The Endocannabinoid System Explained
Ever wondered why CBD works so well for so many? The truth is, we all have what is known as an Endocannabinoid System (ECS) within our bodies – a biological network of receptors which help regulate numerous functions such as sleep, mood, pain and inflammation to name but a few.
Like other systems within our bodies, our endocannabinoid system can become depleted and need ‘supplemented’, as would an Iron or Vitamin D deficiency.
If you’re reading this then you’ve no doubt heard about CBD and one would assume that you want to know why CBD does what it does. Why you should be taking CBD as part of a varied and healthy lifestyle, first off let us look at the history of the ECS.
The history of the Endocannabinoid System
It all started with a scientific breakthrough in 1964 by Raphael Mechoulam who was able to identify & isolate Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for the first time which not long after was followed by the discovery of CBD – the second most prominent Cannabinoid found in the Cannabis Genus of plants.
Being able to isolate these cannabinoids for the first time was the first step in identifying and understanding the Endo-Cannabinoid System (ECS).
Fast forward to 1988 and the first cannabinoid receptors were found in the brain of rat by Allyn Howlett & William Devane and it turned out that there was an abundance of these receptors; in fact there were more than any other neurotransmitter receptor. This cannabinoid receptor was then called CB1 Receptors.
In 1993 a second cannabinoid receptor was located and obviously called CB2 Receptors. These CB2 Receptors were found, in abundance, in the gut, spleen, heart, liver, bones, blood vessels, lymph cells & the reproductive organs.
How your Endocannabinoid System works.
The human body wants to stay in balance, and it has many complex systems that work to keep that balance.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is one of the systems that helps keep things just right.
The ECS is common throughout the animal kingdom, and has three main components.
1. Cannabinoid Receptors
These receptors sit on the outside of your cells and listen to the conditions outside of the cell.
They tell the cell what’s going on and if something needs to be put back into balance.
Endocannabinoids are molecules that activate the receptors and give them information for the cell.
These molecules are like THC and CBD in that they activate these receptors, but the body makes them internally.
3. Metabolic Enzymes
These enzymes make sure that the endocannabinoids are destroyed after they’ve delivered their message.
These enzymes play a key role in making sure the ECS stays in balance.
The Endocannabinoid System in action.
If there are two cells listening and the first gets too “loud” the second knows it is out of balance.
To tell the first one that it needs to balance out, the second will send it endocannabinoids.
The Receptors on the first cell will activate and communicate the message from endocannabinoids to the cell.
The cell starts making the changes needed as long as the endocannabinoids are in place on the receptors.
The metabolic enzymes will then come and remove the endocannabinoids when the cell is balanced again.
This process ensures that all the cells in your body are regulating how they function so they can stay balanced.
THC and CBD Interactions
The reason THC gets you “high” but your endocannabinoids don’t is a simple one: The metabolic enzymes that destroy endocannabinoids, keeping things in balance, don’t recognize THC.
Because THC lingers in the system, the cells receptors are activated longer.
CBD inhibits the enzymes that break down endocannabinoids.
This changes how long the endocannabinoids are attached to the receptors communicating what’s needed.
The ECS is crucial in keeping many systems of the body in balance.
Understanding how it works and how outside agents interact with it is an ongoing process.
Have you thanked your ECS today?