The Endocannabinoid System, pronounced (Endo-Can-Nabi-Noid) or ECS, is a part of your body that works as a complex cell-signaling system that resides in all humans and animals. It’s a cellular response to organisms both internally and externally, creating various changes in the body as a response. “It exists throughout life, so we're actually born with an Endocannabinoid system, and it's there before we're born.”, says Ruth Ross, Ph.D. Biochemical & Molecular Pharmacology in her TEDx Talk called “Demystifying the endocannabinoid system”.
UNDERSTANDING THE ECS
Scientists and experts understand that the ECS plays a significant role in regulating functions that connect to sleep, mood, appetite, memory, and reproduction just to name a few.“The Endocannabinoid system is there in people who've never even heard of cannabis. So if you've lived a life or in a community where cannabis isn't a thing, you still have a wonderful, functional Endocannabinoid system.”, Ross further explains.
The ECS can be broken down into 3 core components; Cannabinoid Receptors (ie.CB1, CB2), Ligands that bind to those receptors and initiate an action called endocannabinoids or body made cannabinoids like anandamide (AEA) and 2-AG, Synthesizing Enzymes which make these cannabinoids on demand when they are needed, and the degradative enzymes that break down the various cannabinoids after they are used.
The ECS works through retrograde signaling. An endocannabinoid is made in a postsynaptic neuron in response to neurotransmitter stimulation. It then travels backward or retrogrades across a synapse where it binds to a receptor on the presynaptic membrane to initiate an action. When cells in your body are sending signals of stress, anxiety, pain, or inflammation, it is through the ECS that your body checks these processes back into balance so that your body can relax, remember to eat, fall asleep, forget traumatic experiences and protect itself along with a host of mediating and restorative processes.
Endocannabinoids, also known as endogenous cannabinoids, are molecules that are made by your body naturally. There are two critical endocannabinoids identified by researchers: anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These two endocannabinoids are there to help your body's internal functions work properly. They work by either binding, blocking, or enhancing one of the many receptors in the body; the way the body responds depends on which receptors the endocannabinoids bind to as each receptor connects to a different part of the body.
THE BODIES RECEPTORS
Endocannabinoids bind to the various receptors in your body, which signal to the ECS that action is needed. Think of the endocannabinoids as the key, and the cannabinoids receptors as the lock. When these two are combined it unlocks the downstream responses throughout your body. There are many types of endocannabinoid receptors found within the human body with the main two being: the CB1 receptors found in the central nervous system and the CB2 receptors found in the peripheral nervous system, specifically in the immune cells.
THE BREAK DOWN: ENZYMES
Degradative enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids after they have done their job. The two main enzymes in charge of this are the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which works to break down anandamide (AEA), and the Monoacylglycerol acid lipase (MGL), which breaks down the 2-AG, Synthesizing Enzymes.
THE MAIN FUNCTIONS OF THE ECS
According to an article written by Healthline reviewed by Alan Carter, Pharm.D, experts have linked the influence of the ECS to the following processes within the body:
- Appetite and Digestion
- Chronic Pain
- Inflammation and other Immune System responses
- Mood and Mood Disorders such as Anxiety, Stress, Happiness and Schizophrenia
- Learning and Memory
- Motor Control
- Sleep including going to sleep and staying asleep
- Cardiovascular System Function
- Muscle Formation
- Bone Remodeling and Growth
- Liver Function
- Reproductive System Functions
- Skin and Nerve Functions
“From embryonic development to Immunosurveillance there is not a single function in your body that is not somehow influenced or modulated by the ECS”, says Dr. Rachel Knox, Endocannabinologist and Cannabinoid Medicine Specialist.
All of these functions that the ECS assists with play a huge role in creating stability inside of the body’s internal environment, “You can think of it as a switchboard, functioning in and across all physiological processes and organs. Acting and reacting to internal and external stimuli to direct, correct, and overall manage your health”, Dr.Knox. continues to explain.
THE ECS AND CBD (CANNABIDIOL)
CBD may bind to more receptors than you might think, where they act as either agonist—mimicking endocannabinoids produced by your body and “activating” the receptors—or as antagonists—blocking cannabinoid receptors and limiting their activity.
Though experts and scientists are still doing extensive scientific research to fully understand how CBD interacts with the ECS, it is believed that in addition to the CB1 & CB2 receptors mentioned above, CBD may additionally interact with your body's following receptors:
- Dopamine D2 Receptor - believed to be responsible for psychotic disorders.
- Activation of PPAR-gamma - insulin sensitivity, lipid uptake, and dopamine release
- Activation of TRPV1 - regulates body temperature, pain, and inflammation.
- Activation of 5-HT1A - moderates anxiety, pain perception, addiction, sleep, vomiting, nausea, and appetite.
- Glycine Receptors - In the central nervous system these are associated with chronic pain and inflammation
- Adenosine Enhancement (ENT1) - autoimmune conditions and inflammation.
- GPR55 Antagonization - moderates bone density and blood pressure.
- Vanilloid Receptors - works with sensory neurons
- Nuclear Receptors (PPARS) - lipid uptake, energy homeostasis, insulin sensitivity, among other metabolic processes.
Medical researchers and experts continue to perform many studies and make groundbreaking discoveries on how the ECS works within the body, and what role CBD plays in its specific functions. As more studies become available we promise to share all of our knowledge with you, our Hemp Berry family. We hope to be your trusted source for pure CBD products and information on all things CBD-related.
*Statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease. Consult your physician prior to use of any CBD product especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or using other medications.