The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) Explained
The Endocannabinoid System - the 'ECS’, plays a crucial role in regulating and maintaining physical and mental health and well-being. It was only discovered in the early 1990's and is a system found to be in all mammals and many other species. It was quickly realised that the main function of the ‘ECS' was to maintain bodily homeostasis - biological harmony (internal stability) in response to changes in the environment.
The substances that come from the Cannabis Plant - the 'cannabinoids' or CBD - were discovered long before the Endocannabinoid System, which is why it was aptly named after this amazing plant.
Endocannabinoid is derived from the word Endogenous (Endo - meaning produced naturally inside the body) and Cannabis. The Phytocannabinoids (Phyto - meaning derived from plant) found in the hemp plant mimic our own bodies production of cannabinoids - cannabis-like molecules - by naturally influencing its effects.
It was first thought that Endocannabinoids Receptors (including the serotonin receptors) were only present within the brain and nervous system but it was later discovered by scientists, the receptors that the Endocannabinoids and CBD bond with, were also present throughout the entire body including in our skin, heart, blood vessels, immune system, skeletal muscle, liver, pancreas, kidney, gastrointestinal tract & more.
It was also discovered that the ‘ECS’ plays a huge part in a wide variety of bodily processes such as - pain, inflammation and neuro-inflammation, memory, mood, stress, sleep, appetite, digestion, metabolism, motor control, immune function and reproductive/fertility.
When a part of your body is operating outside of its normal range, it activates the 'ECS’ to help correct it. For example: when you're sweating, it’s your 'ECS' that works to cool you and does this via cannabinoid receptors found in select tissues - of which we have (at least) two types:
- CB1 which is in the central nervous system (brain and nerves of the spinal cord)
- CB2 which is in the peripheral nervous system (nerves outside of brain and spinal cord)
Your body activates the ‘ECS’ with such precision, that it only impacts the areas it needs to. For example, if your hormones levels are out of sync, it will work to regulate them without altering anything else.
Then, once the ‘ECS’ has done its job and brought things back into balance, enzymes get to work breaking them down to prevent them from going too far and upsetting the balance in the opposite direction.