Human Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a very important role in maintaining homeostasis in the human body. It is ubiquitous throughout our bodies. To begin with, it is a retrograde system functioning post- to pre-synapse, allowing it to be a “master regulator” in the body. Secondly, it has a very wide scope of influence due to an abundance of cannabinoid receptors located anywhere from immune cells to neurons. Finally, cannabinoids are rapidly synthesized and degraded, so they do not stay in the body for very long in high amounts, possibly enabling cannabinoid therapy to be a safer alternative to opioids or benzodiazepines.
We have (at least) two types of cannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 which is in the central nervous system (brain and nerves of the spinal cord)
- CB2 which is in the peripheral nervous system (nerves in your extremities), the digestive system, and specialized cells in the immune system.
Through these receptors, the ECS helps to regulate functions like appetite, inflammation, and pain!1
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that trigger cannabinoid (and other) receptors found in the endocannabinoid system. The cannabis plant produces over 100 different cannabinoids. The two main cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).2