So what is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), exactly?

If you haven’t heard of Raphael Mecholum, he’s known as the grandfather of cannabis and he discovered a system in our bodies about 40 years ago that would forever change the history of medical cannabis.

The ECS is a physiological system that is found inside all mammals – and it is as unique as our fingerprints. The ECS functions in all of our bodies, even if you have never consumed cannabis before.

The ECS is made up of endocannabinoids, enzymes, and receptors that maintain the body’s homeostasis – that’s just fancy talk for keeping everything balanced. For example, if an outside force, such as lack of sleep or pain, throws off your body’s homeostasis, your ECS helps your body return to its ideal state.

The ECS is responsible for regulating appetite, immune system, cognition, mood, sleep, pain perception, metabolism and muscle function. It also regulates pleasure, memory, cognition, sensory processing and brain development…that a lot of systems!

So how does the Endocannaboind System work?

Endocannabinoids are small molecules that our bodies produce. They are similar to cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, which are called phytocannabinoids (two of about 104 are THC and CBD!)

Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout your body, on the surface of cells.  Endocannabinoids bind to those receptors and transmit information about changing conditions to the inside of the cell.

That means the introduction of phytocannabionids to the body increases the presence of cannabinoids which your body thinks are endocannabinoids. And it makes sense, because studies suggest that certain conditions like migraines, fibromyalgia, and IBS might actually be caused by what researchers have dubbed Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency.

The two most studied cannabinoid receptors are:

  • CB1 receptors, which are mostly found in the central nervous system  (pain pathway)
  • CB2 receptors, which are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells

When the right endo- or phytocannabinoids interact with these receptors, patients can experience a fundamental reduction in things like pain and inflammation and explains why cannabis can be such a useful tool across a broad range of indications and symptoms.

 

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