A Straightforward Guide to the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system identified in the early 1990s by researchers researching THC, a renowned cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are chemicals found in cannabis.

Experts are still trying to completely understand the ECS. But so far, we know it plays with a role in controlling an Assortment of functions and processes, including:

  • Sleeping
  • Mood
  • Desire
  • Memory
  • Reproduction and fertility

The ECS is present and is active on your body even if you don’t use cannabis.

Read on to learn more about the ECS including how it functions and interacts using cannabis.

CBD, Omega-3s, and the Endocannabinoid System

How does it function?

The ECS includes three core elements: endocannabinoids receptors, and enzymes.


Endocannabinoids, also called endogenous cannabinoids, are molecules created by your body. They are much like cannabinoids, but they’re produced by your body.

Experts have identified two Important endocannabinoids so far:

  • Anandamide (AEA)
  • 2-Arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG)

These help keep internal functions running smoothly. Your body produces them as needed, making it difficult to know what average amounts are for each.

Endocannabinoid Receptors

These receptors are found throughout your body. Endocannabinoids bind to them in order to signal the ECS should take action.

There are two primary endocannabinoid receptors:

  • CB1 receptors, that are mostly found in the central nervous system
  • CB2 receptors, that are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells

Endocannabinoids can bind to receptors. The consequences which result depend on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid it binds to.

By way of example, endocannabinoids might target CB1 receptors in a spinal nerve to relieve pain. Others might bind into a CB2 receptor in your cells to signal that your body experiencing inflammation, a frequent sign of autoimmune disorders.


Enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids once they’ve completed their function.

There are two main enzymes responsible for this:

  • Fatty acid amide hydrolase, which breaks AEA
  • Monoacylglycerol acid lipase, which generally breaks down 2-AG

What are its functions?

The ECS is complex, and experts haven’t yet determined exactly how it works or all its possible functions.

Research has linked the ECS to the following processes:

  • Appetite and digestion
  • Metabolism
  • Chronic pain
  • Inflammation and other immune system answers
  • Disposition
  • Learning and memory
  • Motor controller
  • Sleep
  • Cardiovascular system function
  • Muscle formation
  • Bone remodeling and growth
  • Liver function
  • Reproductive system operate
  • Stress
  • Skin and nerve function

These functions all bring about homeostasis, which describes the stability of your internal environment. As an example, if an external force, like pain from an injury or a fever, throws off your own body’s homeostasis, your ECS kicks in to help your body reach its perfect operation.

Today, experts feel that maintaining homeostasis is the principal job of this ECS.

How does THC interact with the ECS?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the chief cannabinoids found in cannabis. It’s the compound which gets you “high”

Once inside your body, THC interacts with your ECS by binding to receptors, just like endocannabinoids. It’s powerful, partially because it can bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors.

This enables it to have a range of impacts on your body and mind, more desirable than others. For example, THC might help to reduce pain and stimulate your appetite. But it can also result in paranoia and anxiety sometimes.

Pros are now looking into methods to create synthetic THC cannabinoids that interact with the ECS in just beneficial ways.

How can CBD interact with the ECS?

Another significant cannabinoid found in cannabis is cannabidiol (CBD). Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t make you “high” and generally doesn’t cause any negative outcomes.

Pros are not completely sure how CBD interacts with the ECS. But they do understand that it does not bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors the way THC does.

Rather, many believe it works by preventing endocannabinoids from being broken down. This permits them to get more of an impact on your physique. Other people believe that CBD binds to a receptor that has not been found yet.

While the specifics of how its functions are still under debate, the study suggests that CBD can assist with nausea, nausea, and other ailments related to a number of ailments.

What about endocannabinoid deficiency?

Some specialists consider a theory known as clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD). This theory suggests that low endocannabinoid levels in your body or ECS dysfunction can contribute to the development of particular ailments.

A 2016 article reviewing over ten decades of research on the topic suggests the concept might explain why some people develop migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome.

None of those conditions have a definite underlying cause. They’re also often resistant to therapy and at times happen along with each other.

If CECD does play any sort of role in these types of conditions, targeting the ECS or endocannabinoid generation might be the missing key to therapy, but more research is needed.

The Most Important Thing

The ECS plays a big role in keeping your internal procedures stable. But there is still a lot we do not understand about it. As experts create a better understanding of the ECS, it could eventually hold the key to treating many problems.