A Scientific Snapshot of the Endocannabinoid System

Posted on August 27 2018

A Scientific Snapshot of the Endocannabinoid System


Post Purpose: Basic explanation of the endocannabinoid system to demonstrate how cannabinoids work within the body


By now, you likely know what cannabinoids are and the benefits they can have within the body. But how exactly does it work? Let’s explore the basic science of cannabinoids.

Remind me about cannabinoids...

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds most commonly known for their presence in cannabis. There are three key types of cannabinoids--endocannabinoids, which are those naturally produced within the human body; phytocannabinoids, found in plants including the cannabis plant; and synthetic cannabinoids, which are artificially manufactured. 

Okay, got it. So how does that work?

The human body is made up of multiple body systems that work together--the digestive system, the immune system, the cardiovascular system, and so on. One of these systems, known as the endocannabinoid system, is comprised of a network of neurons that run throughout the body. This system interacts with our other body systems and can help to regulate multiple bodily functions, including appetite, sleep, cognitive function and more.

The endocannabinoid system produces its own cannabinoids, which are aptly referred to as endocannabinoids. In 1992, an endocannabinoid within the brain called anandamide was discovered. Anandamide works within the endocannabinoid system to provide many benefits but also interacts with phytocannabinoids such as THC or CBD, the most prominent phytocannabinoids found in cannabis. These external cannabinoids bind with endocannabinoids through receptors that run all throughout the body.

There are two known receptor types, referred to as CB1 and CB2 receptors. While both receptor types can be found throughout the body, CB1 receptors are located primarily in the brain and central nervous system while CB2 receptors can be found primarily in the remainder of the body.

Give me an example.

A good example of the endocannabinoid system at work is a “runner’s high.” You may have had this experience--after running for a long time, you start to feel slightly euphoric and your body suddenly feels rejuvenated. This is the result of your body producing anandamide and activating your CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Cool! What can I do to support my endocannabinoid system?

The endocannabinoid system is activated by introducing cannabinoids to the bloodstream. The safest and most universally-legal way to experience endocannabinoid system support is to try a CBD oil. Because it doesn’t require you to inhale anything, oil is an extremely safe way to consume cannabinoids. The cannabinoid Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a legal, non-psychoactive cannabinoid. 

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