Endocannabinoid System

The Endocannabinoid System: An Overview

Most of us are aware of the transmitter systems that are within the body. These include the sympathetic nervous system that brings the flight or fight response. All the same, not so many people have heard about the newly discovered system known as the endocannabinoid system, denoted as ECS. It is important that you discover this system is very important in almost any aspect of our functioning.

Ideally, the ECS is responsible for regulating and controlling so many important body functions. These include memory and learning, sleep, emotions processing, pain control, eating, temperature control and immune response. In this article, you will have everything about the endocannabinoid system explained.

What is Endocannabinoid System?

So what is the endocannabinoid system, also known as the ECS? Let us take a look at the term ‘endocannabinoid.’ Cannabinoid is a term that comes from cannabis, and ‘endo’ is the short form for endogenous which means being naturally produced in the body. This, therefore, means that endocannabinoids are cannabis-like substances that occur naturally in our bodies. The endocannabinoid system is comprised of three parts which are endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes.

Other than the ECS being a natural part of our body, it is very important. You have probably heard about the medicinal properties claims of cannabinoids CBD and THC, and marijuana in general. With the unrelated effects, you might think this is just hype to legalize the drug. All the same, medical science has backed up these claims, and the effects have so much to do with the ECS. Below is a detailed explanation of the ECS components.

Major Components of the Endocannabinoid System

Cannabinoid Receptors

These receptors are all over the body. Endocannabinoids will bind to them so as to signal the endocannabinoid system is about to take action. There are 2 major endocannabinoid receptors, namely CB1 and CB2 receptors. You will find CB1 receptors in your central nervous system, while the CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system, particularly the immune cells.

Endocannabinoids can bind with any of these receptors. The resulting effects will depend on the location of the receptor as well as the endocannabinoid it will bind to. For instance, endocannabinoids can target the CB1 receptors in the spinal nerve for relieving pain. Others can bind to CB2 receptors in the immune cells. This signals that the body is experiencing some inflammation which is a sign of the autoimmune disorders.


Endocannabinoids are also referred to as endogenous cannabinoids, which are molecules that are made by the body. They are the same as cannabinoids with the exemption that the body makes them. So far, experts have identified two main endocannabinoids: anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG). These are responsible for keeping the internal functions running flawlessly. The body will produce them as required, meaning that it is difficult to understand the typical level for each.

Metabolic Enzymes

These are involved in breaking down endocannabinoids after they have executed their function. There are 2 main enzymes that are responsible for that. The fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) enzyme is responsible for breaking down AEA, while the monoacylglycerol acid lipase enzyme is responsible for breaking down 2-AG.

Endocannabiniod system

The Endocannabinoid System’s Role

The ECS is complex, and experts are yet to determine exactly the manner in which it works and all its potential functions. However, research has associated the endocannabinoid system with the processes below:

  • Metabolism
  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • Chronic pain
  • Appetite and digestion
  • Immune system responses
  • Motor control
  • Skin and nerve function
  • Learning and memory
  • Reproductive system functions
  • Muscle formation
  • Stress
  • Cardiovascular system functioning
  • Bone growth
  • Liver functioning

All these functions are responsible for homeostasis, which is simply the stability of the internal environment in human beings. Take, for instance, when an outside force like pain, fever or injury destabilizes the body’s homeostasis. The endocannabinoid system chips in to assist the body to get back to its normal operation. Experts believe that the main role of the endocannabinoid system in maintaining homeostasis.

Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters produced by the body that connect to cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system. CBD has been demonstrated to alleviate chronic pain by changing endocannabinoid receptor activation, decreasing inflammation, and interacting with neurotransmitters, according to research. So, if you take high dosage of CBD than it can effect your body badly because CBD effects differently from person to person. You have to know about proper CBD dosage so that way you won’t have side effects.

Learning and Memory

We are aware that the endocannabinoid system has a main role in your learning and memory, according to different lines of research. One of the obvious observations is the temporary short-memory disruption that happens after high dosage of recreational cannabis. After abstinence, the memory reverts back to normal. Similarly, there have been sophisticated studies on how humans will acutely respond to THC administration, the active ingredient of cannabis. The studies have also looked into the manner in which THC alters the ability of users to memorize stuff in the short term.

Forgetting has an important role in the brain’s ability to function without getting overloaded with data from the senses. The role of the endocannabinoid system in forgetting similarly opens chances for treating PTSD. This is a condition where you experience unpleasant and intrusive memories that individuals cannot help but remember. This causes an entire syndrome of dangerous symptoms that are associated with pathological remembering.

Hunger and Weight-Loss Medications

The ability of the ECS to do this is in line with the drug rimonabant. This is a drug that normally blocks the CB1 receptor. The drug was made to curb obesity with the thinking that the ECS controls hunger. This is known for, among other facts, that cannabis brings you ‘munchies.’ If you, therefore, block the CB1 receptor, you should discover weight loss. The drug served its purpose of weight loss, but it had to be withdrawn from the market very fast. This is because the ECS also regulates mood, and people who took the drug were turning suicidal.

The Bottom Line

Not everything has been discovered about the endocannabinoid system. However, research has it that the ECS has a very important role in maintaining good balance as well as the proper functioning of the human body. As we have just said, the endocannabinoid system is comprised of enzymes, endocannabinoids and receptors. All these work together to help maintain stability in different processes like mood, temperature, and sleep. The system might contain different therapeutic targets that researchers will use and help treat different health conditions.

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