Getting to Know Our Endocannabinoid System
The human body is a walking miracle! Walking, eating, breathing, sleeping, learning, feeling, and so much more. Of all these day-to-day responsibilities, there is one particular system that plays a huge role in maintaining the balance of it all. And it just so happens to be the same system where cannabis is processed, the Endocannabinoid system.
So, what does our Endocannabinoid System do?
Our Endocannabinoid System (ECS) regulates homeostasis, which in so many words means maintenance of the stability and constancy needed to make a body function properly. This network of cellular receptors helps keep our internal processes stable, allowing us to maintain the balance necessary for daily living.
The ECS is largely comprised of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes that are believed to help regulate a variety of functions in humans including sleep, mood, memory, appetite, reproduction, and pain sensation.
The human body produces chemical compounds similar to the active ingredients in marijuana, and these compounds, called endocannabinoids.
Yes, you heard right, your own body makes a compounds similar to THC and CBD.
Another of the key components of the ECS is our CB1 receptors. These are located mainly in the brain and nervous system and directly interact with cannabinoids like THC to produce the intoxicating effects associated with cannabis.
It’s sister elements, known as CB2 receptors, are found in the gastrointestinal system and immune system. But both receptors can be found throughout the body.
How exactly does cannabis come into play?
The reason cannabis helps pave the way for its variety of medicinal benefits because of the plant’s cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Just like our body’s own endocannabinoids, these elements naturally interact with our ECS to bring about a range of effects on our body, mind, and overall wellness.
Whether through inhalation methods like smoking or vaping, sublingually with a tincture, or digested in edible form, THC enters the body where it binds to the ECS receptors. While THC can bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD doesn’t “fit” into the receptors the same way. This is what gives CBD its non-intoxicating effects. It also prevents THC from activating CB1 receptors which can help to balance out some of THC’s less desirable side effects.
All in all, the fact that cannabis mirrors our body’s own naturally-occurring and life-dependent elements is yet another nod to the miracle that is this medicinal plant, as well as a nod to biology as a whole. And to think it’s only the beginning. The Endocannabinoid System was discovered around the early 90s and with what’s already been explored so far about its relationship with medical marijuana, one thing is clear: there’s still so much more to learn!
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