The endocannabinoid system is a network of molecules that balance and regulate various processes in the human body. The endocannabinoid is a part of the central nervous system and helps in sending signals to all parts of the body and facilitating everyday processes. The system is made up of enzymes and receptors that work in a coordinated manner to ensure efficient functioning.
A well-functioning endocannabinoid system promotes a healthy balance in the body. The endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) can easily help adapt to changes in the body that directly influence their health. The system also promotes immune cell development and leads to a stable immune system. Even so, there are some individuals who suffer from a clinical endocannabinoid deficiency.
Any disturbances in the endocannabinoid equilibrium can result in poor health with serious symptoms. In some cases, it may even be fatal if not treated on time. In this post, we look at the ECS in detail and try to determine how to boost its functions and benefits. Keep reading to learn more.
What is an Endocannabinoid System?
The ECS is a complex system that primarily plays the role of cell signaling in the human body. It was first discovered in the 1990’s by doctors studying tetrahydrocannabinol THC. THC is a well-known compound found in the cannabis plant and other plants in the same family. To better understand how the drug causes psychoactive effects, they stumbled upon the ECS.
Even though it has been several decades since the ECS was discovered, there is still little information about this complex system. What is known is that the endocannabinoid system is part of the central nervous system and plays a key role in maintaining human health. The system is at the core of the start of most processes within the human body.
Processes that are directly regulated by the ECS are:
- The cannabinoid system regulates and controls sleep
- The system influences hormones and as a result affects mood
- It regulates human appetite
- The system is core to the brain and spinal cord functions such as memory
- The endocannabinoid system directly affects fertility health
These are just but a few of the normal body functions that are directly affected by the ECS. As we will see later, the intricate system touches on almost all parts of the human body and is primarily responsible for key processes. From blood pressure control to brain cell signaling, the ECS is an important physiologic system involved in all areas of the body.
The Role of Receptors and Enzymes
Many people have come to associate the ECS with the use of cannabis or other THC substances. The misconception is that THC or other cannabinoids boost the functioning of the body by creating the ECS. In reality, the human body already has the ECS and its functions even without taking THC and other substances. The cannabinoid receptors in the system are what make it possible to utilize THC.
What THC does is that it binds to the receptors to enhance the functioning of the ECS. Endocannabinoid signaling takes place without consuming cannabinoids but when a person uses cannabinoids, the system is more effective.
To fully conceptualize how the ECS works, it is necessary to review the key components of the system. The ECS is made up of three key components: receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids.
Below are the key components of the ECS:
The endocannabinoids, usually referred to as endogenous cannabinoids are the molecules that make up the system. These molecules are produced by the body in all human beings, including children. The molecules are the building blocks for the ECS. The endocannabinoid resembles cannabinoids found in cannabis and other plants from the marijuana family.
There are two main types of endocannabinoids that have been identified by experts.
- Anandamide (AEA): This is a fatty acid neurotransmitter that is a key component of the endocannabinoid system.
- 2-Arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG): This is the second molecule found in the ECS and is the primary ligand for the CB2 receptor.
These two endocannabinoids keep the body running smoothly. Scientists have determined that the body produces them as needed. Therefore, it’s sometimes difficult to determine the typical levels of each of the substances.
The other components of the system are what are known as endocannabinoid receptors. In essence, endocannabinoids are the building blocks for the receptors. The endocannabinoid system has two receptors that are found throughout the human body. Endocannabinoids usually bind to these receptors, signaling that the ECS has to take action.
There are two main endocannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 Receptors: These are cannabinoid receptors primarily found in the central nervous system. The CB1 receptors are the main blocks where THC binds when someone uses cannabis products.
- CB2 Receptors: The CB2 receptors are commonly found in the peripheral nervous system especially the immune cells.
Initially, it was thought that only CB1 receptors were capable of binding with cannabinoids. Recent studies have indicated that cannabinoids can bind to either receptor but the results of the bond depends on where the receptor is located. Primarily, THC binds to CB1 receptors. As a result, the receptor may send signals to the brain and other parts of the body.
The third important component of the endocannabinoid system is enzymes. As the endocannabinoid system performs its duties, the endocannabinoids wear out. These endocannabinoids need to be broken down to allow room for the production of new ones. The enzymes are responsible for breaking down the endocannabinoid once they have done their work.
There are many enzymes that work within the ECS but those responsible for breaking down the endocannabinoids are fatty acid hydrolase and monoacylglycerol acid lipase. The fatty acid amide hydrolase breaks down the AEA while the monoacylglycerol is responsible for breaking down the 2-AG.
