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7 essential questions about your body’s endocannabinoid system

Have you ever heard of the endocannabinoid system (ECS)? If this is the first time you run into this information, get ready for an incredible discovery!  

What is the endocannabinoid system? It is an incredible network of receptors at the cellular level that is found throughout the body. Most of these cannabinoid (CB) receptors are found in the brain, but they also exist in your organs, your skin, your bones and connective tissues.

As a counterpart to these receptors, the body also produces endocannabinoids, which bind to CB receptors to complete a communication process called neurotransmission, which involves almost our entire organism.

The objective of this ECS is to achieve homeostasis in almost all the metabolic processes of your body. This system is so vital that Dr. Dustin Sulak describes it as "perhaps the most important physiological system involved in the establishment and maintenance of human health."

It turns out that the cannabis plant contains phytocannabinoids that interact with the ECS in the same way as the endocannabinoids produced by the body. This positions cannabis as the perfect complement of nature for this essential system.

The more you learn about how the endocannabinoid system works, the better you'll understand why cannabis is so effective in treating so many different diseases.

Does it interest you to know more? Next we answer 7 frequently asked questions about the endocannabinoid system.

1) Why does the endocannabinoid system (ECS) imply the name of cannabis?

ECS was first discovered while a group of scientists watched as THC (a cannabis component) interacted with the body. They saw how the THC molecule bound to many receptors in the brain followed by the observation that these same receptors exist in most of the body. This led to the discovery of endocannabinoids!

Simply put, we might not have discovered this important system if it weren't for cannabis!

2) What metabolic processes does it help to regulate?

A study by Dr. Sunil Aggarwal in 2016 indicates that the ECS plays an important role in the following processes:

  • Mood regulation
  • Memory
  • Pain perception
  • Extinction of traumatic memories
  • Bone growth
  • Baby Breastfeeding Reward
  • Eye pressure
  • Convulsive activity
  • Appetite
  • Inflammation
  • Muscle tone and movement
  • Protection of nerves and brain tissue
  • Tumor regulation
  • Stress management
  • Gastrointestinal motility
  • …and many more!

3) What does the endocannabinoid system really look like?

The endocannabinoid system is a system at the cellular level, that means you cannot see it with the naked eye. However, if you reduced to molecular size, you would see that cannabinoid receptors are located on the surface of cells.

Martin Lee of "Project CBD" describes the ECS as follows: "It consists of 472 amino acids linked in a wrinkled chain that ripples back and forth across the cell membrane seven times."

4) How cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system?

Cannabinoids act directly and indirectly on our cannabinoid receptors.

Some cannabinoids can act as agonists, that means they activate certain receptors. Other cannabinoids can act as antagonists, essentially deactivating the receptors.

If the endocannabinoid system is not working properly, you can supplement the system using the correct combination and amount of cannabinoids to make these signals work properly.

"More of this signal, less of that signal."

Your body is a continuous symphony and the endocannabinoid system is the conductor!

5) Is excessive cannabis use harmful to the endocannabinoid system?

In the short term, cannabis can definitely interfere with the endocannabinoid system, if it is consumed too much. The endocannabinoid system has to do with balance; tilting it too much in any direction can have adverse effects.

It is useful to recognize that cannabis is a biphasic substance. This means, for example, that it can be effective in controlling nausea, but if you drink too much you can make the symptoms of nausea worse. The same applies when using cannabis for the management of anxiety, depression, pain, etc.

It is also important to emphasize that the intensive use of cannabis will probably increase your tolerance in a short period of time, requiring larger doses for the desired effects.

A 48-hour break is usually enough for CB receptors to “restart”, and can be resumed with smaller doses of cannabis to experience greater benefits.

6) Are there other ways to take care of the endocannabinoid system?

Yes! Regular exercise and good nutrition are extremely important for a healthy endocannabinoid system.

Additionally there are spices such as turmeric that can also strengthen ECS, as well as essential fatty acids.

7) When will the study of the endocannabinoid system be integrated into the medical school curriculum?

Some people suggest that medical schools are controlled by the pharmaceutical industry. Accepting the endocannabinoid system officially will force the pharmaceutical industry to recognize the legitimacy of cannabis as a medicine.

Other people believe that medical schools are moving away from the endocannabinoid system due to the federal cannabis ban.

Either way, it's a shame when politics and business get in the way of health.

In summary, the endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid (CB) receptors, together with endocannabinoids, which interact to carry out physiological tasks to promote homeostasis in the body.

Essentially, that balance in the body is what keeps us healthy and functional, that is why it is so important that we are at the forefront, always ensuring that this integral system keeps operating perfectly.