It may be one of the most recently discovered systems of the human body, but it’s also one of the most ancient. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex, cell-signaling, system, made up of three primary components:

  • Endocannabinoids (also called endogenous cannabinoids)
  • Receptors
  • Enzymes

The Endocannabinoid system is an internal network, which helps to regulate almost all systems of the body. By combining these three core components, the ECS helps to manage, and maintain, a state of homeostasis. 

How Does the Endocannabinoid System Work?

With the discovery of the ECS came the discovery of new receptors, most commonly found on cell membranes. Unsurprisingly, these receptors are called cannabinoid receptors, or CB, for short, and thus far have been separated into CB1 and CB2 receptors:

  • CB1 receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system
  • CB2 receptors are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system. More specifically, they are often the most concentrated in immune cells
  • Both receptor types can be found throughout the body and in our organs. Ongoing research continues to discover their presence, and create new hypotheses for their purpose.

Endocannabinoids are molecules/neurotransmitters produced naturally in the body. When the body is subjected to stress, or out of balance, it produces these endocannabinoids, which bind to and activate receptor sites throughout the body. This causes some form of internal reaction and keeps the internal functions of the body operating smoothly. 

Depending on the desired action, the enzymes within the ECS system are responsible for synthesizing these endocannabinoids or breaking them down when the job is done.

What Does the Endocannabinoid System Do?

This adaptogenic system can help to regulate and/or balance an incredibly wide variety of our bodies systems and functions, including[1]:

  • The immune system
  • Energy
  • Metabolism
  • Stress response
  • Digestion
  • Mental Health
  • Mood
  • Pain perception
  • Memory and neural plasticity
  • Blood pressure

A healthy endocannabinoid system can help your body to recover, improve your immune system, and reduce inflammatory responses. The good news is you can support and improve it!