The Endocannabinoid System(ECS) is a vast cell signalling network that plays a vital role in the neurological system. ECS plays a considerable role in regulating and moderating the neurotransmitters in the body.
The ECS was discovered in humans when some researchers found a THC-containing compound, Cannabinoid. They play an active role in regulating:
- Appetite and digestion
- Chronic pain
- Inflammation and other immune system responses
- Learning and memory
- Motor control
- Cardiovascular system function
- Muscle formation
- Bone remodelling and growth
- Liver function
- Reproductive system function
- Skin and nerve function
It regulates these functions by creating natural endogenous cannabinoids and binding them to respective cannabinoid receptors.
The ECS is composed of three essential parts:
- The cannabinoid receptors
- The endogenous cannabinoids
- The enzymes
For instance, if you have an inflammation in any part of the body, the cannabinoids will connect with the CB2 (cannabinoid receptors) to transfer signals to the brain. There's no doubt that this system is vital in regulating several homeostatic processes.
How does it work?
The ECS comprises three components: Cannabinoid receptors, endogenous cannabinoids, and enzymes.
The cannabinoid receptors
The cannabinoid receptors are chemo detectors that help the body utilise the substances released in the neurological system. They spread throughout our body, and endocannabinoids bind to them to effect changes initiated by the ECS. Two primary receptors bring about this change:
- CB1 receptors are located in the central nervous system, and they are the largest neurotransmitters found in the human brain. As you grow older, the efficacy of these neurotransmitters increases, reaching maximum levels in adolescence.
- CB2 receptors are located in the peripheral nervous system.
The endogenous cannabinoids
Also called endocannabinoids, they are natural lipid neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that transfer messages between nerve cells). They facilitate several homeostatic functions in the body. They are divided into two:
- Anandamide (AEA)
- 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG)
After the endocannabinoids have carried out their functions, the enzymes break them down for reuse. They are two types involved in this process:
- Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which breaks down AEA
- Monoacylglycerol acid lipase, which breaks down 2-AG
What are the functions of the ECS?
Studies show that the ECS is a vital system because of its contribution to practical Central Nervous System activities. It's a complex signalling system that helps the CNS keep control of body functions and maintain homeostasis.
The functions extend as far as regulation of learning and memory, sleep, emotional processing, anxiety, reproduction, immune responses, and even eating. It has made ECS the centre of renewed international research.
What are the functions of Cannabidiol (CBD)
You will find a lot of CBD oil for sale in the market today. CBD is a non-rewarding phytocannabinoid found in Cannabis. It lacks psychoactive properties and therefore is not detrimental to the body. It has been established that CBD reduces pain by influencing the activities of the endocannabinoid receptors. Its primary functions include:
- Regulates bodily functions: CBD oil interacts with the endocannabinoid system throughout the CNS and Peripheral Nervous System to regulate pain, mood, sleep, and immune system response.
- Modulates brain activities: Its effect on the serotonin receptors also increases the level of serotonin in the brain, which helps regulate mood, anxiety, and depression.
- Treatment of neurological disorders: CBD may also help treat neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, sclerosis, epilepsy, and others.
- Effective against some mental disorders: CBD proved effective in treating mental disorders such as anxiety and its related disorders, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorders), and even depression.
How does CBD stimulate the endocannabinoid system?
Although experts have yet to map out a specific process for the interaction between CBD and ECS, it doesn't bind directly to the CB1 or CB2 receptors like the THC does. Instead, CBD does almost all antagonistic actions recorded for THC.
When CBD enters the body, it does not produce the "high" effect that THC gives. Instead, it boosts the body's ability to use its endocannabinoids. Research by Neurotherapeutics revealed that CBD influences the ECS and many other receptor systems.
CBD indirectly affects the ECS by inhibiting the FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase). It also pauses the enzymatic breakdown of AEA (characterised as a dynamic and stress-responsive neurotransmitter). These two actions enhance AEA and allow it to remain longer in the body, and provide positive medical benefits.
Hence, CBD can increase the body's level of anandamide, which is a compound that controls pain, which reduces pain perception and generally improves mood. CBD is also associated with limiting brain and CNS inflammation.
Many believe that Cannabidiol stimulates the ECS to prevent the endocannabinoids from being broken down. And the prevention is why they can perform more effectively on the body functions.
Some research studies also support the theory that CBD does not bind to CB1 and CB2 because it already binds to a receptor that is yet to be discovered.
How does THC interact with ECS?
Cannabis contains many cannabinoids, but Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main component. It's often regarded as the "high" compound because of its ability to get you high once it enters the body.
THC has a more profound effect on the ECS because it interacts directly with the receptors. Once in your body, it binds with the cannabinoid receptors like endocannabinoids. It has a powerful effect because it can bind with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, thereby unveiling the reward signalling feature of the ECS. THC has a range of impacts on the body, most desirable.
For instance, THC can help reduce pain and improve your appetite. But it can also cause anxiety and paranoia.
The CBD and ECS interaction has not been established on the CB1 and CB2 bonding, but its non-antagonistic effects on the two. CBD inhibits the reward signalling feature of the ECS, thereby creating a beneficial relationship with the body.
The AEA is an essential compound for stress control, and CBD helps stop its degradation. It also preserves AEA by inhibiting FAAH, which reduces the level of AEA and 2-AG in the body. The overall effect of CBD on the endocannabinoid system is to reduce the degradation of essential compounds while inhibiting the impact of detrimental ones.