It’s no secret that most of us have heard about the various transmitter systems in our bodies, such as the central nervous system (CNS) or the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for our flight-or-fight response whenever we panic.
That said, the recently discovered endocannabinoid system (ECS) seems to be quite a mystery to most of us. The endocannabinoid system is a highly essential system that controls vital body functions such as sleep, pain control, and emotional processing.
The endocannabinoid system is currently the subject of international research, and thereby it is fundamental for you to understand what it entails. Below is a brief elucidation of everything you need to know about the endocannabinoid system.
What is the endocannabinoid system?
The endocannabinoid system, often referred to as the ECS, is a complex cell signaling system that was discovered in the 1990s. It regulates the central nervous system’s functions and generally maintains homeostasis in the body- the state of equilibrium in the body where all organs function optimally.
Although research is still ongoing, experts opine that some of the possible functions of the endocannabinoid system include regulating the following body functions:
- Learning and memory.
- Appetite and digestion.
- The reproductive system functions.
- Motor control.
- Muscle formation.
- Liver function.
- Cardiovascular function.
- Bone remodeling and growth.
- Inflammation and other immune responses.
How does the endocannabinoid system work?
The ECS consists of three major components: endocannabinoids, enzymes, and receptors.
Also known as endogenous cannabinoids, endocannabinoids are naturally occurring molecules that are produced in your body. They work as neurotransmitters- chemical messengers in the body that transmit signals between nerve cells.
The two core endocannabinoids produced in the body are:
- 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG)
- Anandamide (AEA)
Endocannabinoids are incredibly crucial for the body since they help numerous internal systems run smoothly.
Endocannabinoid receptors are usually located on the surface of cells throughout your body. Endocannabinoids usually bind to these receptors to transmit a message to the ECS in order to jump-start a response.
The two primary endocannabinoid receptors are:
- CB1 receptors: These receptors are primarily present in the central nervous system, which comprises the brain and spinal cord.
- CB2 receptors: Usually present in immune cells as well as the peripheral nervous system (PNS).
Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor. That said, the result usually depends on where the receptor is located in the body. For instance, endocannabinoids may bind with CB1 receptors in your spinal cord to help relieve pain.
Simply put, enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids once they’ve carried out the desired response. The two main enzymes that usually breakdown endocannabinoids are:
- Fatty acid amylase– Usually breaks down the anandamide (AEA) endocannabinoid.
- Monoacylglycerol acid lipase– This enzyme breaks down the 2-AG endocannabinoid.
How are endocannabinoids produced in the body
Firstly, it is fundamental to note that endocannabinoids are usually produced naturally in the body. They tend to be present in various body organs such as the muscles, brain, and circulating cells.
Once they bind with cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids become activated. Although research is still ongoing on the reason for this binding, researchers suggest that it is usually triggered when a system in the body is out of balance to help correct the problem.
Similarly, the best part about the ECS is its precision. For instance, if your body temperature is beyond the normal range, the endocannabinoid system will swiftly correct this problem without interfering with other body processes.
Additionally, once the ECS corrects the problem, the enzymes break down the cannabinoids to prevent overcorrecting of the problem.
The therapeutic aspects of the ECS
According to numerous reports, the endocannabinoid system consists of various promising therapeutic targets. Although endocannabinoids are naturally produced in the body, cannabinoids potentially present in multiple compounds of the cannabis sativa plant- cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Cannabinoids may help treat these conditions:
- Chronic pain in adults.
- Nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients.
- Sleep disorders.
- Muscle tightness and other symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
It is important to note that research is still ongoing on how stimulating the ECS can lead to various therapeutic benefits.
For more information on the endocannabinoid system and how it works, do not hesitate to contact Transformative Health today! Similarly, book your appointment with us today and begin your journey with us.