THC for Endocannabinoid System
The potential benefits of CBD and THC are what led to more in-depth analysis of this physiological system in the human body. And that’s why the research is still ongoing.
And while neither CBD nor THC should be consumed without checking with a medical expert first, significant strides have been made in proving their benefits for overall health.
Both CBD and THC can help treat and manage similar conditions and symptoms, including pain, inflammation, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and many others.
They’re also used in the treatment of skin conditions, joint damage, and nausea. But it’s essential to keep in mind that THC comes with the added “euphoric” effect too. Plus, CBD is the only product that’s completely legal.
The Balancing Act of the Endocannabinoid System
For many, the discovery of CBD and THC and their positive impact on overall health has been nothing short of amazing. That is why the efforts to learn more about these compounds are prevalent in the science community today.
To understand the ECS system involves knowing that human homeostasis is compatible with the two most well-known cannabinoids. Our central and peripheral nervous systems play the most important role in the stable functioning of almost every organ. And learning more about how to stimulate endocannabinoid system receptors using CBD and THC without any side effects is going to continue to be one of the most relevant subjects of scientific research for future years.