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The Endocannabinoid System Explained

What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulam conducted significant cannabis research that ultimately led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in 1992. This incredible biological find has completely revolutionized how we understand brain chemistry and how the body heals. It is a biochemical communication system made up of lipid-based neurotransmitters. Having evolved over 500 million years ago, it is found in all humans, mammals, and any organism with a spine.

The Role of the Endocannabinoid System

It plays a crucial role in all physiological functions including pain, sleep, appetite, fertility, mood, stress, metabolism, immune function, memory, and more. While the endocannabinoid system is still under research, it is now believed to play a critical role in pre-and postnatal development as well. The main function of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain homeostasis across all bodily functions.

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The Purpose of Endocannabinoids

It produces endocannabinoids, which are versatile signaling molecules. Two main endocannabinoids have been identified as anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, 2-AG. These endocannabinoids are both involved in the regulation of immune system function, appetite, and pain management.

Cannabinoid Receptors

Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the body and are an integral part of the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoid receptors are cell membrane receptors that are activated by endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids derived from plants), and synthetic cannabinoids. Their role is to transmit information about changing conditions within cells to provide the appropriate bodily response. Cannabinoid receptors are responsible for interacting with THC, resulting in the subsequent euphoric high feeling.

Two types of cannabinoid receptors have been identified so far CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mainly found throughout the brain as well as the liver, lungs, and kidney. CB2 receptors are found throughout hematopoietic cells and the immune system. However, both cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body. Other cannabinoid receptors have been long suspected but are still being researched.

Endocannabinoids are transmitted throughout the body to corresponding cannabinoid receptors, which trigger the inhibitory feedback system built into the endocannabinoid system. When endocannabinoids attach to these cannabinoid receptors, the body’s inflammatory response to external stressors is relieved. Whenever the inhibitory feedback system is engaged, the endocannabinoid system responds by nudging the body towards homeostasis.

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Metabolic Enzymes

The last key component of the endocannabinoid system is metabolic enzymes. These enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids after they serve their signaling purpose. The two major metabolic enzymes are FAAH and MAGL. FAAH is responsible for breaking down anandamide while MAGL is responsible for breaking down 2-AG. This offers a clear distinction between endocannabinoids and other signaling molecules in the body which can remain active for several seconds or minutes, or become recycled for later use.

Also Read: What Is The Difference Between CBD And THC?

CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

Endocannabinoids can become depleted due to chronic stress, poor exercise or diet, as well as pre-genetic disposition. Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency is now hypothesized as a significant contributor to a wide scope of chronic conditions including migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and more.

CBD has the same chemical makeup as the endocannabinoids that our bodies inherently produce. This phytocannabinoid is capable of activating our cannabinoid receptors in the same way. When CBD is introduced to our biology, it attaches to our cannabinoid receptors ultimately nudging our endocannabinoid system to reach mind-body harmony without giving the user the “high” that THC does.

Learn More About the Endocannabinoid System

Hemp Depot is proud to educate all of our clients on all things CBD. The endocannabinoid system has changed the way we understand how our body heals and has opened numerous doors for further research. For more information regarding the endocannabinoid system, please contact us!


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