ECS is a very extensive regulatory network that extends over the entire body. Its most important task is to support the state of balance (homeostasis) between our biological systems. When the body and mind are in balance, we deal with stress, disorders, and diseases much better.
What are endocannabinoids?
ECS is a relatively recent discovery. Its existence was confirmed at the end of the 20th century. In 1990, CB1 receptors were the first to be discovered and isolated while CB2 receptors were isolated a few years later. At the same time, the endocannabinoid anandamide was identified. In pursuit of the exploration of more endocannabinoids, scientists discovered an entire endocannabinoid system that is capable of monitoring cell signaling throughout the body.
Endocannabinoids are signaling molecules produced by the human body in order to stimulate the work of receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Their synthesis always takes place as needed, one might say, on-demand.
How does the endocannabinoid system work?
To initiate its action, the endocannabinoid system must be activated by endocannabinoids or exogenous cannabinoids (i.e. cannabinoids from the external environment, such as CBD). This process happens due to the presence of receptors – CB1 and CB2.
CB1 receptors are located in the brain and parts of the central nervous system. CB2 receptors are found in the digestive and immune systems.
If the receptor binds to the appropriate cannabinoid, the endocannabinoid system begins restoring the body’s balance. Studies have shown that their action affects important functions of our organism, for instance:
- energy level
- stress (including anxiety regulation)
- immune functions
- female reproductive system.
We still have a long way to go before we fully know the potential of the ECS. It can be used not only to support favorable biological reactions but by blocking receptors it is possible to limit certain functions.
All vertebrate species have CB1 receptors and CB2. The endocannabinoid system has developed during evolution about 500 million years ago. Through this time this arrangement has adapted to fulfill many sometimes subtle functions in the CNS. There are a number of studies that show CBD as a positive tool in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and as compounds stimulating the appetite in patients in cachexia accompanying AIDS and neoplastic diseases and the usage of cannabis is continuously evaluating with promising results by triggering a beneficial response from our ECS.
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The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Nih.gov. Accessed 5/13/2021.