The Role of Endocannabinoid System
The ERCS is vital not only to growth but also development. Most body parts develop thanks to the coordinated work of the ECS with the central nervous system. From conception all the way to birth and even growth, it is necessary for the mother of a child to have proper ECS balance and the child born to also have developed a balanced ECS.
First, the ECS performs the role of enzyme control. It controls how specific enzymes are produced in the body and how they are distributed. The enzymes produced help the body maintain its balance, adapt to changes in the environment, and perform its functions accordingly.
In reproduction, the ECS regulates the fertilization of eggs and ensures that the fertilized egg is transported through the oviduct to the uterus. The roles played by the ECS in folliculogenesis and oocyte maturation are key and the first role in human growth and development.
Besides the development and growth of a baby in the mother’s womb, the ECS is also an integral part of the growth in children and even adults. The human organs grow for a long time, some maturing in the late twenties. One such organ is the human brain. The brain takes time to grow and develop. Endocannabinoid signaling promotes brain growth and helps reduce stress and anxiety.
Endocannabinoid System Functions
The functions of the ECS are plenty as already mentioned. The ones already mentioned such as sleep and mood-boosting are all achieved through a series of processes that include hormonal balance, nerve system signaling, and body process regulations among others.
Studies have linked the ECS processes to the following body functions:
- Appetite and Digestion: Through the regulation of enzymes, the ECS can control appetite and digestion. It is enzymes that facilitate food digestion and absorption. The ECS is responsible for promoting enzyme excretion and starting enzyme action in the body. As a result, a properly balanced cannabinoid system performs the role of enhancing digestion and appetite.
- Metabolism: The ECS plays a key role in metabolic processes. Studies have found that the ECS process is associated with the hypothalamus and peripheral tissues in obese patients. The relationship indicates that those with high ECS activity are likely to eat more. On the contrary, studies have indicated that inhibiting ECS activity may result in humans losing weight.
- Immune System Responses: Human health thrives on a stable immune system. As long as a person has a stable immune balance, chances of getting sick are low. The ECS promotes the generation of immune cells in the human body. Further, it generates inhibitory neurotransmitters that are vital in preventing the spread of pathogens.
- Chronic Pain: The role played by the ECS in signaling the brain and other parts of the body means that it has a role in pain regulation. If any pain-causing activity happens in the body, the nervous system must first send a signal to the brain for the pain to be perceived. The chemical messengers used by the ECS may inhibit pain signals and help patients feel better.
- Inflammation: The primary cause of most pain-related conditions in the human body is inflammation. In essence, inflammation is the normal reaction of the body to injury or external attack. The cells get damaged to prevent the further spread of infection. The ECS may play a role in regulating inflammatory conditions by inhibiting pain associated with such.
- Mood: THC and other cannabinoids found in cannabis are known to be good mood boosters when consumed. This is because cannabinoids may bind to CB receptors, enhancing the functioning of the ECS. The ECS controls mood enzymes and promotes neuronal excitability when it is working at its optimal. This explains its role in mood regulation.
- Learning and Memory: The role of ECS in development and brain growth has already been mentioned above. There is a close relationship between the ECS, brain signaling, and brain development. Experts have found that the brain grows and develops memory when the ECS is functioning properly. For good memory, it is advisable to engage the ECS always.
- Motor Control: The term motor control simply refers to bodily movements. All the moving parts of the human body depend on the ECS. The system provides a stable internal environment for signaling the mind. As is the case with all other processes in the body, motor functions rely strongly on proper mental health.
- Sleep: A person only gets sleep when internal activities have been lowered and the brain is in a calm state. The duty of lowering brain activities to allow a person to rest lies with the nervous system. The ECS plays a key role in ensuring a person is in the right mental health and in a position to rest. This may explain why some individuals may use cannabis to fight insomnia.
- Cardiovascular System Function: All physiological processes are anchored on the health of the cardiovascular system. A healthy heart should be able to keep on pumping even while under pressure. The signaling of the heart to perform its functions starts from the ECS. It is the ECS that coordinates with the brain to regulate blood flow from the heat to the brain.
- Muscle Formation: We have already mentioned that those who lack endocannabinoids may suffer from weight loss. The main logic behind this fact is that when a person suffers from a lack of endocannabinoids, processes such as food digestion and absorption are affected. Such a person may also lack appetite since ECS plays a role in boosting appetite.
- Bone Remodeling and Growth: The same way the ECS plays a role in the regeneration of muscles, it is also helpful in rebuilding broken bones. The body-building process starts with signals from the ECS. Further, the ECS enhances a stable immune system that prevents further attacks on broken tissues from external bodies. These actions promote quick recovery.
- Liver Function: Some studies have suggested that the ECS may be helpful in facilitating liver functions. Although there is no clear information on how this happens, suggestions are that the system supports immune response, helping the liver to fight against potential infections. It is also said to have beneficial effects in cleansing the system.
