Understanding the endocannabinoid system
Discovered by scientists in the early 1990s, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a system biochemical signaling. It actually exists in the brain and body of every mammal. It consists of two essential elements:
- Cannabinoid receptors, located in abundance in the brain and the body;
- Endocannabinoids, neurotransmitters responsible for signaling between receptors.
Every function of the human body requires homeostasis, or balance, to function optimally. The endocannabinoid system is essential for regulating all major physiological processes that help us achieve this homeostasis.
We currently know two types of endocannabinoid receptors:
Cannabinoid-1 (CB1) receptors are primarily concentrated in abundance in the central nervous system, in our brain, but they are also found in our skin, intestines, lungs, liver and kidneys. Communication between CB1 receptors is essential for the regulation of many physiological and cognitive processes. For example pain sensation, appetite, mood and stress response. Also memory, glucose metabolism, fertility and sleep.
Cannabinoid-2 (CB2) receptors are found throughout our body, in the peripheral nervous system, immune system and metabolic tissues, as well as in many internal organs. CB2 receptors are believed to help regulate immune function and the inflammatory response in particular.
Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin, that carry messages throughout the body. The first endogenous cannabinoid to be discovered was anandamide, followed shortly after by arachidonoylglycerol , but we now know that there are many others. It is still difficult for scientists to assess the exact quantities we produce. This is because the body only synthesizes them when it needs them.
They bind to and activate our CB1 or CB2 receptors (or both), which sets off a chain reaction of events, directly and indirectly influencing a plethora of physiological processes that control pain, inflammation, mood a> and muscular control.
It is believed that many, if not all, conditions may be the result of a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system. We see this situation when our body does not produce enough endocannabinoids to ensure its functioning. The endocannabinoid system seems to be at the heart of our functioning; it could even hold the key to treatment previously incurable diseases such as fibromyalgia, migraine and irritable bowel syndrome.
The interest of CBD lies in its ability to activate these receptors. We now know that its consumption helps in particular to act on pain regulators. It also acts on those of sleep, anxiety, appetite, nausea, inflammation and many others. Research is still in its early stages, and it is likely that the therapeutic potential of CBD is much broader than it seems.
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