Ever wonder how cannabinoids interact with your body? The answer is through the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system was discovered in the early 1990’s. Since then, scientists have worked to learn as much as the can about it, publishing thousands of peer-reviewed studies. These studies have shown that the endocannabinoid system helps to regulate everything from mood, to immune system function, to sleep and more.
The endocannabinoid system is made up of receptor sites on cells, enzymes, and endocannabinoids (cannabinoid-like compounds that are naturally produced by the human body). The receptor sites include the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which respond differently to different cannabinoids.
THC tends to favor CB1 receptors, which are most prevalent in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found mostly on cells in the immune system. When THC reacts with these receptors, this is what causes the well known “high” feeling from marijuana.
CBD, on the other hand, tends to have an affinity for CB2 receptors, as well as modulating the CB1 receptor. As of this writing, it is not fully clear exactly how CBD interacts with these receptors. This is a major area of focus in current cannabinoid research.
Research and Current Theories
Since discovering the endocannabinoid system and its parts, researchers have worked to further understand how the endocannabinoid system may be used therapeutically. Overall, research indicates that the endocannabinoid system helps regulate the body’s immune and central nervous systems are running correctly.
As we learn more about the endocannabinoid system, we will also learn about the potential for compounds from cannabis, like THC, CBD, and more, to be used therapeutically.
One theory about how the endocannabinoid system relates to our overall health is an “endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome,” which speculates that for some people, the body does not generate enough endocannabinoids. This concept further speculates that the deficiency could be the root cause of many autoimmune disorders, including migraines, fibromyalgia, IBS and more.
Overall, significant research must still be done to better understand the impact of the endocannabinoid system on our overall health, and how supplementing our natural endocannabinoid production with plant-based cannabinoids may play a significant therapeutic role in our health.