What is the Endocannabinoid System?
We have only just stumbled across the significance of the ECS, short for the endocannabinoid system, which is now attributed to as one of the most critical systems of the body that you have never been aware of.
While The Endocannabinoid System is one of the principal structures in the body, it is not like the central nervous system or the reproductive system, an independent structural system. The Endocannabinoid System instead is widely distributed across the body and consists of its own receptors located on almost every organ in the body, like miniature charging points.
The very first thing to understand about this profound discovery is that there is an inbuilt endocannabinoid mechanism for every person on the planet. The second is that receptors make up our endocannabinoid system. The third is that the cannabinoids present in the Cannabis Sativa plant bind with the receptors in our endocannabinoid system in various ways and that the cannabis plant is capable of producing various effects on human health by way of this interaction.
How was the Endocannabinoid System discovered?
You may be surprised to know that the endocannabinoid system was discovered recently, or only at least several years after learning the advantages of THC or CBD on the human body. Before the discovery, studies showed that THC had the tendency to change the artificial cell membrane (made from cholesterol and phospholipids). So experts believed that THC caused its effects on humans by changing the cellular behavior and disturbing the cell membrane. However, in 1973, scientists got clues about the human opiate receptor. But they were not sure of its impact and function.
The research continued, and in the 1980s, Allyn Howlett’s lab found evidence of cannabinoid receptors in the human body. By 1988, they introduced a new method that allowed researchers to detect receptors by radiolabeling. This lab found that the brain has several receptors. Additionally, in 1990, experts found the cannabinoid (CB1) receptor in both rats and humans. Later, in 1993, scientists cloned the second cannabinoid receptor (CB2) in Sean Munro’s lab in Cambridge. The scientists looked for the endogenous compounds in the human body that activate these receptors. After extensive research, they discovered hundreds of endocannabinoids in the human body. But this led to other questions. What role do these receptors play in the human body? Why does your body prepare these types of compounds in so much quantity?
Experts found that endocannabinoids respond differently compared to other neurotransmitters. Almost all the neurotransmitters are stored in vesicles. Your body keeps them there until you need them for any purpose. However, your body produces endocannabinoids on-demand, i.e., when it needs them. Scientists also figured out that endogenous cannabinoids regulate the function of serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters. They are also responsible for the healing of your body.
Since the endocannabinoid system’s discovery, experts are investigating its impact on memory, appetite, mood, metabolism, pain, sleep, immunity, thermoregulation, and inflammation. Moreover, this system also plays a vital role in the reproduction process. Today, there are multiple research studies going on to understand the effect of ECS on the human body and how it can help to deal with human diseases.
What does the Endocannabinoid System do?
The endocannabinoid system works to maintain the equilibrium between the remaining systems so that they can operate appropriately, unlike other body functions, which concentrate on particular functions such as digestion. This is known as homeostasis, a balanced equilibrium within the body where, regardless of the external conditions, everything operates seamlessly.
The endocannabinoid system, for example, can maintain the pulse and temperature of the body within a defined range, irrespective of the temperature, or whether you’re performing some kind of activity.
Therefore, if the external environment changes, let’s assume the temperature increases, the endocannabinoid system will cause the body to exercise to help it cool down. This state of equilibrium adds substantially to a stable body, which is primarily accomplished by the cooperation between the endocannabinoid system and the body’s different systems.
What are the main components of the Endocannabinoid System?:
What are Endocannabinoids?:
Endocannabinoids or endogenous cannabinoids are compounds produced by your body. These elements are similar to cannabinoids found in hemp, but these ones come from the human body. Apart from this, scientists have discovered two major endocannabinoids up till now:
These molecules are responsible for running the internal function of the human body. Your body develops them according to its need. This is why experts are not able to estimate the right level of these compounds in your body.
The organic compounds present in cannabis, such as CBD and THC, known as phytocannabinoids, are identical to endocannabinoids-“phyto” in Greek means “plant” Instead of the prefix “endo” means “endogenous” given the fact that the body produces cannabinoids.
What are Cannabinoid receptors?:
Endocannabinoid receptors are present throughout your body. When your body wants to emphasize ECS to take any action, these receptors interact with endocannabinoids. Here are the primary endocannabinoid receptors.
· CB1 receptors – found in your central nervous system
· CB2 receptors – present in your peripheral nervous system, especially the immune cells
Moreover, endocannabinoids can bind to both types of receptors. This largely depends on the location of the receptor. For instance, endocannabinoid molecules can interact with CBD1 receptors in your spinal nerve to help eliminate or reduce pain. At the same time, others can target CB2 receptors in your immune cells to signal that your body is having inflammation, which is a common symbol of autoimmune disorders.
What are Enzymes?:
After the endocannabinoids have been bound to and have fulfilled the function of the cannabinoid receptors, the enzymes in the endocannabinoid system operate to split them down to stop unnecessary build-up.
Enzymes target the endocannabinoids’ system so that they can break them. This happens when endocannabinoids have performed their function. There are two enzymes that play this role:
• Fatty acid amide hydrolase – responsible for breaking down AEA· • Monoacylglycerol acid lipase – responsible for breaking down 2-AG
Do Animals Have an Endocannabinoid System?
The Endocannabinoid system is present in various animals and performs some important functions in their bodies, like human beings. Animals also have receptors throughout their body. They produce endocannabinoids that bind with cannabinoids receptors to perform a certain function.
The endocannabinoid system controls the immune, nervous, and other systems through a complex system of chemical signaling molecules and receptors. It helps to relieve inflammation and pain, support the digestive process, modulate metabolism, control neurological functions, and encourage the reproductive system, and support embryologic development. Research shows that animals, including invertebrates (leeches, mussels, urchins, nematodes, and others) and vertebrates (birds, fish, reptiles, and mammals) have endocannabinoids systems in their body. There is more to investigate to find out about the impact of ECS on animals.
Do Plants other than Hemp Produce Cannabinoids?
Yes, these are several plants that develop cannabinoids naturally. Not to mention, plants mostly produce phytocannabinoids. On the other hand, some plants also generate substances like cannabimimetic. These compounds mimic the properties of cannabinoids. Moreover, they also target the endocannabinoid system. Besides that, many plants contain cannabimimetic and phytocannabinoids, known as superfoods. Both of these compounds are similar but don’t have a similar effect on your body.
What Plants Contain cannabinoids?
The following are the few plants that naturally produce cannabinoids, which can help humans in thousands of ways.
· Helichrysum Umbraculigerum
· Black pepper
· Flax seeds
· Black truffles
· Hops and mangoes
What are the Health Benefits of CBD?
Cannabidiol is one of the 114 cannabinoids found in the plant Cannabis sativa, typically known as hemp or cannabis. Cannabidiol and other cannabinoids are natural chemical compounds developed by the herb. CBD helps regulate the function of the Endocannabinoid System in your body.
Researchers conclude that CBD does not bind itself directly to the receptor but in a certain way affects it. It is the activation of these receptors that enables many of the beneficial effects that people equate with the chemical.
CBD plays an important role in alleviating discomfort too. It effectively prevents electrical impulses from carrying the messages from accessing the rest of the body.