The Endocannabinoid System
by Rodrigo Diaz
2 years ago
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a self-regulating system of receptors that are found throughout the entire body including the central nervous system, Immune system, and organs. The receptors work on a lock-and-key relationship and when functioning properly, the ECS produces compounds called endocannabinoids that in turn, nourish the ECS. From what has been proven, the ECS' primary function is to maintain an optimal state for our body's internal, physical, and chemical conditions (homeostasis).
Identified in the 90's by researching the effects of THC, the ECS was found to be active, even without our bodies interacting with cannabis. It works to include three core compounds. Endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes.
These are compounds made by our own body that keep our internal functions stable. These compounds are produced as needed when a system in the body is not at homeostasis. Two endocannabinoids have been found to date:
- Anandamide (AEA)
- 2-Arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG)
Read more about these two compounds in this detailed medical article; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4789136/
Receptors that are found throughout the body. Endocannabinoids bind to them to activate the endocannabinoid system at specific points in the body due to an unbalance. Two main endocannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2. Although they are both found scattered throughout the body, CB1 and CB2, interestingly, are each found mainly in specific regions
- CB1 Receptors: Mostly found mostly in the central nervous system and less in the peripheral organs (Brain, vascular system, reproductive organs, lungs, liver, etc.)
- CB2 Receptors: Commonly found in the peripheral organs (bones, skin, liver, bone marrow, etc.), especially cells associated with the immune system
Other receptors which are found in (but not exclusive to) specific areas of the body: TRVP1 (Concentrated in blood), TRVP2 (Mainly in skin tissue), GPR 18 (Bone marrow), GPR55 (bones, cerebellum), GPR119 (pancreas).
Enzymes are proteins which act as catalysts (accelerate chemical processes); once endocannabinoids have carried out their function, it is up the the enzymes to break them down further.
The ECS is an intricate system that even experts have not yet determined it's full potential or exactly how it fully works. Yet, the ECS has been linked to the homeostasis of the following processes:
- appetite and digestion
- chronic pain
- Inflammation and other immune system responses
- learning and memory
- motor control
- cardiovascular system function
- muscle formation
- bone remodeling and growth
- liver function
- reproductive system function
- skin and nerve function
Further studies on the ECS are yet to be made and clinical trials to be completed. We'll keep you up to date on the functions of the ECS in particular when interacting with the skin, called the Cutaneous Endocannabinoid System (Cutannabinoid System).