The endocannabinoid system is a biological system related to appetite, metabolism, memory and more. Scientists are still working to understand the complexities of the endocannabinoid system, but one major function of the system is to maintain homeostasis. Maintaining homeostasis means returning the body to a ‘normal’ state in response to internal & external changes. In order to define the endocannabinoid system in greater detail, we need to zoom into its many functions (in both humans and animals).
What Does The Endocannabinoid System Do?
The endocannabinoid system has many functions, all of which relate to three components: receptors, enzymes and endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are molecules that bind to receptors in our brain and are synthesized (and degraded) by enzymes. While many endocannabinoids and receptors remain undiscovered, science has begun to uncover many functions of the system as a whole.
The processes of the endocannabinoid system maintain homeostasis and promote various functions of the body, including:
As you can see, the endocannabinoid system supports a variety of functions and plays an important role in the body. The ECS may even impact formative functions such as muscle formation and bone growth. While scientists are still learning about the endocannabinoid system, there are few key parts that are well-documented.
Parts Of The Endocannabinoid System Explained
As mentioned, the endocannabinoid system has three main parts: endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes. Each of these parts has its own key function in the endocannabinoid system and plays a role in helping the body maintain homeostasis.
Key function: Maintaining homeostasis by binding to receptors.
A multitude of endocannabinoids may exist, but only two have been identified by scientists: anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These molecules are produced by your body and are similar to cannabinoids, the type of molecule that THC and CBD are both classified as.
Key function: Synthesizing and breaking down endocannabinoids.
There are two main enzymes involved in the endocannabinoid system: fatty acid amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol lipase. Both of these enzymes are key in breaking down endocannabinoids and are still being thoroughly studied by scientists.
Key function: Bind with cannabinoids to alert the endocannabinoid system to target different parts of the body and help regulate those areas.
The main endocannabinoid receptors are CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors. These receptors are functionally similar, but CB1 receptors are found in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are usually in the peripheral nervous system.
How does CBD affect the endocannabinoid system?
While CBD itself is not an endocannabinoid, it actually stimulates the endocannabinoid system, which produces effects such as pain relief, stress relief and more. It’s believed that CBD directly interacts with endocannabinoid receptors, but this relationship is still being explored. While there is still an on-going journey to define the endocannabinoid system in full detail, its importance is crystal clear.
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