What is the endocannabinoid system?
Updated: Feb 19
Just like your nervous system, your body has another system woven throughout it: The endocannabinoid (en-do-cannabi-noid) system.
Many people wonder how CBD can be effective for all the many things that early research is coming out with. The answer is that CBD does not treat these disorders directly. Instead, CBD soothes the endocannabinoid system that maintains homeostasis, or balance, for your body. Creating this balance in the endocannabinoid system, which creates balance for the rest of the body, is the secret behind CBD's effectiveness.
The endocannabinoid system maintains balance for things like sleep, mood, appetite, and reproduction. However, it does not affect critical systems like the heart and lungs, which is why it's virtually impossible to fatally overdose on cannabis. THC, which is also a cannabinoid, may overwhelm the endocannabinoid system which produces the effect of being "high" and may even cause paranoia and anxiety. CBD counteracts the high of THC, bringing the endocannabinoid system back to balance.
To maintain balance in the body, the endocannabinoid system requires cannabinoids. Cannabindoil (CBD) is a cannabinoid and so is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These cannabinoids, as well as hundreds of others, are found in cannabis and hemp plants. Your body also naturally produces cannabinoids like Anandamide (AEA). Your cells have cannabinoid receptors on them, waiting for cannabinoids to attach.
There are two types of cannabinoid receptors on cells, CB1 and CB2 receptors. Cannabinoids can bind to either receptor. CB1 receptors are found more often on cells in the central nervous system, which are more focused on symptoms like pain whereas CB2 receptors are more often found in the peripheral nervous system, which more focused on symptoms like inflammation.
There's still much research that needs to be done on the endocannabinoid system. It's an exciting time in history to see so much progress being made in understanding a newly discovered system in the body! Ending prohibition on the hemp and cannabis plants are big steps to allowing more people access to the beneficial cannabiniods these plants contain.