FAQ-Question: What exactly is the endocannabinoid system?
Answers: There are all kinds of myths and ideas supporting the vast medical benefit of this great plant. Some are substantiated, many are not yet. But one fact is irrefutable: cannabis has a profound influence on the human body. Its huge variety of compounds (over 400!) seem to affect nearly every aspect of the human body and mind. Which would rightly lead the thinking person to ask: “How is that possible?” This question is what lead researchers to the discovery of a physiological system we now call the “endocannabinoid system” or ECS.
Originally named “endogenous cannabinoids” – the discovery of the ESC laid waste to the long held, conventional belief that cannabinoids had little or no therapeutic relevance to the human body. We now understand that the endocannabinoid system is an integral part of human physiology intrinsic to all humans and many animals, responsible for a sweeping range of physiological function.
The ECS is a group of cannabinoid receptors located in the brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. A cannabinoid is a compound that acts on two receptors. Receptors are essentially the body’s pathways. There are many known receptors in the body, but to date, researchers have proven that cannabinoids interact specifically with two types of receptors called CB1 and CB2. Both are found throughout the body, but are most common in the brain and periphery. When cannabinoids activate CB1 or CB2 receptors, they change the way the body functions.
CB1 receptors are primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis. They are present in many areas of the brain and play a role in memory, mood, sleep, appetite and pain sensation.
CB2 receptors are responsible for the vast anti-inflammatory effects we see in cannabis treatment. They are found in immune cells and work to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response and is believed to be a factor in many diseases and conditions. At the site of an injury, head trauma and osteoporosis for example, cannabinoids can be found decreasing the release of activators and sensitizers from the injured tissue, stabilizing the nerve cell to prevent and protect the body from excessive firing, and calm nearby immune cells to prevent release of pro-inflammatory substances.
Much more study is needed to further develop our understanding and practical application of cannabinoids and the ECS. We are strong believers in the idea that we will see an influx in scientific study and discovery about the practical, therapeutic value of cannabinoid treatment.
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