Throughout our lives, we have been told that there are 11 major organ systems within the body. They include the respiratory, circulatory, nervous, muscular, reproductive, endocrine, lymphatic, integumentary, skeletal, nervous and digestive system, but have you ever heard of your endocannabinoid system (ECS)?
Unless you’re a doctor or a researcher studying the benefits of CBD or cannabis, chances are you probably wouldn’t be aware of this system and what it could do for your overall health. In fact, it was the research on the effects of cannabis that led scientists directly to the discovery of the biochemical communication system in the human body, known as the endocannabinoid system.
The ECS has been referred to as the most important physiological system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. This system plays a critical role in regulating our mood, physiology and everyday experience.
What Is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system or the endogenous cannabinoid system is named after the cannabis plant that led to its discovery. And, it is one of the most important physiological systems that is involved in regulating and maintaining human health.
The ECS is a biological system that is made of endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters in the body that bind to cannabinoid receptors to communicate with the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.
Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout our body from the brain, connective tissues, glands, organs and even immune cells. In each tissue within the body, the ECS performs a different task, but the end goal is to simply maintain homeostasis, which is to keep the body’s internal environment stable in a constantly changing external environment.
Cannabinoids and Endocannabinoids
The ECS and its cannabinoids are found in the intersection of the body’s various bodily systems. This allows them to communicate and coordinate between different cells.
There are two different types of cannabinoid receptors:
CB1: These receptors are primarily found in the nervous system, connective tissue, glands, gonads and organs.
CB2: These receptors are found in most parts of the body and are responsible for a variety of biological functions associated with the immune system.
But how do they work within the body?
Endocannabinoids are the substances our bodies naturally produce to stimulate cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoid receptors are present throughout the body, embedded in cell membranes, and are believed to be larger than any other receptor system.
Phytocannabinoids are plant substances that stimulate these cannabinoid receptors. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most psychoactive and certainly the most infamous of these substances, but other cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are gaining the popularity of many scientists and researchers due to a variety of healing capabilities.
When cannabinoid receptors are stimulated, a variety of physiologic processes can happen. For example, when you experience an injury, cannabinoids have the ability to minimize the release of sensitizers and activators from the injured tissue. In return, this stabilizes the nerve cell to prevent uncontrolled firing while calming the nearby immune cells to prevent the release of pro-inflammatory substances. All these different mechanisms work together for a single purpose: to reduce the damage and pain caused by an injury.
The endocannabinoid system is considered a bridge between the body and mind because it has a complex influence on our nervous system, immune system and all of our body’s organs, which led scientists to discover how this system affects the correlation between states of consciousness, health and disease.
As odd as this may seem, cannabinoids have been found to influence an individual’s relationship with their external environment. Administering cannabinoids can actually make you a happier person by altering human behavior to promote sharing, creativity and humor.
Through the process of regulating neurogenesis (active production of new neurons), neuronal plasticity (the brain’s ability to change over time) and learning, cannabinoids can directly influence an individual’s open-mindedness and the ability to let go of doubts and negative behaviors from the past. Positively reformatting these old patterns can essentially improve your health.
Can We Improve Our Endocannabinoid System?
It is safe to stay that a functional ECS is essential for overall health. From nursing your child to responding to injuries, the ECS helps us survive in a constantly changing environment. But, is there a way to boost this system naturally? There actually is…
Research has now proven that small doses of cannabinoids from cannabis can signal the body to make more endocannabinoids and build more cannabinoid receptors. Although most physicians would discourage patients away from smoking a medicine to improve their health, there are multiple alternative ways you can use cannabis to reap its benefits in the form of a tincture, tea, salve and lotion, proving even small doses of cannabis might serve as a tonic for our most influential physiological system.
The content of this Website is for informational purposes only, is general in nature and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and does not constitute professional advice. The information on this Website should not be considered as complete and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions, or their treatment. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise, weight loss, or health care program and/or any of the beauty treatments.
The Endocannabinoid System | Project CBD. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.projectcbd.org/science/endocannabinoid-system/endocannabinoid-system
NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://norml.org/library/item/introduction-to-the-endocannabinoid-system
2-Arachidonoylglycerol. (2018, July 24). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2-Arachidonoylglycerol
NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://norml.org/news/2010/07/01/pot-compound-stimulates-neurogenesis-study-says