The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a system of neurotransmitters in the central and peripheral nervous systems. It is present in all vertebrates. It is comprised of endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes.
There are two types of cannabinoid receptors. CB1 receptors are abundant in the brain, and CB2 receptors are abundant in the immune system.
Discovered in the 1980s, studies have found the ECS plays a part in regulating a wide variety of physiological processes, including:
These biological systems are critical to homeostasis, which is the concept our bodies regulate themselves to maintain conditions within the range of optimal function. The ECS is essential for regulation of these biological functions, and therefore critical to helping maintain homeostasis.
The two major cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp are THC and CBD. We could not experience their benefits if our bodies didn’t already have an internal cannabinoid system capable of interacting with external cannabinoids.
THC binds to endocannabinoid receptors, but CBD does not. Research into the mechanism of how CBD interacts with the ECS is ongoing. Scientists are investigating multiple theories. Regardless of the variable hypotheses behind the mechanism, the data suggests CBD has positive effects on multiple conditions related to systems regulated by the ECS.
These resources provide in depth physiological information on the endocannabinoid system,
its structure and its functions.