The Endocannabinoids system is a specified molecular system that helps regulate a spectrum of biological functions – mainly, it helps the body maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis means that your body is functioning in balance, that there is an internal harmony – regardless of the stressors in your surrounding environment. Although you may not be aware of this internal system, scientists have known about it for 25 years (verywellhealth.com). This system was originally discovered by scientists who were tracing the metabolic pathways of THC.
So what does the word Endocannabinoid actually mean? If we look at the root of the word, Cannabinoid, it comes from the word cannabis which is the plant variety used to produce hemp. The prefix of endo is short for endogenous, meaning naturally produced in the body. So all together Endocannabinoid simply means cannabis-like substances that are naturally occurring in our body. There are three parts to the Endocannabinoids system (or ECS for short):
- Receptors in the nervous system and within your body that Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids bond with
- Enzymes that assist in breaking down Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids
There are (at least) two types of receptors in our body tissue that assist the ECS in regulating our homeostasis levels. The first is called CB1, which is located in our central nervous system (ie. the brain and the spinal cord). Second, there is CB2, which is found in our peripheral nervous system, or to put it plainly, the nerves in our arms and legs. While it has been hypothesized that there is a third receptor, it has not yet been discovered or proven. These receptors are responsible for regulating some very important bodily functions (temperature, appetite, mood, memory, pain, among others). This system is so precise that it can work to regulate one bodily function, digestion for example, without disrupting the function of another (verywellhealth.com).
Research has shown that receiving small doses of natural cannabinoids, from hemp for example, can help support the ECS. This means an increased sense of homeostasis overall. These effects can also be achieved through regular exercise and by increasing your intake of essential fatty acids, like Omega 3 – which also assist in cannabinoid brain signaling (medium.com).
The bottom line? Keeping your Endocannabinoid system operating at full capacity improves your internal balance and supports healthy body function in all areas.