What is the Endocannabinoid System?

Did you know your body naturally produces endogenous cannabinoids regardless of whether you use cannabis? It’s all a part of your body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS. Endogenous cannabinoids are like cannabinoids in that they act on your body’s cannabinoid receptors. However, with the endogenous versions, your body only produces them as needed. This makes it difficult for doctors and scientists to measure what’s considered a low, average, or recommended level.

When Was the Endocannabinoid System Discovered?

The story of the human cannabinoid system is long and complicated. The first discovery of an endocannabinoid receptor within the human body happened in the 1980s. By 1990, scientists could clone them in rats. And in 1992, a lab isolated the first endocannabinoid. We later found that the human cannabinoid system helps regulate the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

Research into the body’s natural endocannabinoid system is still in its infancy, but we’re finding out more every day. This system has been linked to various processes within your body, including:

  • Pain management
  • Mood
  • Memory and learning
  • Appetite
  • Digestion
  • Sleep

There are many other functions this system helps to regulate. So the next time you feel stressed or anxious, this could be the impetus that makes the ECS kick into gear.

What Are the Components of the Human Cannabinoid System?

Your ECS includes three components:

  1. Endocannabinoid molecules produced by your body
  2. Endocannabinoid receptors
  3. Enzymes

Your body produces the molecules as needed. They bind to the receptors to alert your body that it needs to take action, such as to relieve pain. Once the endocannabinoid has served its purpose, it’s broken down by the enzymes to be expelled from your body.

What Does the ECS Do, Exactly?

This is the area where scientists still don’t know as much as they‘d like. The research to date points to the ECS as a method of keeping your body in homeostasis. When you’re in homeostasis, all your body systems are balanced and operating as they should. When you’re out of homeostasis, this means that something is not right. For example, an injury, infection, or fever can throw you out of homeostasis. When this happens, it’s your ECS to the rescue to restore that lost balance.

Does CBD Affect the Endocannabinoid System?

Research into CBD and the ECS is young. However, scientists do think that the human cannabinoid system is affected by CBD. Possibly, CBD prevents the enzymes from breaking down the endocannabinoids to increase the duration of their effects. Another theory is that CBD works on an ECS receptor that scientists and doctors have yet to discover. No one knows exactly how the body’s ECS processes foreign elements such as CBD, but researchers think the effects may be beneficial.

Last Word on the Role of the Endocannabinoid System?

According to the National Library of Medicine, the ECS impacts your body’s motor control, emotional responses, reproductive system, immune system, and more. But there may be evidence that its purpose is far more widespread. New studies are happening every day that link the functions of the ECS to everything from weight control to the regulation of substance use disorder. Your ECS may help control your liver and kidney functions and your body’s response to chronic pain. Still, exactly what it does and how it does it is open for debate.

More research is needed into the endocannabinoid system in humans, but from what we know so far, cannabinoids such as CBD may actually assist it in doing its many jobs.