Welcome to part two of the Endocannabinoid System. In part one (1) we broke down big words like “Homeostasis”, “Endocannabinoid” and went through what the ECS is. In this part we take an in-depth look at what makes up the “Endocannabinoid system” and how homeostasis is achieved by the ECS.
This article will take you into 4 different parts of the Endocannabinoid System and how they all work together to provide balance to the body.
Firstly, we have to talk about Cannabinoids and how the ECS is affected in the same way.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds produced by the Cannabis plant. When Marijuana is used via any effective method, Cannabinoids enter the body and bind to specific “receptors”, they fit together like a “lock and key”. The varied combination of Cannabinoid/s and receptor/s can produce a range of effects.
Out of more than 200 known Cannabinoids, two of the most popular are THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) which the Cannabis plant produce naturally.
However, humans are more similar to the Cannabis plant than we think. Exactly as the Marijuana plant produces Cannabinoids, the human body produces its own! They are called “Endocannabinoids”(Endogenous-Cannabinoids).
Just like Cannabinoids from the plant, the Endocannabinoid will attach to “receptors” in the body and provide a range of effects.
So far scientists have identified two main Endocannabinoids:
These chemical interaction between the bodies Endo-Cannabinoids and the “Endo-Cannabinoid Receptors” are vital for keeping our internal bodily functions running smoothly.
These Endocannabinoid receptors and are found within certain types of tissue in our body.
For example, the two main Endo-Cannabinoid receptors in the human-body are:
Endocannabinoid receptors are most plentiful in our Central Nervous System which controls most of our body and mind functions.
More recently, scientists claim to have found a third receptor. Unfortunately like all areas of Cannabis, more research is needed. But with the chemical compounds and receptors combining in all kinds of ways, the body is able to return in self to a chemically balanced state.
What’s more remarkable is that the human body activates the ECS at such a precision that it only effects what it needs to. This is something that pharmaceutical medicine often fails to do for decades. For example if your digestive system is playing up, it will only work to regulate the digestive system without affecting your reproductive hormones.
Once the Endo-Cannabinoids have done their job, special “Enzymes” come along to break them down, preventing them from doing any more work. Pretty much like a clean up crew – ensuring that the Endo-Cannabinoids don’t do too much to offset the body’s balance.
Enzymes are responsible for breaking down the Endocannabinoids once they’ve completed their function.
FAAH (Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase) is a common enzyme known for breaking down the AEA (Anandamide) Endocannabinoid. If we compared AEA to the THC Cannabinoid, the effects of THC would be felt longer in the body because the FAAH enzyme does not tell it to stop working.
These are just a few of the reasons to why the human Endocannabinoid System is among the most complex and important bodily functions that scientists are still trying to understand today.
Although, research has linked the Endocannabinod System to directly affecting bodily functions and processes that we have covered in part 1 of this series. Click here to read the full article and let us know what you think in the comments!
Peace and love.