The endocannabinoid system and the human body

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) of our body regulates essential functions, such as blood pressure, body temperature, respiratory rate and glucose levels. Cells of one organism only have a correct functioning within a range of conditions of temperature, pH, accessibility, nutrients, etc., and must survive in a medium in which these parameters are altered every day. The organisms need these mechanisms to maintain their internal environment stable despite changes in the internal or external environment, so homeostasis is one of the most important factors. The ECS, present in all humans and animals, except in insects, affects all physiological processes, such as the sensation of pain, stress, stress, immune function or sleep.

The ECS is a neurotransmission system that is found in different areas and tissues. It consists of a series of cannabinoid and endocannabinoid receptors, which interact. These cannabinoid receptors are found in the brain, organs, tissues, glands and immune cells. In each region, the ECS performs different tasks, but the result is always the same: homeostasis or balance, maintaining a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.


Different types of receptors

The ECS was discovered in the 90’s, while researchers were studying the effects of cannabis and cannabinoids on the body, specifically the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Two major cannabinoid receptors were discovered, CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are keyed to both the endocannabinoids that our body naturally produces and phytocannabinoids like THC and Cannabidiol (CBD). A scientist discovered that our bodies not only have receptor for cannabinoids but that our bodies actually produce them internally.

  • CB1 receptors are concentrated primarily in the brain (in regions responsible for mental and physiological processes: memory, cognition, motor coordination, movement, appetite, perception of pain and emotions). The THC is specifically keyed to the CB1 site, and works moderating pain.
  • CB2 receptor are concentrated in the immune system and the nervous system, but also present in the gut, spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, bones, blood vessels, lymph cells, endocrine glands and reproductive organs. The CBD is specifically keyed to CB2, and works as an anti-inflammatory agent.

The CB receptor also regulates the brain cell growth and stem cell migration.


The endocannabinoids

The two main endocannabinoids involved in ECS are produced when neurons need them. To give an example, after a head injury or a stroke, neuropathic pain may appear. It is really difficult to deal with conventional pharmaceutical products. Glutamate is one of the main neurotransmitters, but when it is present in excessive concentrations, it perpetuates the pain and can even cause cell death. Endocannabinoids are secreted naturally after these events and act to inhibit the release of glutamate, thereby relieving pain and reducing cell death. THC and CBD act similarly and have similar neuroprotective benefits.

Endocannabinoids are also found at the intersection of various body systems, allowing communication and coordination between different types of cells, including immune cells, nerve cells and all organs of the body.

The third aspect of the ECS, after its receptors and the endocannabinoids, are the biosynthetic and degradative enzymes that respectively produce or decompose AEA and 2-AG. Interestingly, CBD, among its many activities, is able to inhibit the degradation of AEA, strengthening and prolonging its effects. This can be important to maintain an ECS that does not work.

Understanding the role of ECS makes it easy to see why Cannabis has such a prolific effect on the human body. The basic functions of the ECS were summarized very effectively by Dr. Di Marzo at the end of the 90s, “relax, eat, sleep, forget and protect”. Stimulating the ECS daily is an easy way to ensure that you are healthy and that your body is in balance.