The discovery of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and advent of CBD has been revolutionary. The ECS is a sophisticated cell signalling system uncovered in the 1990s by researchers who were exploring a well-known cannabinoid, Tetrahydrocannibinol (THC). Cannabinoids are compounds found in the cannabis plant.
Researchers are continuing to further understand the full working of the ECS; however, we do know it plays a part in regulating:
- reproduction and fertility
We also know the ECS is naturally functioning in your body, even if you don’t use cannabinoids.
How does the ECS work?
The ECS consists of three fundamental elements:
- receptors and
Endocannabinoids, also called endogenous cannabinoids, are molecules made by your body, similar to phytocannabinoids.
Researchers have identified two key endocannabinoids so far:
- Anandamide (AEA)
- 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG)
These facilitate the smooth running of internal functions. Cleverly your body generates them as needed.
These receptors are found throughout your body. Endocannabinoids bind to them in order to signal that the ECS needs to take action.
There are two main endocannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 receptors, which are mostly found in the central nervous system
- CB2 receptors, which are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells
Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor. The results depend on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid it binds to.
Enzymes are accountable for breaking down endocannabinoids once they have performed their function.
There are two main enzymes responsible for this:
- fatty acid amide hydrolase, which breaks down AEA
- monoacylglycerol acid lipase, which typically breaks down 2-AG
What are its functions?
The ECS is a very complex biological system, and researchers have not yet verified exactly how it works or all of its potential functions.
Research has linked the ECS to the following systems:
- appetite and digestion
- chronic pain
- inflammation and other immune system responses
- learning and memory
- cardiovascular system function
- bone remodelling and growth
- sexual and reproductive system
We would encourage you to have a read of the scientific journals and explore the incredible human biology of the ECS for yourself. Knowledge is power!