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What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?

Endocannabinoid System
What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The Endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an essential regulator of bodily functions and comprises different integrated mechanisms such as the enzymes (for buildup and breakdown of cannabinoids), receptor sites and the endocannabinoids themselves. The system works through the communication of cells, metabolism, memory, appetite and many others to regulate balance in the body’s immune response. The endocannabinoids are produced in effect to the body’s physiological needs for regulatory purposes and affect the duration and intensity of the physiological processes by acting backways on the presynaptic cells. ECS is linked to various important processes and found in the brain, reproductive organs and also nervous system but are absent in the brainstem cardiorespiratory centers. ECS is named after the plant that inspired its discovery that is Cannabis sativa. There are two type of Cannabinoid primary receptors, CB1 and CB2 and two endocannabinoid molecules, anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG). CB1 receptors are abundant in the central nervous system and in the spinal cord and function to modulate anxiety, appetite, stress, balance immune system and inhibit tumors while the CB2 is located in the periphery on cells of the immune system and functions to fight inflammation and tissue damage. Once the endocannabinoids finish their signaling roles, the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) degenerates anandamide while enzyme monoaglycerol lipase (MAGL) degenerates the 2-AG.

What does endocannabinoid do to our body, how does it affect our health?

Endocannabinoid SystemSince the discovery of the ECS, scientists have discovered that it can be used to ensure the correct functioning of the body’s central nervous system as well as our immune system. Researchers have found that the ECS can be capable of deleting old memories. This is beneficial to the patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well conditioning the behavior of patients with chronic anxiety by the elimination of aversive memories.

Endocannabinoids system is involved significantly used as a protective and repair role of neuroplasticity. This includes sprouting and pruning synapses, change of neurotransmitter pathways and also alteration of the dendritic spine density. This results in responses such as adaptive learning, acquisition of a new emotional response, recovery from stroke, sensitivity to pain among other pathological processes.

Cannabinoids also control the immune system by increasing Th2 cytokines levels, decreasing Th1 cytokine levels and increasing the subsets of B, T and natural killer cells. Through this method, they allow for a greater well-being. They also prevent the spontaneous activation of immune cell function thereby preventing inflammation and occurrence of neurological diseases.

Appetite is stimulated by cannabis consumption and endocannabinoids are used for appetite control by inversing agonists to the CB1 receptors. This aids individual with obesity by decreasing their body’s desire for food intake. The reverse of the process is used to help individuals gain weight. Endocannabinoids are also used in metabolism regulation while controlling the energy transfer through cells thereby helping optimize the use of consumed food.

The effect of endocannabinoid deficiency

Low levels of endocannabinoids causes Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome which is a term that stands for illnesses such as migraines, fibromyalgia and idiopathic bowel syndrome. These three conditions are likely to affect the same individual at different times in their lives thereby termed as co-morbid. These conditions are characterized by central sensitization where the normal sensations in the brain are intensified to a point they could become painful. The three conditions have been shown to benefit from treatment with cannabinoids. CBD cannabidiol is a component of marijuana that binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors to produce strong medicinal and therapeutic CBD benefits that help alleviate these most common conditions.

Cannabinoid oil (CBD or Hemp Oil) is concentrated with Cannabidiol and is commonly used as it is does not produce psychoactive effects among its users, owing to the low concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels and higher levels of CBD. CBD affects the ECS system by triggering the receptors to release chemicals that work to benefit various parts of the body. Researchers have found that CBD or Hemp Oil benefits are also vast ranging from anti-inflammatory effects, anxiety relief, ease of nausea and vomiting, appetite stimulation, inhibition of cancer spread, relieving psychotic symptoms among others.