What is the Endocannabinoid System and how does it work?
In the 1990’s scientists discovered that all vertebrates, including mammals, have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS acts as a messaging system between all organs and systems in your body. When your ECS is working properly, it promotes homeostasis (stability of your internal environment).
Since its discovery, scientists have identified two cannabinoid receptors located throughout the human body. These receptors are called CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are located in the central nervous system while CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system (gastric system, skin, liver, heart, and other organs). CB1 and CB2 receptors have been found to regulate appetite, digestion, immune function, inflammation, sleep, mood, temperature regulation and pain.
Currently, there are two known endocannabinoids, AEA and 2-AG which our bodies produce naturally. These endocannabinoids are broken down by special enzymes. When you do not have enough endocannabinoids, this can lead to a deficiency. Cannabinoids, from the plant cannabis, mimic our body’s natural endocannabinoids. Unlike endocannabinoids, the cannabinoids from cannabis are not broken down by the enzymes in our body and can be stored and used later.
If you do not have enough endocannabinoids in your system to promote homeostasis, you may experience Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency. According to studies cited by the National Institute of Health, “these studies have implicated the ECS in a variety of physiopathological processes, both in the peripheral and central nervous systems and in various peripheral organs. They further suggested that modulating ECS activity may have therapeutic potential in almost all diseases affecting humans, including obesity/metabolic syndrome, diabetes and diabetic complications, neurodegenerative, inflammatory, cardiovascular, liver, gastrointestinal, skin diseases, pain, psychiatric disorders, cachexia, cancer, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, among many other).”
Furthermore, according to the National Institute of Health,
“If endocannabinoid function were decreased, it follows that a lowered pain threshold would be operative, along with derangements of digestion, mood, and sleep among the almost universal physiological systems subserved by the endocannabinoid system”.
There is still much research to be done regarding the endocannabinoid system. In the coming years, scientists may identify more endocannabinoid receptors, enzymes and endocannabinoids.
https://www.healthline.com/health/endocannabinoid-system-2 A Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2241751/ The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5576607/ Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Supports the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel, and Other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes
https://www.uclahealth.org/cannabis/human-endocannabinoid-system Human Endocannabinoid System
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