What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The Endocannabinoid System, or ECS, is a complex cell signaling pathway for regulating a variety of physiological process like Sleep, Mood, Pain, Appetite, Anxiety, Stress and more!

What are the different components of the Endocannabinoid System?

The ECS is can be separated into three main components: Enzymes, Receptors, and Endocannabinoids.

Endocannabinoids, like Anandamide, are compounds naturally produced and regulated in the body that bind to special receptors found in the central and peripheral nervous system, thus eliciting some type of physiological response.

The physiological response that is produced from a bind event is dependent on the type of Endocannabinoid, and the location of the receptor to which it binds.  If the Endocannabinoid binds to a receptor in the Peripheral Nervous System (these receptors are classified as CB2 receptors) for example, an anti-inflammatory response may be elicited in that area. If the Endocannabinoid binds to a receptor in the Central Nervous System (these receptors are classified as CB1 receptors), that individual may feel his chronic pain subside.

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Enzymes, like FAAH and MAGL, are then responsible for recycling the endocannabinoids after the appropriate physiological response is elicited. Endocannabinoids (Anandamide) molecular fragility lends themselves to be broken down quite easily, so high concentrations of endocannabinoids do not stick around in the body long.

Endocannabinoid System Diagram with CBD

How does CBD interact with the Endocannabinoid System?

The way CBD interacts with the ECS isnt completely understood.

Some research suggests certain cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, effect the brains chemical response to serotonin already present in the system.

  • Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating your mood, sleep, digestion and behavior.
  • Lower serotonin levels are commonly seen in those fighting chronic depression and anxiety.
  • Patients on a strict CBD regimen have shown increase serotonin levels in the body, thus helping fighting depression and anxiety.

Other research suggests that CBD disrupts the ECS’s natural process by inhibiting the enzymatic breakdown of endocannabinoids in the body.

  • Cannabinoids have shown to block the enzyme, FAAH, from recycling endocannabinoids like Anandamide, thus boosting levels of anandamide in the body for a prolonged period of time. An increase in concentration of Anandamide in the body is correlated with reduced stress, anxiety and more! Thus by not allowing the breakdown of anandamide, a patient taking CBD experiences prolonged feelings of calm and peace.
  • In other words, CBD blocks the FAAH enzyme from breaking down anandamide, resulting in endocannabinoids having a longer lasting effect on the body, which can be beneficial for people who are dealing with anxiety disorders, as well as pain, nausea, and numerous other medical conditions.

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