The EndoCannabinoid System

Meet your Endocannabinoid System

The Endogenous Cannabinoid System is the largest neurotransmitter system of the body whose primary purpose is to achieve and sustain homeostasis in the body by activating or inhibiting biological responses. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for regulating the following biological functions:

  • The immune system
  • The nervous system
  • Brain/neurological function
  • The reproductive system
  • Pain perception
  • The digestive system
  • Circulation
  • The cardiovascular system
  • And more

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in plants and vertebrate animals that interact with receptors throughout the brain and body. There are 3 types of cannabinoids:

  1. Endocannabinoids – produced by the body; anandamide (AEA) and arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)
  2. Phytocannabinoids – found in plants, such as cannabis and hemp; THC, CBD, THCV, CBG
  3. Synthetic cannabinoids – prescription cannabinoid-based medicine, usually isolated compounds; Marinol, Sativex

When these compounds bind to cannabinoid receptors they either activate or inhibit the receptors’ functions. The two best-known cannabinoid receptors are CB1, found abundantly in the nervous system, and CB2 receptors, primarily in the brain and immune system. Other classes of receptors known as novel and orphan cannabinoid receptors have functions that are not fully known but are shown to interact with cannabinoids and regulate bodily functions. They include:

  • TRPV1 (transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V) – may regulate body temperature, pain, inflammation
  • GRP18 (G-Protein Coupled Receptor 18) – found in the reproductive system in men and women
  • GRP35 – found in internal organs, brain, immune, cardiovascular system
  • GRP55 – found in the brain, bones, several organs; regulates cell growth

It’s widely misunderstood that CBD interacts with the CB2 receptors and that THC interacts with only the CB1 receptor—this is not accurate. THC activates both CB1 and CB2 receptors; CBD doesn’t bind to either. CBD does bind to and activate TRPV1, GRP18 and inhibit GRP55. The therapeutic value of CBD lies in its interaction with a number of physiological systems, and serotonin receptors, thereby reducing anxiety, nausea, and vomiting.

The science behind cannabinoids and the ECS is still very much in its infancy but shows promising growth with the continued cannabis legalization efforts happening globally. As cannabinoid medicine becomes more widely accepted, research institutes and the academic and medical communities will reveal more ways that the endocannabinoid system impacts overall health and chronic illness.


Learn more about the endocannabinoid system by checking out Project CBD or pick up a copy of Vitamin Weed.

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