- Reproductive System Function: Studies have suggested that a properly functioning ECS is an essential component of the reproductive system. It controls hormones that help bind the baby to the uterus. It is also responsible for the transportation of the embryo from the oviduct to the uterus.
- Stress: The other key function of ECS is controlling stress. It is through its effects on stress that ECS is in a position to promote sleep and mood. It all happens through hormonal balances attained by the system without external help. Even so, there are those who may wish to use marijuana or THC for the same purpose
- Skin and Nerve Function: Most importantly, the ECS regulates nerve function and skin health. There is no secret that the ECS works with the nervous system to ensure the smooth running of everyday functions. The relationship with the nervous system ensures that no other parts of the body are working accordingly.
Although there are so many functions of the ECS that have been observed by experts, there are still so many questions on how the system achieves its functions. The endocannabinoid system ECS does not only function by addressing one matter at a time but functions as a unit. The main way in which the ECS works is by maintaining homeostasis.
Homeostasis is a situation where the body tries to stabilize its internal environment. For instance, if the body experiences a fever or injury, it starts to work immediately on returning body functions to normalcy.
How Does THC Interact With ECS?
The therapeutic benefits of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) depend on its reaction with the ECS. The essential components of THC work by interacting with the nervous system, helping the body improve its functions. The only downside of THC is that it is the only cannabinoid with psychoactive properties. In other words, it causes the person using it to feel high.
THC works by binding on CB1 and CB2 receptors of the ECS. It is one of the most powerful cannabinoids because of its ability to bind to both cB1 and CB2 receptors. Due to its interaction with the ECS, THC has a myriad of effects on users besides the high feeling. Some of the effects are desirable while others are not. For instance, people who use THC experience mood enhancement and get rid of depression.
On the downside, those who use THC may experience paranoia and anxiety in some instances. The experiences detailed by marijuana smokers vary from person to person. One person may feel a burst of energy while another may feel high and relaxed. The type of cannabis used to extract the THC also plays a role in the final outcome of the drug.
Currently, there are studies underway exploring the possibility of producing synthetic THC that may only be used for its medical benefits. If such a product is to be made, it may cut down on the potential side-effects of THC and promote the health benefits of the drug on users.
Endogenous Cannabinoids and CBD
One of the most popular cannabinoids commonly used for medical purposes is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is popular due to its medical benefits and also due to the fact that it does not cause psychoactive effects on users like THC. Although CBD may have some negative effects, they are not as severe or frustrating as those associated with THC. Given that CBD is generally safer, it is commonly used.
Unlike THC which is known to bind to CB receptors, CBD does not bind on either CB1 or CB2 receptors. This leaves a puzzle on how CBD works with the endocannabinoid system. Even experts are not sure how CBD works or how it interacts with the ECS. It is known that it does not bind to receptors but it does affect endocannabinoid signaling.
Researchers believe that the main role played by CBD in the cannabinoid system is to prevent endocannabinoids from being broken down. As already established, enzymes are part of the ECS and are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids. Some researchers believe that it prevents these cannabinoids from breaking down.
On the other hand, some scientists believe that CBD probably binds to ECS receptors that are not yet known. Whichever the case, one thing that researchers seem to agree on is that CBD plays a role in maintaining human health through the cannabinoid system. Studies have suggested that CBD could help with pain, anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions.
The Effects of Endocannabinoid Deficiency
It is a fact that the endocannabinoid plays a key role in facilitating bodily functions. It is also a fact that endocannabinoids are naturally occurring in the human body. In simple terms, human beings are able to produce endocannabinoids that facilitate the normal functioning of body processes. The question then becomes; what happens when the body fails to produce endocannabinoids?
Some experts have suggested that the lack of endocannabinoids, often referred to as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency, may affect physiological processes. When this happens, it may tamper with the stable internal environment and trigger health problems. Among the issues that are believed to be associated with the deficiency include mental health among others.
A study published by the NCBI found that the lack of sufficient endocannabinoids may be a cause for some conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, and fibromyalgia. The lack of sufficient cannabinoids may also affect the immune response and the digestive system.
Some of the issues that are believed to be caused by the lack of endocannabinoids in the system are usually chronic and do not have treatment. For instance, irritable bowel syndrome is usually chronic and can only be managed. If a person lacks sufficient endocannabinoids, chances of suffering from certain conditions exist. As a result, people try boosting their ECS by using cannabinoids.
7 FAQS About Endocannabinoid System
Given that the subject of endocannabinoid systems is quite new, there are many questions regarding how it works and what can be done to improve its functions. This post has tried to answer most questions in regard to its molecular pharmacology and the physiological process involved. Even so, plenty of questions are yet to be addressed.
