A Guide to the Endocannabinoid System! Know What it is?

After several decades of research, groups of scientists made several important discoveries on the effects of marijuana and CBD. Not only this they also identified the main ingredient in marijuana. Also, they discovered where & how it works in the body via the brain. They call it a new system i.e. endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

TABLE OF CONTENTS:-
1. Endocannabinoid System Working! Know-How?
1.1 Endocannabinoids
1.2 Enzymes
1.3 Receptors
2. How Does THC and CBD Interaction Work With the Endocannabinoid System?
3. Functions of The Endocannabinoid System! Know What?

This system of the brain was named after the Cannabis plant (Marijuana) & its one of the type Sativa, along with its active ingredient THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol THC). ECS is a unique system that communicates between the brain & body that controls several important functions like how a person moves, feels, how a person responds, and many more.

What Is The Endocannabinoid System

The natural chemical compounds produced by the body that interacts within the ECS are said to be Cannabinoids and are responsible to interact with receptors of ECS to regulate & control essential bodily functions, including:

  • Mood
  • Memory
  • Appetite
  • Sleep
  • Reproduction & Fertility

The Endocannabinoid system is always active in your brain, even if you don’t use cannabis. 

1. Endocannabinoid System Working! Know-How?

The endocannabinoid system mainly consists of three components: endocannabinoids, enzymes, and receptors. 

1.1 Endocannabinoids

Also called Endogenous cannabinoids that are auto-produced molecules by the body. Although they are the same as cannabinoids these are made by your body. 

The two key chemicals of endocannabinoids are so far identified:

  •  Anandamide (AEA)
  • 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)

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These mentioned chemicals help internal functions to run smoothly. According to the need of your body, chemicals are produced and make it difficult to judge the typical levels for each.

1.2 Enzymes

After the function is carried out, Enzymes help endocannabinoids to break down effectively. 

The two main enzymes are responsible for this:

  •  For breaking down of AEA – Fatty acid amide hydrolase 
  • For breaking down of 2-AG – Monoacylglycerol acid lipase

1.3 Receptors

The receptors of endocannabinoids are found in the body. Endocannabinoid molecules bind them to signalize that the ECS needs to take action. 

The main two-endocannabinoid receptors are found:

  • CB1 Receptors– found in CNS (Central Nervous System)
  • CB2 Receptors– found in PNS (Peripheral Nervous System), especially in immune cells.
What Is The Endocannabinoid System

Endocannabinoids can interact with either receptor. The results of the effects depend on the location of the receptor and which endo-molecule it binds to.

Understand with an example- 

Endocannabinoid might interact with CB1 receptors in the spinal nerve to relieve pain. And possibly, others can target CB2 receptors in immune cells to signal that your body is going through inflammation which is a common sign of auto-immune disorders.

How Does THC and CBD Interaction Work With the Endocannabinoid System?

Tetrahydrocannabinol THC is one of the main chemical compounds found in marijuana or cannabis. This cannabinoid is responsible for producing mind-altering or High effects.

Once it gets into the body, THC binds to receptors by interacting with ECS just like endocannabinoids. This compound is so powerful to bind both the receptors- CB1 & CB2.

Take an example, if THC may help to stimulate your appetite or can alleviate pain. But on the other side, it may also cause anxiety or delusion in some cases. Therefore, this allows THC to have a range of effects on your mind & body.

endocannabinoid system diagram

On the other hand, CBD, short for cannabidiol, is found in the Hemp-based cannabis plant. CBD is known for its non-psychoactive properties and doesn’t create a high, unlike THC. And therefore, very few changes in causing any side-effects. 

Experts are still studying how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system. But this is clear that CBD doesn’t bind to either receptor the way THC does. Instead, it is with the belief that it works by protecting endocannabinoids from being broken down and stimulating both types of receptors. This means it allows CBD to have more effects on the body. 

While the researchers are still working hard on how CBD works with ECS to dissolve the debate. Also, observational studies suggest that CBD can help with many medicinal benefits such as nausea, pain, skin & mental disorders, and symptoms associated with other severe conditions. 

Functions of The Endocannabinoid System! Know What?

The ECS is a complicated subject, and researchers are still determining the exact potential functions of it. According to studies, ECS has the following main functions & processes: 

  • Chronic pain
  • Appetite & digestion
  • Mood
  • Metabolism
  • Inflammation
  • Sleep 
  • Memory
  • Muscle formation
  • Reproductive system
  • Stress/anxiety
  • Liver functions
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Skin & nerve functions
  • Endocannabinoid deficiency

These listed functions are to stabilize your internal environment called homeostasis. Let’s understand with an example if any outside force thrives your body’s homeostasis, say pain or muscle spasm.

Observations proved that the primary role of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis. 

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Although the Endocannabinoid System plays a vital role in stabilizing the body’s internal processes, still, a lot of research is needed to be done for precise information. As medical experts are developing a better understanding of this system, it could eventually hold the key to curing multiple health conditions.

Not to forget that any treatment, even natural ones, can cause unexpected negative-effects. 

Treating yourself without consulting an expert can be dangerous, as it can put your health at risk. Just make sure to consult a doctor before taking any sort of medication because it’s risky to take it without concern.

The legality of Marijuana and Hemp varies from state to state and its not legal in India, so before buying any related product, be sure to know the laws of your state. Although in 2018 farm Bill declared the legality of Hemp and CBD products at the federal level, but not marijuana, still it pays to learn CBD local laws. Making hemp products legal in India will not only open up the medical options for people and doctors but it will also help researchers to speed up the medical studies which eventually drive down the CBD prices.

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