The Endocannabinoid System
Explaining the Endocannabinoid System and Its Purpose in YOUR Body
Endocannabinoid System (ECS). We’ve all got one… In fact, your ECS runs throughout your entire body. Although very few of us are aware it exists or understand what it does within our bodies, it plays a crucial role in our health and well-being.
We want to break it down for you as simply and as quickly as possible!
Homeostasis – Our Bodies in Balance
Our bodies have an innate desire to remain in balance. Why? Because our cells operate at optimum performance when our body is in balance. . . When our blood sugar levels are normal, when our body temperature is in normal ranges, when our stress levels are low, etc. We use the term ‘homeostasis’ to describe this state of balance within our bodies. The Endocannabinoid System’s role within our body is to maintain homeostasis and thus promote health throughout the body.
The Endocannabinoid System Within Us
The ECS consists of receptors that are configured to accept cannabinoids – including endocannabinoids that are synthesized by the body, and phytocannabinoids that are found in plants like hemp (such as THC and CBD). Two of the receptors within our Endocannabinoid System are known as CB1 and CB2. They are not the only receptors, but to date, they are the most studied. As depicted by the image, these receptors are all throughout our body. Cannabinoids bind to these receptors, giving them information about the environment of the body. . . the cannabinoid receptors in turn activate the appropriate cellular response within the cell.
A plethora of diseases (chronic and otherwise) have been linked to a subpar Endocannabinoid System. Introducing phytocannabinoids into the system gives our ECS a huge boost and helps bring our body back to optimum performance levels.
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A Little History
The discovery of the ECS began in 1895 with the identification and isolation of the very first phytocannabinoid, cannabinol (CBN), by Sivey, Wood, and Easterfield. It was not until the 1940s that the second phytocannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), was identified.
In 1963, renowned Israeli researcher, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, and a team of researchers successfully identified the chemical structure of CBD. In the following year, Dr. Mechoulam isolated and identified the psychoactive cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Those monumental research breakthroughs helped scientists to learn more about the pharmacology, biochemistry, and clinical effects of the cannabinoids. However, none were able to understand the exact science behind why they worked. Researchers acknowledged that cannabinoids were able to reduce nausea, quell seizures, relieve pain and swelling, improve sleep, and stimulate appetite on a molecular level. . . But were unclear on the exact science behind it.
In the early and mid-90’s, Dr. Mechoulam and colleagues identified two of the body’s naturally produced endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, thus discovering the Endocannabinoid System!
Scientists are still learning about the role that the ECS plays in our health. They have established that the system helps regulate a plethora of processes in our body, like sleep, appetite, digestion, mood, motor control, immune function, reproduction and fertility, pleasure and reward, memory, temperature regulation, and pain. In cases where the ECS is disrupted because the body fails to produce enough endocannabinoids, disease and disorders can develop. Fortunately, we can supplement our ECS with phytocannabinoids, such as CBD!
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