Our Endocannabinoid System (ECS) Explained
The endocannabinoid system wasn’t discovered until 1992. Founded by Raphael Mechoulam and NIMH researchers William Devane and Dr. Lumir Hanus.
Thanks to the discovery of THC fifty years ago, we’ve identified an entire molecular system within our bodies that we never knew about called the Endocannabinoid System….How far we’ve come.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that occur naturally in the human body (endocannabinoids) and cannabis plants (phytocannabinoids). Their interactions with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) trigger various physiological responsed. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the widely-known cannabinoid because of its psychoactive qualities and recreational popularity, while cannabidiol (CBD) unequivocally has the most relevance in the plant’s medicinal benefits. The ECS is responsible for physiological processes like appetite, pain sensation, mood and memory. cannabinoids communicate with our cells and nervous systems. Activated receptors engage various chemical, natural and pharmacological effects effecting how we feel mentally and physically…. Furthermore, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) owns patent No. 6630507 on the neuroprotectant properties of cannabinoids, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says whole-plant marijuana appears to slow cancer growth and potentially kill certain types of cancer cells. NIDA also acknowledged that THC reduces nausea and muscle control problems, while CBD has therapeutic potential for childhood epilepsy, seizures, mental health disorders, addiction and other serious conditions.
Ever wondered why cannabis affects us so profoundly. Why does THC and CBD offer so much relief to the ill? What makes this plant such a diverse medicine, treating a large number of widely different conditions? It’s due in large part to our endocannabinoid system (ECS), a system within our makeup that can be found in just about any living thing with a vertebrae. The ECS helps to regulate everything in our bodies and keeps our internal systems in balance. The endocannabinoid system is quite possibly the most important system in our bodies – responsible for maintaining homeostasis. If our endocannabinoid system is out-of-whack, we could be at risk as it regulates many of our normal day to day functions. This is the opinion of many scientists and backed up by data from countless studies, including Universities. Think about that, the ECS was discovered in 1992 and can very well be the most important system within us and we have kept cannabinoids illegal armed with this information!!!!
We’ve deprived our bodies of cannabinoids. It’s a scientific fact that cannabinoids and other components of cannabis & hemp can modulate many physiological systems in our brains and all internal systems. Cannabinoids trigger cannabinoid (and other) receptors such as CB1 and CB2. More than 100 cannabinoids have been identified in the cannabis plant, of these tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have been studied most extensively. In addition to cannabinoids produced by the plant, there are endogenous cannabinoids (such as anandamide and 2AG) that occur naturally in the mammalian brain and body, so in short we produce these without outside introduction. After all, why would we have cannabinoid receptors if cannabinoids could only be delivered from external sources???? We ‘ve evolved with this plant for thousands of years. Hemp and cannabis have been used for medicine, food, clothing, animal feed and religious purposes since humans have walked the earth.
The primary ECS receptors are type 1 (CB1) in the central and peripheral nervous system and type 2 (CB2) primarily in the immune system. While THC binds directly to cannabinoid receptors (accounting for such an intense reaction) and CBD affects them indirectly by stimulating endocannabinoid production in the body while suppressing the enzyme that metabolizes the natural chemicals. Making CBD effective with so many ailments. Furthermore, CBD and CBN are both examples of phytocannabinoids that bind to non-cannabinoid receptors, including 5-HT1A (serotonin), TRPV1 (pain, inflammation) and adenosine A2A (cardiovascular, respiratory). They are NEEDED. Think of it this way, THC can get you REALLY HIGH, I mean it can really knock you on your keister. The reactions people can have vary, as our ECS can vary. CBD won’t do that, but what does it do? If you smoke (or make an edible to ingest) a cannabis flower thats 20% THC you are feeling it, you are stoned. But if you do the same thing with a 20% CBD flower, you won’t get stoned. So what’s going on? It’s the same strength of a different cannabinoid, it’s got to be doing something. What it’s doing is traveling through your body’s regulating systems and triggering the production of more endocannabinoids, replenishing your ECS.
Anandamide was the first naturally occurring endogenous cannabinoid, or endocannabinoid discovered. It was found by Raphael Mechoulam as well as NIMH researchers William Devane and Dr. Lumir Hanus previous to understanding the entire ECS. Endocannabinoids attach to the CB1 and CB2 receptors (and others) in our brains and nervous systems. Cannabinoid receptors are embedded in the cellular membrane in the central nervous system, the immune system and in certain organs. Example: Cannabinoids bind to receptors as a key would fit into a lock, just as other receptors and compounds interact. This process allows the endocannabinoid system to maintain a stable internal environment. It’s wild to think we knew about the plant first – this cellular process has been happening within us for millions of years.
The benefits of better knowing the endocannabinoid system are endless as with any internal system tasked in regulating every aspect of our well being. Could the answers to curing and ending disease rely in learning how to manipulate this system and the receptors? Here is a quote from a well known Dr. here in Maine, Dustin Sulak: “I now believe the answer is yes. Research has shown that small doses of cannabinoids from cannabis can signal the body to make more endocannabinoids and build more cannabinoid receptors. This is why many first-time cannabis users don’t feel an effect, but by their second or third time using the herb they have built more cannabinoid receptors and are ready to respond. More receptors increase a person’s sensitivity to cannabinoids; smaller doses have larger effects, and the individual has an enhanced baseline of endocannabinoid activity. I believe that small, regular doses of cannabis might act as a tonic to our most central physiologic healing system.” – Dustin Sulak, DO