What is the Endocannabinoid System 

Researchers conducting studies on the effects of cannabis on the human body probably did not expect the scale of discovery that has been made in this way. The research confirmed the presence of the endocannabinoid system in our body, which is activated under the influence of cannabinoids produced by our body and those supplied from the outside (mainly from cannabis). Find out what a cannabinoid system is, get to know it and read what effect its discovery has on our health.At the very beginning of the discussion on the cannabinoid system, it should be noted that science still did not discover all its properties. Intensive research has, however, established some undeniable facts about the effects of cannabinoids on the human body. It is undeniable that there are cannabinoid receptors in the human body and that our body produces specific molecules that stimulate the previously mentioned receptors for specific reactions. These reactions can be known to us, such as:

Much like a daily vitamin, CBD, one of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, supplements the Endocannabinoid System.Researchers have proven that the endocannabinoid system has stimulating and regulating properties for individual processes and activities in our body.


History of the Endocannabinoid System

In 1988, the first cannabinoid receptor was found in the brain of a rat.

The team of researchers discovered that these receptors interacted exclusively with receptors found in the Cannabis compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). What was even more surprising is that the receptors were found concentrated in parts of the brain responsible for mental and physiological processes (ie. memory, high cognition, emotion, and motor coordination).

Five years later, in 1993, a second cannabinoid receptor was identified. This receptor was distributed throughout the immune system and peripheral tissues of the body and exhibited the same reaction to THC as the first receptor.

It was then that researchers realized they were onto something big…Just two years later, in 1995, researchers discovered that the two receptors―now deemed the CB1 and CB2 receptors―were found not only in rats, but within thousands of other species―including humans.

Upon the discovery of the first endocannabinoid receptor, scientists were forced to ask the question “If our bodies possess such a receptor, do we naturally produce a cannabinoid that fits this receptor as well?” This sparked the discovery of Anandamide or AEA, and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol or 2-AG, our bodies natural endocannabinoids.

Anandamide – stemming from the word Ananda, meaning “joy” or “bliss” – is the neurotransmitter which acts as our bodies natural version of THC, yet has a much shorter effect in the body than THC.

Anandamide acts on both CB1 and CB2 receptors and is chiefly responsible for our feelings of “happiness” – however, it also plays a role in memory, motivation, movement control, appetite, and pain perception.

Our bodies produce an enzyme called FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) which actively breaks down anandamide; meaning any excess that is not immediately used by our receptors is destroyed. This is where CBD becomes truly interesting because it inhibits this breakdown of anandamide – in other words – CBD promotes our bodies to benefit from their own endocannabinoids.

Phytocannabinoids (Naturally Produced by Cannabis Plants)
THC has a strong binding affinity for CB1 receptors that exist in high numbers throughout the brain and central nervous system. CB1 receptors are responsible for mediating the psychoactive effects of THC.

CBD has a lower binding affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors that exist in peripheral tissues, however, CBD offers most of its therapeutic benefits through indirect actions rather than binding to cannabinoid receptors.

One of the most important ways it acts indirectly is by inhibiting the FAAH enzyme from breaking down anandamide (our bodies natural endocannabinoid). This means anandamide can persist in the body longer, where it may continue regulating homeostasis and providing a boost to our mood. CBD also indirectly activates many other receptors, which are involved in regulating pain, body temperature and inflammation.

Although we mentioned CBD has a low binding affinity for receptors in peripheral organs, it does act as an antagonist for CB1 receptors in the brain. This means it fights with THC to block the receptor, without activating the receptor itself. This is why we experience less psychoactivity from products containing a blend of THC and CBD, due to CBD’s ability to take over CB1 receptors and bump THC out.

In the long run, scientists are developing ways to target specific cannabinoid receptors in localized areas of the body or brain without triggering the body’s entire endocannabinoid system. This will be especially effective for people suffering from very specific ECS disorders and who need more than a holistic approach.

An alternative solution to dosing with phytocannabinoids is to boost your body’s natural production of endocannabinoids. This way, your body can deliver eCBs to the parts of your body that need them the most.