The Science – The Endocannabinoid System

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Undoubtedly, a wide range of people have read or came across gratifying stories, particularly relating to the potential health benefits of CBD. Is it the effectiveness in managing stress? Or the treatment of inflammation? Or probably stories about how it helps golfers alleviate pain, boost immunity, and more? The truth is CBD has a whole lot of health benefits.

But the question relating to why and how it works to carry out these wide-ranging health benefits opens an avenue to learn about one of the most prominent systems in the nervous system. And that’s the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

If you do not know, this system is responsible for all the effects of CBD in the body. Have you heard about the endocannabinoid system? Do you want to learn the reason for the effectiveness of CBD in the body? Or probably you want to know how the Endocannabinoid System works? This article seeks to unravel the mysteries behind the Endocannabinoid system and how it performs its statutory functions. Let’s get started:

What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?

The endocannabinoid system was discovered in the early part of the 1990s. According to scientists, this is one of the major systems in the body responsible for regulating several bodily functions. For this system to perform its primary functions, it is activated by cannabinoids that are naturally produced from the body. Apart from that, it can also be activated by cannabinoids that are derived from plants. As you might have guessed, that’s a pointer to unravel the source of the name given to this system.

Some of the essential functions regulated by the endocannabinoid system include appetite, sleep, female reproductive system, immune system, and memory. According to studies, it has also been revealed that the endocannabinoid system is also responsible for regulating other bodily functions like temperature, maintenance of balance, or homeostasis in the body.

How Does the Endocannabinoid System Works?

In order to fully understand the endocannabinoid system, there is a need for a critical study of the mechanism of action.

For instance,

Let’s imagine that Robert had an injury during golf training for an upcoming tournament. He accidentally hit his leg on a stone. At this point, you’ll observe a sharp pain at the site of the injury.  After this immediate pain, it also subsides quickly. This is due to the action of the endocannabinoid system. It immediately produces a chemical component known as endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids interact with the body cells to eliminate unpleasant sensations such as that pain.  

The central nervous system then recruits enzymes to halt or slow down the pain sensations. These enzymes proceed further by activating special molecules known as the endocannabinoids. The two primary endocannabinoids that are recruited are anandamide and 2-AG. They either halt the pain completely to reduce the impact on the body.

Anandamide

This endocannabinoid is also referred to as the “bliss molecule.” Why? It is due to its effectiveness in the regulation of bodily functions such as emotion and mood. Low levels of anandamide in the body can be associated with health conditions like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and many more. Many of the drugs prescribed by medical personnel for health conditions like pain and depression trigger an increase in the body’s anandamide levels.

2-AG (2-Arachodnylglycerol)

Studies have revealed that one of the primary roles of 2-AG endocannabinoid is to facilitate or trigger the reduction of inflammation. This, however, does not exclude this chemical compound from performing other essential functions relating to the immune system. Like anandamide, 2-AG functions effectively in regulating bodily functions such as emotions, mood, and perception of pain. Apart from that, it also plays a crucial role in regulating the sleep cycle, memory, and reproductive health.

In reality, the endocannabinoids are like messengers. And their primary function is to activate specific body cells. They can be likened to a key that has a primary role of opening or activating a lock. In this case, these locks are the receptors present on a wide range of body cells. The most popular ones are the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2).

Let’s take a second look at the earlier illustration that explained how Robert hit his leg on a sharp stone during his training for the upcoming tournament. The enzymes created in this scenario are the endocannabinoids. Their primary function is to activate or trigger the right body receptor that is responsible for pain relief. This process is a fast one, and it occurs in a twinkle of an eye.

How Does Endocannabinoids Interact with Plant-Derived Cannabis?

What is the relationship between cannabis and the endocannabinoid system? This could be unraveled if you check the order of discovering these molecules by the scientist at that time.

Scientific studies led to the discovery of the cannabinoid receptors. This was when scientists were actively searching for the best way to clearly understand the mechanism of action of plant-based cannabinoids interacts with the body. And the most popular phytocannabinoids discovered at that time was the THC. THC was named cannabinoids during this research, which the same name was given to the chemicals that actually activate them.

When scientists furthered their studies and found that the body produces similar molecules that act as receptors, they now came about the name; endocannabinoids. (Endo simply refers to “internal” while Phyto simply means “plant-related.”

In summary, cannabinoid receptors act as the lock, and endocannabinoids such as 2-AG represent the original master key. THC will serve as the spare key. This is because it triggers similar receptors as endocannabinoids like anandamide. While THC can be found in plants, endocannabinoids like anandamide can be found in animals.

There you have it! Perhaps the Endocannabinoid system and how it works. In subsequent write-ups, we’ll unravel the functions of the Endocannabinoid System in general.

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