The endocannabinoid system plays many roles throughout our bodies. It regulates balance in our body's immune response, communication between cells, appetite and metabolism, memory and more.
The Endocannabinoid system (ECS) was officially discovered in the early to mid-1990's by Raphael Mechoulam, as well as NIMH researchers William Devane and Dr. Lumir Hanus.
The ECS is, perhaps, the most important physiological system in establishing and maintaining human health and it runs throughout the body. Within the ECS, we have what are called CB receptors. When these receptors are firing on all cylinders, then our bodies to go into what is called homeostasis, the balance of bodily functions.
Back when hemp was legal, farmers were encouraged to grow hemp for rope, paper and many other things. Since hemp was so abundant, farmers would also feed it to their farm animals and in turn, we would consume the farm animals. In doing so, we were supplementing our ECS and putting our bodies into homeostasis.
Then came the 1930's and hemp was outlawed. Since the farm animals were no longer eating hemp, our bodies became deficient of cannabinoids and in turn, took our bodies out of homeostasis.
Now with discovery of the endocannabinoid system and the understanding of the health benefits of CBD, we can feed this system and maintain better health.
There are many CB receptors throughout the body, but the two main ones are the CB 1 and the CB 2. The CB 1 is located in our brain and balances and regulates our neurological system. The CB 2 regulates and balances our immune system. Like a key that fits into a lock, endocannabinoids interact with these receptors. Research articles of evidence can be found here.
Our bodies produce their own natural phytocannabinoids, but we do not produce enough to maintain human health on its own. For that reason, we need to supplement our ECS. This can be done in many ways. We can take a supplement through a capsule, liquid or a gel form.
There is also evidence that the endocannabinoid system may aid in the deletion of old memories. The extinction of aversive memories is important to the progress of PTSD patients and in behavior conditioning for those with chronic anxiety. By allowing patients to forget painful memories, they can reset their stress and anxiety responses to certain experiences and substitute a more positive reaction.
Appetite & Weight
Cannabis has a well-known ability to increase appetite. However, because endocannabinoids are used internally for appetite control, inverse agonists to the CB1 receptor can be used to combat obesity by shutting off the body’s desire for food. The opposite can be accomplished by stimulating appetite in those suffering from wasting syndrome and allowing them to gain weight.
Finally, endocannabinoids also regulate metabolism and help control the transfer of energy through cells, ensuring optimal use of the food we do take in.
In today’s world, it is a common reality that the natural cycle of anxiety and physical response cannot be shut off due to constant exposure to stressors. Because cannabinoids affect the body’s glandular response to continued stress to regulate and temper response, this bodily process has implications for the way in which modern humans process long-term stress and other enduring anxiety triggers.
Immune Function & Inflammation
Additionally, endocannabinoids promote proper immune function to allow for a greater overall wellness. The role they play in immune homeostasis prevents “spontaneous activation of immune cell function”, helping to prevent inflammation and chronic neurological diseases.
The endocannabinoid system is literally a bridge between our body and our mind.