It is a perfectly natural and healthy system that our bodies need. Discovered less than thirty years ago by an American scientist by the name of Dr. Allyn Howlett, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for a number of biological processes, perhaps least of which include the reception and interaction with compounds found in cannabis.
The system itself encompasses the molecules found in our bodies, our natural cannabinoids, as well as the receptors and pathways that these molecules are interacting with. Activities that are regulated by the endocannabinoid system include appetite, mood, memory, and even sleep.
The endocannabinoid system is the reason that medical marijuana can have such useful effects on our bodies. Medical marijuana can act on the endocannabinoid system and thus treat a number of ailments.
Cannabinoids are more than just the compounds found in marijuana plants. They are also chemicals found in our bodies. Cannabinoids are any of the group of chemicals that has some sort of interaction with the endocannabinoid system.
Although it is not the only source of cannabinoids, marijuana does provide more that 85 cannabinoids (including THC, CBD, and CBN). That being said, the cannabinoids found within the body are technically known as “endocannabinoids.” This is simply because endo is short for endogenous, and endogenous refers to the fact that it is inside of the body.
The most common endocannabinoids are 2-AG, and Anandamide, the latter of which is likely the best known, or at least has received the most attention lately. These molecules are released by the body when necessary, although they don’t exactly have the same effects as marijuana does, in particular, the effects don’t last nearly as long due to the fact that the body is able to break them down more quickly than the cannabinoids from marijuana.
The endocannabinoid receptors
The endocannabinoid system would be useless if it did not have its CB1 and CB2 receptors. There are a large number of different types of receptors contained within the body, but the CB1 and CB2 receptors are the ones that interact with cannabinoids.
CB1 receptors are generally found in the brain, and they cause the psychoactive effects from marijuana use. These receptors interact in brain jobs such as feeling pain, appetite, sleep, mood, and memory.
CB2 receptors are located primarily within the immune system and therefore have the ability to have anti-inflammatory effects. This is because the immune response to many diseases is inflammation, so its strategic location is certainly useful in this regard.
The effects of the endocannabinoid system
The endocannabinoid system helps with functions including sleep, mood, appetite, pain sensation, memory, and immune response, but it also deals with physiological processes including organ function, circulation, and energy metabolism. It often works in response to any illnesses that may affect your body. People who have certain disorders, including Parkinson’s Disease and arthritis, have been found to have higher endocannabinoid levels.
Because of this response to illness, it is thought that the endocannabinoid system exists to maintain homeostasis of the body. This is a hugely important role in any body, as it keeps the overall functions under stable conditions. For this reason, further studies in the endocannabinoid system could lead to huge strides in medicine, especially when it comes to the treatment and understanding of illnesses.