We all know that we have a network of nerves that run through our body. They deliver nerve impulses from the brain to muscles and other organs. We also know that we have a network of blood vessels that carry blood to and from the heart. But did you know that we have a special network of receptors that is dedicated to receiving signals from compounds called endocannabinoids?
Endocannabinoids are molecules that are created by the body to send messages from one biological system to another. All our bodily systems need to be in constant communication with each other for us to function normally. And it is the endocannabinoid system that takes care of this.
How does the Endocannabinoid System work?
Every organ in our body is made up of cells and each of these cells has a membrane enclosing it. The cell membrane acts as the skin of the cell and is made up of proteins and fats. Lodged in the cell membrane are cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are shaped a certain way so that endocannabinoids can bind to them, something like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle fitting together. Endocannabinoids travel through the circulatory system and bind to their receptors to send signals to cells.
Together these receptors form the endogenous endocannabinoid system and serve as the telephone network of the body. The main purpose of the system is to maintain homeostasis or balance in the body. So, when there is extra glucose in the blood, the release of insulin is triggered so that cells can absorb the glucose, and maintain the correct balance of blood components.
Through its communication mechanism, the endocannabinoid system helps to regulate all the functions in the body making sure that everything works in sync. Endocannabinoid systems are found all over nature from simple organisms like worms to complex mammals like humans.
Cannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System
What is interesting about the endocannabinoid system is that it is responsible for both the good and not so good effects cannabis has on the body. CBD (the good) and THC (not so good) are cannabinoids found in cannabis that affect the human body in different but very noticeable ways.
Cannabinoids are able to cause a reaction because they are similar to our bodies own endocannabinoids and bind to receptors in the system. In fact, it was the study of the effects of cannabinoids on the body that led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system and earned it its name.
CBD’s effectiveness in regenerating the endocannabinoid system prompted researchers to explore the possibility of a treatment for endocannabinoid deficiency. Their theory proved to be right as levels of certain endocannabinoids increased in individuals that were deficient.
The research is ongoing, but more and more studies are showing the link between CBD and the endocannabinoid system and how the therapeutic effects of CBD can be harnessed. Long may this research continue...