What Does the Endocannabinoid System Do?

Every human has an innate desire for balance. There are a number of activities such as yoga and meditation to help balance the body and mind. We eat a balanced diet and may even add specific vitamins and minerals for better-balanced health.

But, did you know that we actually have a specific system in our body that monitors and regulates our body’s Homeostasis, or human balance? It’s called the Endocannabinoid System, or ECS. It was only discovered in the early 1990s, yet it may be the largest system in our body!

Discovering the ECS

Back in the 1960s, Dr. Rafael Mechoulam and his group of researchers became interested in the bioactivity of cannabis and eventually isolated many of its active compounds. Their curiosity and determination led them to not only understand cannabis and its constituents, but found that there is an entire system that interacts with cannabis, and actually produces similar human-made compounds.

This system isn’t an isolated structural system that’s easy to see, like the cardiovascular, digestive, or central nervous systems. Instead, the ECS consists of receptors that are widely distributed throughout the brain and body. 

The two that are verified are called the CB1 and CB2 receptors. 

There are also specific particles, called endocannabinoids (which are endogenous or human-made cannabinoids) which fit into these CB1 and CB2 receptors. The two most researched endocannabinoids are called Anandamide and Arachidonoylglycerol, which is a mouthful, so we call it 2AG. These Endocannabinoids act as retrograde, or return neurotransmitters. 

The other important parts of this system are the enzymes that synthesize and degrade these endocannabinoids. These cannabinoids are believed to be synthesized on an as-needed basis, meaning, as certain stimulus presents itself in the body or brain, the cannabinoids are then synthesized to help up or down-regulate the system in which it correlates.

The Role of the Endocannabinoid System

This internal adaptogenic system is constantly adjusting to keep an internal equilibrium. Just to give you an idea of how important this system is, the following is a list of just a few of the physiological functions the ECS is thought to regulate:

  • Sleep/Circadian Rhythm
  • Appetite
  • Mood
  • Temperature
  • Pain Signaling
  • Stress Response
  • Digestion
  • Reproduction
  • Bone and Skin health
  • And more

Stay tuned to find out more about this system and how we can better support it!