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The endocannabinoid system (ECS) and our body

Chemical formula of CBD and a hemp plant next to it, all on black background.
Dr. George Stantchev, PhD
Dr. George Stantchev, PhD

Holds a PhD & MS in Electromagnetics & Electrical Engineering Technology

What does Hemp give us?

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about cannabidiol (also called CBD oil), its effects and its potential as a therapeutic agent in the fight against depression, anxiety, burn-out syndrome, excessive stress, insomnia, and even cancer.

CBD is one of the main cannabinoids in the industrial hemp (plant Cannabis Sativa). However, very few of us know exactly what causes its action, we do not know what it does and how it works.

Before we start talking about the marvelous CBD molecule that is used in various products and oils, however, we need to understand what the endocannabinoid system (ES) is, the one that is responsible for the observed effects of cannabidiol, as well as a basic mechanism that is embedded in the way our bodies function.

What is the endocannabinoid system?

pose body brain human and how the marijuana extract influence it

At school we have learned that there are 10 basic body functional systems in the human body. Those are the circulatory system, the respiratory system, the excretory system, the reproductive system, the nervous system, the muscular system, the endocrine system, the lymphatic system and the gastrointestinal system.

Did you know that in addition to the above-mentioned systems, there is also an endocannabinoid system (ECS)? Of course not, because if you are not a doctor or do not work with medical cannabis, it is unlikely that you will read about it. And still some scientists call the ECS system “the most important physiological system that participates in the establishing and maintaining of human health.”

Imagine that cell receptors in the body are a series of houses, each of them has a set of keys. These receptor keys are chemical molecules called “agonists.” Each time an agonist attaches to a cell receptor, it sends a signal and gives a specific order to the cell. 

The endocannabinoid system consists of two primary cellular receptors – CB1 and CB2. The agonists or keys to these receptors are actually cannabinoids that are produced in the body, but also cannabinoids that enter the body from the external environment, such as those from CBD oil.

What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?

We do not have a full cap on what the ECS does, but we know that the ECS helps to fine-tune most of the vital physics. It promotes homeostasis and affects the processes that regulate sleep, appetite, pain, inflammation, memory, nausea and even depression. The ECS helps to regulate homeostasis in all major systems of the body, which guarantees that all systems work together.

It is often mistakenly thought that endocannabinoid receptors are found exclusively in the brain. This is not entirely true, as they can be found in some glands as well as in immune cells. The functions of the receptors are mainly to maintain the balance in the body and to monitor the proper course of homeostasis.

The receptors that act as locks in the endocannabinoid system are CB1 and CB2.

CB1 receptors are found in abundance mainly in the central nervous system (CNS) – the cerebral cortex, basal ganglia, hypothalamus, cerebellum and less in the periphery.

CB2-receptors predominate in the tissues of the immune system – spleen, tonsils, thymus, immune cells.

Every lock needs a key.

The keys that unlock the receptors are called ligands. These are small biologically active molecules that interact with receptors in different ways and “unlock” them.

They can also be produced by the human body, and in ECS such ligands are anandamide (its name comes from the Sanskrit word “ananda”, which means bliss) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol.

When ligands are imported into the body from the outside, they have an exogenous origin. In our case, these are the molecules of CBD and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol).

By their action, exogenous ligands can be agonists (resembling the effect of an endogenous ligand) or antagonists (bind to the receptor and block the action of endogenous ligands).

Although studies of the endocannabinoid system are still very fragile, they are very promising in terms of the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of a number of diseases.

Scientists have found that ECS plays an immediate role in homeostasis by regulating the proper course of all metabolic processes. in the body.

As Dr. Sunil Agarwal pointed out at the US National Conference on Cannabis Treatment, the endocannabinoid system plays a role in processes such as:

  • mood regulation
  • appetite
  • memory
  • inflammation
  • pain sensation
  • muscle tone and movement
  • erasing traumatic memories
  • protecting nerves and brain tissue
  • bone growth
  • regulation of tumors
  • pleasure in breastfeeding
  • stress management
  • intraocular pressure
  • gastrointestinal peristalsis
  • seizures
  • and many others

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