The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) was discovered in the 1990s by scientists researching how cannabis works in the human body. Experts are still discovering more about the ECS but what we know thus far is that it is responsible for maintaining homeostasis.
What is homeostasis?
Homeostasis refers to the body's need to reach and maintain a certain state of equilibrium. The term was first coined by a physiologist named Walter Cannon in 1926 but it wasn't until the 1990s that scientists discovered that the Endocannabinoid system was responsible for keeping our bodies in a state of equilibrium, bringing balance to all systems throughout the body.
"The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a very important role in the human body for our survival. This is due to its ability to play a critical role in maintaining the homeostasis of the human body, which encompasses the brain, endocrine, and immune system, to name a few. ECS is a unique system in multiple dimensions. To begin with, it is a retrograde system functioning post- to pre-synapse, allowing it to be a “master regulator” - The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator
What does The Endocannabinoid System do?
The ECS is found throughout the brain and nervous system and is involved with bodily functions, such as appetite, pain, digestion, mood, reproduction, immune response, motor learning, stress, and memory, to name a few. The ECS involves three core components: endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes.
Also known as endogenous cannabinoids, these are compounds produced naturally by the body to help internal systems function optimally. The endocannabinoids produced by your body are Anandamide (AEA) & 2- arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)
CB1 Receptor - typically found in the brain and throughout the nervous system and can have an effect on motor learning, coordination, pain modulation and metabolism.
CB2 receptors - primarily found in the immune system, as well as on our skin, and thus are thought to act in a primarily protective role.
These are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids. There are two main enzymes responsible for this:
fatty acid amide hydrolase, which breaks down AEA (Anandamide)
monoacylglycerol acid lipase, which breaks down 2-AG (2- arachidonoylglycerol)
How does CBD support your Endocannabinoid System? Since the discovery of CBD in the 1940s many studies have been conducted to understand its benefits and how it works in the body. Although the safety and benefits of CBD have been proven, the exact mechanisms that it acts on are still being discovered. We know that CBD interacts with different receptors throughout the body, such as Serotonin (regulates mood) and Vanilloid receptors (regulates pain, inflammation) but when it comes to your ECS, CBD doesn't directly bind to the cannabinoid receptors. New research is showing that CBD actually influences them in an indirect way. Instead of binding directly to CB1 & CB2 receptors, it is believed that CBD works by preventing endocannabinoids (Anandamide & 2- AG) from being broken down, in turn increasing the levels of endocannabinoids in the body. Slowing down the breakdown of your body's endocannabinoids has a significant impact on your health.
According to a team of Stony Brook University scientists, CBD functions as an anandamide reuptake and breakdown inhibitor. Anandamide encourages homeostasis throughout the body by binding with receptors known as CB1 and CB2 receptors.
2-AG also bind to CB1 & CB2 receptors, and plays an important role in regulating mood, neuro-inflammation, and brain function. Endocannabinoids are naturally produced compounds by the body on demand. "If cells are sending signals of pain or stress or inflammation to each other, the receiving cell is supposed to create an endocannabinoid that it shoots back to the cells sending that signal to turn it off, to restore balance and harmony." - Dr. Rachel Knox, co-founder of the American Cannabinoid Clinics.
CBD helps to encourage optimal levels of your body's endocannabinoids. Since cannabinoid receptors are present in many different systems, endocannabinoids like Anandamide and 2- AG have various physical and emotional functions.
More research is underway to fully understand how CBD works in the body but the research thus far shows that it is a safe alternative to conventional medicine and it helps to reduce anxiety, pain, inflammation and improve quality of sleep.
Disclaimer: this info and products are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any ailment. Consult your doctor before starting a new supplement.