The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) was named after the plant which led to its discovery, cannabis. As we learn more about it some have begun to think that the endocannabinoid system is very important in establishing and maintaining health. The ECS is essentially a collection of cannabinoid receptors that can be found all over the body. From the brain and organs, all the way to connective tissues and glands cannabinoid receptors can be found. The endocannabinoid system is comprised of two major cell receptors, Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2). Endocannabinoids are naturally produced by your body and often activate these receptors causing various effects. When smoking cannabis, cannabinoids are ingested and activate these same receptors as well. Cannabinoids were actually discovered first, and endocannabinoids (endo, meaning within) were then named after this receptor activating compounds.
Cannabinoid receptor 1 was first discovered in 1990 and is most often found in the central and peripheral nervous system. One of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis, THC, possesses an ability to bond with CB1 receptors easily. This is one of the main reasons that when you smoke a high THC strain of cannabis you get a strong effect. CB1 receptors are essentially expressly responsible for ganja’s psychoactive effects. In addition to getting you high, the activation of CB1 receptors can affect your mood, memory, appetite, sleep, and a variety of other essential bodily functions.
Cannabinoid receptor 2, on the other hand, was discovered in 1993 and are typically found in the immune system and immune system related organs such as the spleen, tonsils, etc. While they are sometimes found in the brain they are in not nearly as high of a concentration of CB1 receptors. CB2 receptors are also often found in the gastrointestinal system in relatively high density. These receptors can help to module the intestinal inflammatory response. Because of this, activating these receptors has been shown to help treat Crohn’s disease and IBS. Activating the CB2 receptor often times reduced inflammation in many parts of the body and can help with a myriad of different ailments; one of the most common being chronic pain. CB2 is activated by cannabidiol, the most common CBD besides THC.
Many different areas of the body are regulated and affected by the endocannabinoid system. And while the endocannabinoid system does produce its own endocannabinoids, many researchers have theorized that some people may have a shortage of endocannabinoids. This proposed condition which is known as endocannabinoid deficiency is thought to be connected with a myriad of conditions often related to the immune and nervous systems. It has been theorized that ailments such as migraines, IBS, fibromyalgia, MS, Parkinson’s, PTSD, and a variety of other conditions may be directly linked with having a deficiency of endocannabinoids.The most common side effects from these conditions are typically inflammation, pain, and nausea. These effects can in a lot of cases be treated with medical cannabis.
In conclusion, the endocannabinoids naturally produced by the endocannabinoid system help regulate different bodily functions. Some people may have a deficiency of natural endocannabinoids which represents itself in various ailments. By replenishing these receptors with cannabinoids many of these ailments may decrease in severity or go away altogether.