The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
- The largest Neurotransmitter System in the body
- Produces & metabolizes cannabinoids inside all mammals (Fat-like lipids, enzymes and proteins)
- Think of it as the machinery of the cells – It is the bridge between the body and the mind
- Helps regulate immune functions, nerve functions, and even bone functions
- Plays important roles in the body’s processes, including appetite, pain sensation, mood and memory
- CB1 and CB2 receptors are the most discussed, however, there are many other types of receptors in the endocannabinoid system
- Receptors are found on cell surfaces
- The goal of this system is homeostasis, a fancy word meaning balance.
Certain cannabinoids in the cannabis plant fit receptors on our cells like a lock fits a key. THC and CBN are two of the more than 60 cannabinoids known to fit in such a manner.
CBD does not have this lock and key ability with the CB1 or CB2 receptor. CBD does influence how other cannabinoids like THC interact with our receptors. One influence CBD has on THC includes reducing or blocking the psychotropic (intoxicating) effects of THC.
Inflammation and Cannabinoids
Studies show repeated physical and/or mental stress and/or outside toxins impair Endocannabinoid System (ECS) signaling.(1)
One-way traffic to nerves is the main cause of inflammation in the body and is an underlying issue for many conditions.(2)
Without two-way communication, the immune system launches an attack, leaving the nerves no way to tell themselves to calm down.
Studies show when you add cannabinoids to the equation, two-way communication is restored, resulting in reduced inflammation.(3) (4) (5)
Cannabis as Medicine
Over 100 years later and here we are with so many chemists & scientists working to create medicines synthetically to do exactly what natural cannabis is already capable of doing.
Why do humans always think we have a better way of doing things than nature?
Endo meaning “inside”, endocannabinoid represents cannabinoids produced naturally, inside our bodily systems.
Cannabis is one of the first plants used as a medicine, for religious ceremonies and recreationally. The first accounts of its use for these purposes stretch back 5,000 years, and yet, with all we know now, there is still so much more to be learned about this medicinal plant.
Experiments with single cannabinoids were first done in the 1940’s and 1950’s with the first cannabinoid receptors discovered in the mid 80’s. In 1992 endocannabinoids were discovered.
Later as scientists tried to learn more about the metabolic pathways of Phyto cannabinoids and endocannabinoids, they came upon an undiscovered molecular signaling system within the body that is involved in regulating a broad range of biological functions. It was named the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) due to the role cannabis played in its discovery.(6)
The last couple of decades more and more has been discovered about this molecular signaling system and the medical use of cannabinoids (7), however, it is still not taught in medical schools.
- Fraguas-Sánchez AI, Torres-Suárez AI. Medical Use of Cannabinoids. Drugs. 2018;78(16):1665-1703. doi:10.1007/s40265-018-0996-1
- Arulselvan P, Fard MT, Tan WS, et al. Role of Antioxidants and Natural Products in Inflammation. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:5276130. doi:10.1155/2016/5276130
- Palomares B, Garrido-Rodriguez M, Gonzalo-Consuegra C, et al. Δ9-TETRAHYDROCANNABINOLIC ACID ALLEVIATES COLLAGEN-INDUCED ARTHRITIS: ROLE OF PPARγ AND CB1 RECEPTORS [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jun 8]. Br J Pharmacol. 2020;10.1111/bph.15155. doi:10.1111/bph.15155
- Klein TW. Cannabinoid-based drugs as anti-inflammatory therapeutics. Nat Rev Immunol. 2005;5(5):400‐411. doi:10.1038/nri1602
- Tanasescu R, Constantinescu CS. Cannabinoids and the immune system: an overview. Immunobiology. 2010;215(8):588-597. doi:10.1016/j.imbio.2009.12.005
- Pertwee RG. Cannabinoid pharmacology: the first 66 years. Br J Pharmacol. 2006 Jan;147 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S163-71. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjp.0706406. PMID: 16402100; PMCID: PMC1760722.
- Hauer D., Toth R., Schelling G. (2020) Endocannabinoids, “New-Old” Mediators of Stress Homeostasis. In: Choukèr A. (eds) Stress Challenges and Immunity in Space. Springer, Cham