There is a lot that we don’t understand about marijuana and our own bodies. One of the things scientists are focusing on now is the endocannabinoid system and how it works with marijuana.
We don’t want you to have to have a university degree to understand how the endocannabinoid systemworks, so we’ll try and make this guide on the endocannabinoid system and how it works as simple as possible. THC and CBD are cannabinoids. Their full names are tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, but we’ll call them THC and CBD throughout the rest of this article. THC is a similar shape to a compound which our bodies produce naturally. Due to the shape of THC, it is able to lock into the endocannabinoid system. This is why THC has the effect it has on our bodies.
WHAT IS THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM?
The endocannabinoid system is a series of cell receptors located around our bodies. These cell receptors correspond with molecules and act as a lock on the surface of our cells. The keys which unlock these locks on our cells are known as agonists. When an agonist binds to a cell, it sends a message which gives your cell instructions. The endocannabinoid system is the name given to a series of these cell receptors which react to a particular kind of agonist. The two primary receptors in the endocannabinoid system are the Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and the Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2). The keys to unlocking the CB1 and CB2 receptors are called endocannabinoids. This is a natural form of THC which our body produces. Endocannabinoids first got their name from cannabis. Cannabinoids were discovered first in plants, and endo means within. Cannabinoid refers to a compound which fits into a cannabinoid receptor. The two main types of endocannabinoid molecules are known as anandamide and 2-Ag. If it weren’t for the studies that scientists were doing into the psychoactive properties of THC, they would never have discovered them. An Israeli scientist,Raphael Mechoulamdiscovered them back in the 60s. It was this discovery which spurred a rush of studies into how THC worked and what we could utilize it for. It was almost twenty years later that anandamide was discovered. They still didn’t know what to call it, so they named it after the Sanskrit word which means ‘bliss.’ Now, anandamide is known to many scientists and people as the bliss molecule.
WHAT DOES THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM DO?
Cannabinoid receptors are located around the body, in different locations which gives them a wide variety of functions. The majority of cannabinoid receptors are all located in key areas of our bodies. The CB1 Receptors are mainly found in our central nervous system, and the CB2 Receptors are centered in our immune cells, peripheral nervous system, and gastronomical tracts. It’s because of the diverse locations of these receptors that it shows how important endocannabinoids are for our bodies. Endocannabinoids help to regulate important functions such as:
- Our sleeping patterns
- Our appetite, digestive behavior, and hunger
- Moods and mental health
- Motor control functions
- The way our immune system functions
- The reproduction and fertility cycles
- Pleasure and reward functions
- Memory and recall
- The temperature regulation around our bodies
Endocannabinoids act like the chemical messengers around our bodies telling our body to keep things going and when to stop things. It’s through the process of homeostasis that our bodies maintain its balance. Endocannabinoids help maintains this balance. When your endocannabinoid system is interrupted or thrown off balance, your bodily functions and health can be impacted. It’s an unbalance in our endocannabinoid system which doctors believe leads towards conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia. If you have a dysfunctional endocannabinoid system, it would be referred to as a ‘Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency.’
WHERE DO ENDOCANNABINOIDS COME FROM?
You can source endocannabinoids naturally through your diet. One of the highest sources of endocannabinoids is Omega-3 fatty acids. There are several different foods which are high in the Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, sardines, and not surprisingly, hemp seeds. There has been researching done on animalswhich show that diets low in Omega-3 fatty acids could affect mood changes. If you don’t enjoy fish, flaxseed oil, walnuts, wild rice, eggs, soybeans, and enriched dairy products are all sources of food high in Omega-3 fatty acids
This is just a basic look at how the endocannabinoid system works, what effects it, and how you can make decisions to improve your health based on the endocannabinoid system. Through the simple choices that we make we can have a big impact on our own bodies and our health. If you have been suffering from a serious health condition, then medicinal marijuana could be of assistance. Before stopping any medication or treatments, or starting new treatments, it’s important to speak to your healthcare professional.