The Endocannabinoid System – An Overview
“Relax, eat, sleep, protect, forget, balance.”
In the early 1990s, researchers discovered that we have an internal neuromodulatory signaling system designed to make and use cannabinoids. Called the endocannabinoid system (or ECS), it uses both endocannabinoids (the cannabinoids our bodies make) and plant-based cannabinoids (like those found in cannabis).
The endocannabinoid system appears to regulate everything from mood to appetite to pain perception to immune function to bone mass to hormonal regulation to cardiovascular activity to metabolism control – even cell life and death cycles.
How does the endocannabinoid system work?
There are thousands of published, peer-reviewed studies on the endocannabinoid system. It has been attracting the interest of pharmaceutical drug development and research since its discovery over two decades ago.
The ECS is made up of endocannabinoids, enzymes that synthesize/break them down, and receptor sites on cells throughout the body.
There are two major cannabinoid receptors on your cells; they are called CB-1 and CB-2. While CB receptors are found throughout the human body, CB-1 receptors are most prevalent on cells in the central nervous system. CB-1 receptors are favored by THC, which is why recreational cannabis users get a “high” feeling.
CB-2 receptors are found mostly on cells in the enteric nervous system; that is, the immune system. CBD appears to have an affinity for CB-2 receptors, but doesn’t seem to “dock” at them. Instead, CBD appears to modulate both CB receptors, but its exact mechanisms of action are unknown as of this writing. Sometimes it appears to block the action of THC (which is why CBD is sometimes called “anti-THC”) and sometimes CBD seems to modulate the CB-2 receptor. This is why CBD is being studied for a variety of applications – it exhibits significant versatility.
CBD and THC aren’t the only chemicals that the endocannabinoid system uses. There are at least eighty plant cannabinoids, several endocannabinoids (the cannabinoids all mammals make in their bodies), and some other compounds – like omega fatty acids – that appear to interact with cannabinoid receptors in different ways.
Emerging research. Researchers are just now learning how cannabinoids and other compounds work to affect the endocannabinoid system. Hopefully, they will be able to uncover how substances that affect the endocannabinoid system may be used therapeutically.
Overall, research indicates the endocannabinoid system seems to have a very “protective” role in our bodies. In fact, the most important thing that the endocannabinoid system wants to protect is homeostasis – that is, making sure the body is running optimally at all times.
Some researchers have proposed an “endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome,” a syndrome in which the body doesn’t make enough endocannabinoids. This research speculates that a cannabinoid deficiency may be at the root of autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and more.
In summary: As a company, Medical Marijuana Inc. supports fully supports endocannabinoid system research. If research continues to progress in the direction it has up to this point, it may be discovered that the endocannabinoid system is a cornerstone for overall human wellbeing, and supplementing the ECS could become the new key component of a cannabis read full article