Wait, we have an endo-what? And we produce cannabinoids? Where have I been?! These were some of my questions when I first heard tell of the remarkable endocannabinoid system or ECS. I felt so ignorant and like I had been living under a rock, but I was also excited and intrigued! I wanted to know more so I read what I could and talked with those more familiar with the subject, as I was utilizing and selling CBD oil and wanted to be informed. Who knows about this and how long have they known? What IS IT?! What role does it play and how can it affect our health?

Well, I discovered I was not alone – many people, all over the States were being introduced not only to CBD but to the ECS as well, including medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc. So, that brought up another question. Why don’t those in the medical field know about this system?! As it turns out the ECS is rarely taught in current programs at U.S. med schools. A mere 13.3% of medical schools surveyed by David B. Allen, M.D., teach this science to future doctors and medical professionals. This is silly and breeds ignorance. But all along, government-funded studies (in Universities!) were/are being conducted on uses for medical marijuana and the results and findings had/have been vastly underreported in the mainstream media. Until now. The advent and press coverage of CBD has provided a much-needed platform for the ECS to be discussed. We believe it’s extremely important for the public to be aware of this (not-so) new science and we’ll start with a quick overview.

The endocannabinoid system is multi-functioning, multi-layered and impressive to say the least. Currently, it is best recognized for providing homeostasis. Homeostasis is another term for harmony or balance, a feeling of being “just right”. Our bodies do not favor extremes, like high (or low) blood pressure, or being too hot or cold; the ECS regulates these conditions at the cellular level to keep us comfortable and healthy.

Discovered by Miles Herkenham in 1990, the ECS consists of three components:

  • Cannabinoid Receptors
    • CB1 receptors are found in high levels in many regions of the brain and in lower amounts throughout the rest of the body. These moderate the psychoactive effects of cannabinoids and terpenes. Interaction with THC demonstrates the ability of the CB1 receptors.
    • CB2 receptors are fewer and found mainly in immune cells and densely throughout the gut. These play a very large role in maintaining homeostasis.
  • Endocannabinoids
    • Endogenous cannabinoids, meaning those produced in the body; found in breast milk
      • Anandamide – the most-helpful “Bliss Molecule” interacts with CB1 receptors; CBD slows the breakdown of anandamide. Increased levels equal less anxiety in most cases, as well as appetite regulation, sleep pattern regulation, mood regulation, and decreased sensitivity to pain.
      • 2-AG – is present in both the immune and central nervous system where it regulates immune and nerve function, signaling for and sending immune cells to promote healing and reduce inflammation.
  • Metabolic Enzymes
    • These enzymes work to break down structures that are no longer needed, produce new cells and maintain existing ones until they are ready to make their exit. Enzymes also aid in nutrient absorption and distribution and are also in charge of detoxing. We would be hurting without these!

With only a small amount of information, I hope you can see why it is imperative that we become familiar with this system and the latest findings. Public access and education are needed, and it can start with us! Just think of how far we’ve come without knowing, and how far we may go now that the word is out. I look forward to writing more on this subject and I hope you’ll read along as we explore the ECS. Comment below and please share this article!

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