The Endocannabinoid System
In our previous articles, we have often mentioned the endocannabinoid system. Now, it’s time to dive deeper into this topic. Let’s find out what this system is, its importance to our bodies and minds as well as how it is connected to CBD and THC.
What is the endocannabinoid system?
The endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short, is a network of components in the human body that plays an important role in our internal biological system. It is responsible for regulating and balancing (homeostasis) the body’s response to certain triggers. For example, it affects appetite, metabolism, immune system changes, cellular communication and much more. The ECS also play a role in the effects that cannabis produces. It is through this network that the active ingredients in the plant, known as cannabinoids, interact with the body’s biological system.
The components of the endocannabinoid system
The endocannabinoid system comprises three major segments that we have outlined below:
- Cannabinoid receptors (such as CB1R, CB2R) — elements that translate and relay information to the cells.
- Endocannabinoids (such as AEA, 2-AG) — endogenous ligands, which are small lipid retrograde neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors and stimulate them.
- Enzymes (such as FAAH, MAGL) — they break down endocannabinoids after they have been used.
How does it function?
The endocannabinoid system influences a number of important processes in our bodies. The range of these is wide: from cognition, memory and mood to appetite and sensory functions. In addition to regulating these processes, it also influences the body’s physiological response to disease. On the other hand, when the system is out of balance, it can be associated with various disorders.
The endocannabinoid system and CBD
First of all, let’s talk about the elements known as phytocannabinoids. These are cannabinoids that are extracted from plants, namely cannabis. The two main types of phytocannabinoids identified so far are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Both types interact differently with the endocannabinoid system, especially with the CB receptors. THC primarily affects CB1 receptors located predominantly in the brain and nervous system, while CBD interacts more readily with CB2 receptors found in the body’s immune system. We remind you that, unlike THC, CBD will not get you high because it has no or low tetrahydrocannabinol content.
What are the effects of these interactions? Some studies show the potential benefits of cannabinoids in the body as evidenced in the treatment of various diseases such as those of energy metabolism, and disorders of the cardiovascular, respiratory and central nervous systems. Another study showed that phytocannabinoids may have anti-inflammatory activities. However, keep in mind that there is a need for more research on the endocannabinoid system in general and phytocannabinoids’ interaction with it in particular.
A topic such as the endocannabinoid system is complex, however, we have shown you the basic information about its structure, interactions of THC and CBD with it, and the potential therapeutic effects of phytocannabinoids. Hopefully, new studies will raise more awareness and recognition of the CBD industry. Don’t miss the updates on our blog and contact us if you have any questions about CBD or CBD-related topics.