Every mammal on the plant has an Endocannabinoid System, but this incredible network is only just coming into focus thanks to its relationship with cannabis.
The Endocannabinoid System
The Endocannabinoid System is comprised of multiple cannabinoid receptors in various sites. However, the first receptor was not discovered until 48 years after CBD was identified! As the CB1 receptor was first identified in 1988 with further discoveries occurring years later, it is still a fairly new discovery.
What scientists know for sure now is that there are two main cannabinoid receptors that have been identified throughout the human body. These two receptors are known as CB1 and CB2.
Cannabinoid Receptor Type 1
Also known as the CB1 receptor, these are primarily located in the brain. These receptors are found in large quantities within the basal ganglia and the limbic system, specifically the hippocampus and amygdala. These two areas of the brain are primarily responsible for managing memory and emotional regulation (mood).
Cannabinoid Receptor Type 2
Also known as the CB2 receptor, these are primarily located in the immune and digestive systems. These receptors are found in large quantities in within the gastrointestinal tract.
These receptors are where the cannabinoids THC and CBD, found in the cannabis flower, communicate through the body to produce the common effects such as the psychoactive high, as well as the boost in mood. These cannabinoids can control or mimic the regulation of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, in order to produce the resulting effects caused by consuming cannabis.
The communication between cannabis and the CB1 and CB2 receptors are responsible for not only mood, but also for the anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties coveted by cannabis users. In addition, the CB2 receptors are responsible for cannabis’ ability to relieve nausea and even influence appetite.
The clear connection between cannabinoids in cannabis and the endocannabinoid system has caused this system to be brought to light. Here are some more must-know facts about the endocannabinoid system and how important it is to the human body – and the connection to cannabis consumption:
All Creatures Have an Endocannabinoid System
Interestingly enough, humans are not the only species to exhibit an endocannabinoid system. In fact, this system is present in all vertebrates and invertebrates. In fact, cannabinoid receptors can be found in sea-squirts – a creature that evolved over 600 million years ago!
The Human Body Has Natural Cannabinoids
Did you know that the human body actually has two naturally occurring cannabinoids? One of these is anandamide, which has been found to have the number one amount of receptors in the brain. This cannabinoid binds to the CB1 receptors and has proven to be critical for maintaining a healthy central nervous system. The second naturally occuring cannabinoid is Arachidonoylglycerol or 2-AG. This binds to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but researchers are still unclear regarding its effect on cannabinoid function.
Endocannabinoid Receptors Have the Highest Abundance
Neurotransmitters are responsible for many functions in the human body including: emotional regulation, appetite, sleep and memory. The human body has thousands of receptors for these neurotransmitters, but did you know that the endocannabinoid receptors are actually the most abundant? There are more endocannabinoid receptors than there are neuromodulatory receptors (including those for serotonin and dopamine!), which is very surprising!
The Endocannabinoid System Prevents Disease
Given the wide-ranging function of the endocannabinoid system in regulating both our mental health as well as immune system and stability, it is easy to see how this system may regulate and even prevent disease. If an individual has a damaged or poorly functioning system, the result can be anything from neurodegenerative disorders to arthritis or even cancer! This also lends data to studies that promote cannabis as an anti-cancer agent – cannabis helps to fill in the gaps in a damaged Endocannabinoid System, as well as to regulate that system.
The Endocannabinoid System Explains Marijuana’s Therapeutic Effects
Another fact you may not know about the endocannabinoid system is that it is the cause and explanation for marijuana’s effects. While healers have been using cannabis and hemp as a healing tool for centuries, it is only recently that scientists understand why the cannabis plant resulted in these effects. It has been proven that small doses of cannabinoids from hemp or cannabis actually help to support the Endocannabinoid System and improve its ability to emit signals to other areas of the body.
Keeping Your Endocannabinoid System Healthy
Cannabis is one of the main ways that individuals can improve a damage endocannabinoid system, or keep theirs running smoothly due to its ability to improve the function within this system. However, there are other ways to ensure that your body is running optimally including diet and exercise.
Prolonged aerobic exercise produces endorphins, which result in an increase of anandamide. This naturally occurring cannabinoid is considered a “feel good” compound and can be linked to the “runner’s high” experienced by athletes. Exercise is also beneficial to an optimal cannabis experience as THC is stored in fat cells, and exercise causes the movement of fat cells thereby releasing THC into the bloodstream. This can also be helpful to slow the build of cannabis tolerance for more effective consumption.
In addition to exercise, diet is also important for not only maintaining the endocannabinoid system, but all systems including digestive, reproductive, respiratory and nervous systems!
Some tips for diet include ensuring that you get enough Omega 3, which is an essential fatty acid and can be found in oily fish or flax or hemp seeds. This fatty acid is important for brain health and can also help support endocannabinoid brain signals.