VI. Endocannabinoid system – what's that and why have you never heard of it
Many processes are happening in our body that help us feel healthy and lead a fulfilled life. They are regulated by different systems, most of whom are deeply researched and talked about. Although one of them, the one that keeps our organism in balance, was only begun to research in the last decade of the 20th century.
We are talking about the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which performs important functions in each one of us. Primary research of ECS showed its’ probable connection with various functions of immunity maintenance, appetite regulation and memory. However, the most researched area is the strong influence of endocannabinoid system on the nervous system.
How does the endocannabinoid system work?
Human endocannabinoid system is composed of receptors (CB1 and CB2) and neurotransmitters (e.g., anandamide). It is easier to imagine the receptor as a keyhole, which is opened by a transmitter allowing it to perform its’ function.
Anandamide is a natural cannabinoid of human body, which extracts when stimulated externally (working out) or internally (stress, pain). It has a regulative function, conducts organisms’ reaction to stimuli by reducing stress or pain and keeping balance in the body. Anandamide is released by little amounts and is quickly broken down in the organism, though.
Why have you never heard about endocannabinoid system and its’ interaction with THC/CBD
One of the reasons why endocannabinoid system is being left out of the popular science is a distorted view of the cannabis plant itself. It is mostly associated only with THC substance while the rest of cannabinoids in it are left behind and not talked about.
ECS was found while researching THC interaction with the human body. A conclusion was made that THC molecule can connect to CB1 and CB2 receptors, thus it is similar enough to natural anandamide. Although THC is similar to natural neurotransmitters, it is enough structurally different to cause an unpleasant intoxicating effect.
On the other hand, other cannabinoids (CBD, CBDA, CBC etc.) that are found in the cannabis plant affect us differently. Due to different chemical structure, it cannot fully connect to the receptor, but it still helps the body to absorb natural cannabinoids better and keeps it from breaking down so quickly.
In the process of keeping organisms’ balance CBD, alongside with other materials, works as the peacemaker, which lets the natural conductor to be heard and to keep the whole orchestra calm.