The endocannabinoid system is a network of receptors throughout the human body responsible for maintaining homeostasis. There are two major receptors. CB1 receptors are found in the brain and nervous system. CB2 receptors are primarily found in the periphery and immune system. The function of these receptors is to “listen” to the conditions outside of the cell membrane and respond if conditions warrant a cellular response. The molecules that activate these receptors are known as endocannabinoids. The most well studied endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2_AG. Endocannabinoid’s are eventually broken down by metabolic enzymes.
According to the Institute of Bimolecular Chemistry, “With the ‘pro-homeostatic action of the ECS’, this system of chemical signals gets temporarily activated following deviations from cellular homeostasis. When such deviations are non-physiological, the temporarily activated ECS attempts, in a space and time selective manner, to restore previous physiological homeostasis.”
Your body’s endocannabinoid system also interacts with external molecules known as cannabinoids. There are over 100 cannabinoids, but the two most studied are CBD and THC. In general, THC interacts with your CB1 receptors and is what causes one to feel “high”. CBD is non psycho-active and interacts with your CB2 receptors. CB2 receptors play a major role in the inflammatory and immune response of the human body. Essentially, your endocannabinoid system helps to bring all your systems back to normal. Inappropriate activation of the ECS is correlated to how autoimmune disorders and chronic inflammation manifests in the body.
Professor Prakash Nagarkatti, Vice President for Research at the University of South Carolina, and has studied the ECS in great depth explains that, “Most of our research demonstrates that endocannabinoids are produced upon activation of immune cells and may help regulate the immune response by acting as anti-inflammatory agents. Thus, interventions that manipulate the metabolism or production of endocannabinoids may serve as a novel treatment modality against a wide range of inflammatory disease.”
The ECS is a very complex and crucial molecular system in the human body. External factors and chronic pathological conditions can deviate the ECS from normal homeostasis. It’s important to remember that supplementation with cannabidiol is not a cure-all. Healthy lifestyle choices such as exercise, meditation and nutrition can boost the overall function of the ECS. Cheers to wellness!
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