The Endocannabinoid System: How Cannabis Effects The Human Body

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

Cannabis and its derivatives have been consumed by humans for centuries and in the past couple of decades scientists have been searching for an explanation as to how Cannabis works in the human body. Research on the effects of cannabis led to the discovery of an unknown communication system called The Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which plays a vital role in regulating our physiology, mood, pain and everyday experience.

The ECS is found throughout the brain and nervous system and is involved with bodily functions, such as appetite, pain, digestion, reproduction, motor learning, stress, and memory. The discovery of receptors in the brain that respond to cannabis and the identification of endogenous cannabinoid compounds ( anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and their metabolic enzymes) in our own bodies that bind to these receptors advances our understanding of human biology, health and disease.   

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that activate cannabinoid receptors and other receptors in the body. Although, there are over 100 cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis, the two that have been studied extensively the most are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) 

There are several different types of cannabinoids that the endocannabinoid system can act on:

Endocannabinoid - These are the natural cannabinoids that your body produces on its own

Phytocannabinoid - These are compounds that are produced by hemp and cannabis plants, such as, THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, etc. 

CB1 Receptor - are typically found in the brain and throughout the nervous system. Cannabinoids that target these receptors can have an effect on motor learning, coordination, pain modulation and metabolism.

CB2 receptors - are primarily found in the immune system, as well as on our skin, and thus are thought to act in a primarily protective role.

Ultimately, the interaction of endocannabinoids with your cannabinoid receptors will determine how CBD and THC will affect you. Due to the complexity of the endocannabinoid system, it may require trial and error to determine what product and dosage will suit your needs best.

When we talk about the significance of cannabidiol (CBD) and the role that endocannabinoids play in maintaining and improving our health, we’re referring to their influence on the endocannabinoid system and potentially improving its ability to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis refers to any process or reaction that our body utilizes to maintain balance. In many cases, these efforts to maintain balance are necessary for survival.

The Endocannabinoid System is responsible for regulating an array of bodily functions. Pain management, immune response, appetite, energy, mood, sleep and memory are just some of the functions that are managed by the endocannabinoid system.

Research has shown us that supplementing your body with phytocannabinoids, such as CBD, may help the endocannabinoid system function properly and lead to improved health.


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