Have you ever thought about how your CBD or medical cannabis is helping you? Wondering if you have an endocannabinoid deficiency? Not sure what an endocannabinoid system is? Or what an Ant has to do with any of this?
Well, stick around as we answer these and many more questions you may have about the Endocannabinoid System.
We’ve gone through loads of scholarly articles, picked out the key findings and tried to make it accessible to everyone.
This is the start of a series of articles on the science behind cannabis. So, let’s begin with the Endocannabinoid system.
What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
Essentially the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system in the body that helps regulate and balance key bodily functions such as:
- Learning and memory
- Emotional processing
- Temperature control
- Pain control
- Inflammatory and immune responses
- Eating and appetite
A bit of science here, but you can skip ahead, if that’s not your thing.
The ECS involves three main parts: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. So, let’s start from the top.
Our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids (‘endo’ meaning within), these endocannabinoids stimulate receptors the same as cannabinoids do.
Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the body that send signals between nerve cells. For example, endocannabinoids are responsible for the “runners high’ people experience.
Two of the main endocannabinoids:
- Anandamide (AEA or arachidonoyl ethanolamide)
- 2-archidonoyl glyerol (2-AG)
The first one discovered, Anandamide, was named after the Sanskrit word ‘ananda’ for bliss. (Hmmm, wonder why they chose that?) Experts believe there might be other endocannabinoids, but more research into the matter is needed.
Cannabinoid receptors are on the surface of cells throughout the body. Endocannabinoids attach or bind to the receptors, which send messages to the ECS that kick-start a response.
There are two primary cannabinoid receptors found in the body:
- CB1 is mainly present in the central nervous system (CNS), which consists of the brain and spinal cord.
- CB2 is mainly present in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and in immune cells.
Experts think a third cannabinoid receptor may also exist, but again more research is required.
Enzymes are responsible for breaking down the endocannabinoids after they carry out the needed response.
The two main enzymes that break down endocannabinoids are:
- Fatty acid amide hydrolase, which breaks down AEA
- Monoacylglycerol acid lipase, which breaks down 2-AG
So, what does this all mean we hear you asking?
Basically, the ECS acts like a traffic officer to control the levels and activity of most other neurotransmitters.
Picture a traffic officer standing in the middle of the road directing traffic. The cars are neurotransmitters wanting to go from neuron to neuron and the policeman directs which cars can go, when and how fast.
This is how they regulate things. By immediate feedback. Turning the activity of whichever system needs to be adjusted up or down, whether that is hunger, temperature, or alertness.
But, what if that traffic officer isn’t doing his job correctly? Well, in that case you may have an endocannabinoid deficiency!
What is an Endocannabinoid deficiency?
In the simplest terms, endocannabinoid deficiency is when the ECS isn’t working properly, it’s out of balance. This can be caused by:
- The body not producing enough endocannabinoids.
- There are not enough receptors.
- Too much enzymes breaking down the endocannabinoids.
Cannabis and the ECS
All of us have tiny cannabis-like molecules floating around in our brains. The cannabis plant, which humans have been using for about 5,000 years, essentially works its effect by hijacking this ancient cellular machinery.
Cannabis contains cannabinoids which interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors much like the endocannabinoids, however each cannabinoid is known to react a bit differently to these receptors.
If you are lacking in endocannabinoids or have a deficiency, it can be highly beneficial to add cannabinoids to assist the body in regulation and balance.
So what’s this got to do with an Ant??
Well insects are the only species on the planet without an ECS! That’s right they can’t get high. (No matter how much smoke or vapour you blow at them!)
That also means that nearly every living creature on this planet could benefit from cannabinoids.
The world is changing and people are beginning to realise the potential benefits that cannabis has, you can now get a prescription for medical cannabis (THC) from private clinics in Great Britain, including the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands. Other cannabinoids (CBD, CBG) are available over the counter.
If you would like to find out more, check back soon as we will be discussing how THC, CBD and other cannabinoids interact with the ECS over our next few articles.
If you would like to know more about this article, or would like to check out our current cannabinoid products available, please don’t hesitate to reach out or check out the rest of the site!