·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Health & Medicine

What You Never Knew About Your Endocannabinoid System

— January 3, 2020

The ECS has been linked to most processes in the human body, such as chronic pain, inflammation, motor control, appetite, digestion, sleep, mood, liver, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, bone growth, muscle formation, etc. 

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is found only in mammals and reptiles. Located in the nervous system, brain, and organs of humans, birds, fishes, and reptiles, it is the largest system of receptors in our human body. 

Extensive research has been done to explore the various dimensions of this system. It was found that this system is involved in maintaining human health. The ultimate objective of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain the level of homeostasis and keep our immune system healthy. 

How was the Endocannabinoid System Discovered? 

Talking about the ECS leads to the discussion of cannabinoids, which were discovered in 1960. The discovery of cannabinoids lead to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system. 

Later on, scientists made a great contribution by studying why and how compounds in the hemp plant affected the human body, which led to the discovery of large cannabinoid receptors within humans. 

Further reading: Those curious to know how the actual discovery was made can read this article.

The ECS includes three major components: Endocannabinoids, Receptors, and Enzymes.

  • Endocannabinoids– Endocannabinoids are naturally produced in our body by cells. Our body constantly produces endocannabinoids to handle imbalances. The ECS receptors exist throughout our body in the immune system, nervous system, brain, glands, connective tissues, etc. 
  • Enzymes– Once the endocannabinoids have performed their function, enzymes play an important role in breaking down the endocannabinoids.
  • Receptors– These are found throughout the body. There are two types of receptors – CB1 and CB2. The ECS signals the receptors to perform an action that maintains our body’s overall health.

The functions of the two major receptors in our body are – 

  1. CB1 – is found in the brain and spinal cord, regulating appetite and memory.
  2. CB2 – exists throughout the immune system and other parts of the body to ensure its proper functioning.

Types of Endocannabinoids in our body

  1. 2-AG – It is one of the most important endocannabinoids existing throughout our body that is responsible for maintaining our immune system and appetite 
  2. Anandamide – It is named after the Sanskrit word “Ananda,” meaning happiness. It is responsible for inducing a bliss state in the body. 

Apart from the two significant endocannabinoids mentioned above, there are also others such as 2-Arachidonyl glyceryl ether, N-Arachidonoyl dopamine (NADA), and Virodhamine (OAE).

Unknown Facts of the ECS system 

Research indicates that a deficiency of endocannabinoids in our body can lead to health problems. It is the ECS which protects us from the changes in the external environment such as inflammation, weather, temperature, harmful chemicals in the air, etc. 

The ultimate goal of the ECS is to achieve adequate levels of homeostasis in our body that regulates the functioning of several organs for survival. 

CBD and THC are two different types of cannabinoids produced in plants. The human body also produces a form of cannabinoids known as endocannabinoids. These compounds react to the receptors in the same way as CBD and THC react to receptors coming from the plants. Anandamide is a type of endocannabinoid that reacts in a similar way in our body as THC does in plants. A study of 2016 indicates that high levels of anandamide uplifts the mood and mitigates fear among humans and mice. 

Research also indicates that the endocannabinoid system in our body can sometimes fail to function to its maximum capacity. The term given to its deficiency is known as “Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency.” 

When individuals do not have adequate levels of endocannabinoids in the body, it gives rise to several ailments. The key to gaining back adequate levels is to have a good diet and lifestyle. If your body is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids, you will remain healthy with a properly functioning endocannabinoid system. 

The ECS has been linked to most processes in the human body, such as chronic pain, inflammation, motor control, appetite, digestion, sleep, mood, liver, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, bone growth, muscle formation, etc.

Small pile of multi-colored candy; image by Hello I’m Nik, via
Small pile of multi-colored candy; image by Hello I’m Nik, via

How Does the ECS Get Imbalanced? 

  • Emotional Stress– Stress in life today is the most common problem. Experiencing stress reduces the levels of anandamide and induces feelings of frustration, anxiety, and agitation in the body. 
  • Drugs– Medicines, alcohol, and weed enhance the production of endocannabinoids in our body. Due to the high use of drugs, the production of endocannabinoids increases, which again creates imbalances in the body. When people withdraw from their addicted drugs, the CB1 receptor becomes harsher. 
  • Unhealthy diet – An unhealthy diet increases the production of endocannabinoids in the circulatory system, which makes people feel hungrier. This makes make it tougher to lose weight. 
  • Genetics – Even genetics can have a negative effect on the ECS. People having high levels of anandamide have a higher risk of obesity. 
  • Chronic disease – Researchers have found an association of ECS with various diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, depression, PTSD, etc. 

How to Reduce the Imbalances of the Endocannabinoid System 

  1. To maintain a proper balance of endocannabinoids in the body, there are varieties of CBD supplements available on the market. 
  2. Apart from the supplements, it is important to repair your body with a healthy diet and adequate exercise. As per this 2014 research paper, exercise and intense physical activity boost the production of 2-AG and anandamide that help you maintain a good mood. Good exercise manages your stress levels in the body and keeps you healthy. 
  3. Fish oil contains a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids that help you to maintain a balance of the internal body. The fatty acids get converted into endocannabinoids helping your immune system going. 
  4. If not fish oil, you can also consume flaxseeds, hemp milk, or chia seeds. 
  5. Sunlight is also a great remedy to maintain a good balance in your body. The ECS functions well when you get enough sunlight to maintain the vitamin levels in your body. 
  6. The research says that 15 minutes of ultraviolet rays increases the 2AG in the body. 
  7. Apart from these tips, meditation and orgasm also increase the production of endocannabinoids in the body. 

Join the conversation!