Below are the seven most frequently asked questions about the ECS that EVO Botanicals receives:
1. What Happens if the Endocannabinoid System is Stimulated?
It is possible to stimulate the endogenous cannabinoid system. One of the common ways of stimulating the system is by consuming foods rich in cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis and other plants from the cannabis family. For instance, endocannabinoids bind to THC, providing more efficient results.
Besides taking cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, studies have suggested that the cannabinoid system may be stimulated naturally. A person who lives a healthy life by engaging in physical exercises and avoids certain drugs is likely to have a healthy cannabinoid system.
2. How Do You Keep the Endocannabinoid System Healthy?
Most people believe that the only way to stimulate the ECS is by using medical marijuana. While marijuana may stimulate the system, it does not necessarily make the ECS healthy. A healthy ECS must be able to maintain homeostasis at all times. In other words, it should be able to continuously produce cannabinoids and bind its cannabinoid receptors to other cannabinoids.
Experts recommend eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, sea bass, mackerel, and sardines. They also recommend regular cardiovascular exercises, yoga, and meditation as the other ways of keeping the ECS healthy. Any person who wishes to maintain a healthy ECS must practice self-love and participate in daily exercises that stimulate the brain and the entire body.
3. How Important is the ECS?
The main role played by the ECS is maintaining homeostasis. In other words, without the ECS it is almost impossible for a person to live. The human body encounters trauma and attacks every day. It is the role of the endocannabinoid system to ensure that the attacks do not break the body down. A person may get attacked by viruses, but the ECS will mount a fight and help them recover.
Besides its role in homeostasis, the ECS also helps the body function by sending signals to the brain and other parts. All body organs must communicate for the efficient running of the internal processes. The ECS makes this possible by sending signals to all parts of the body to enhance balance.
4. How Does CBD Impact the ECS
The endocannabinoid levels in the body may be increased if a person takes CBD regularly. Interestingly, CBD does not support the production of endocannabinoids neither does it stimulate endocannabinoids to work. Researchers are yet to determine the exact critical role played by CBD in enhancing the functioning of the ECS.
What CBD is believed to do is to hinder the destruction of endocannabinoids. The body uses enzymes found in the ECS to naturally destroy endocannabinoids. CBD prevents the destruction of endocannabinoids, helping increase their levels in the body. It’s also important to mention that research is still underway to determine other uses of CBD in the ECS.
5. Does the Body Have Cannabinoid Receptors
Yes, the endocannabinoid system ECS naturally produces cannabinoid receptors. The human body has two primary receptors the CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are responsible for accepting and binding to cannabinoids when a person consumes cannabinoid-rich foods. For instance, a person smoking marijuana inhales THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD. THC binds to these receptors.
It is worth noting that not all cannabinoids can bind to these receptors. For instance, CB receptors can bind to THC, which is a cannabinoid but cannot bind to CBD. Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids derived from marijuana with therapeutic potential. However, they are used differently by the ECS.
6. Can You Reset Your Endocannabinoid System?
Most people have been concerned about the possibility of the ECS being damaged and needing a complete reset. Some studies have indicated that while cannabis helps stimulate the ECS, drug abuse such as smoking excessive marijuana may cause the destruction or imbalance of the ECS. Moreover, it is important to monitor the intake of cannabinoids and other substances.
In case the ECS is affected or imbalanced by taking excessive drugs, there is the hope of resetting the system. Although it may take time, the body naturally cleans out any substances that are making the system unbalanced. Once these substances are cleaned out, the body produces its natural endocannabinoids that will make the ECS functional.
7. How Many Cannabinoid Receptors are in the Human Body?
The known ECS receptors, for now, are just two. The CB1 and CB2 receptors are key components of the ECS and are the primary receptors that bind with cannabinoids to influence the functioning of the ECS. It is important to mention that more research is still underway to find out whether the ECS has other receptors. The ECS itself was only stumbled upon in the 1990s.
Medical experts believe that there is so much to the ECS that is yet to be known. Some experts argue that CBD binds to cannabinoid receptors that are not yet known. For now, we can safely say that the ECS has two receptors but that is only what is known. In the future, more receptors may be discovered.
The above questions are some of the most commonly asked in regards to the ECS. These questions mainly address the issues around cannabinoids, the use of cannabis, and the ways of improving the functions of the ECS. The answers provided above should shed light and help answer.
Using CBD to Boost Cannabinoid Receptors
Now that you know how cannabinoid receptors work and how vital they are, you have the freedom to boost your system using cannabinoids such as THC and CBD if you wish. If that is the case, make sure you purchase high-quality products that are produced in a transparent manner from EVO Botanicals today.
For more information about any CBD product on our website, feel free to contact us by email or call us.