While cannabis has played a role in human society for thousands of years as a plant-based therapy, it wasn’t until the late 1900s that scientists began to learn exactly how and why cannabis is such an effective Remedy.
Since then, thousands of studies have been conducted to learn more about cannabinoids and, more importantly, the role of the endocannabinoid system in our bodies and lives.
What Is the Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (also called the Endocannabinoid System or ECS) is the network of cell receptors and molecules responsible for sending messages throughout the human body. It is a biological system found in most living vertebrates.
However, despite the ubiquity of the ECS and cannabis itself, we’ve just begun learning about cannabinoid education about the true therapeutic potential for cannabis-based Remedies.
The discovery of cannabinoids and ECS receptors
The path to discovering the endocannabinoid system started in 1964 when Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam identified and isolated both CBD and THC. According to Mechoulam, the ability of scientists to isolate cannabinoids was the first step to discovering the biological system that is impacted by cannabinoids.
“By using a plant that has been around for thousands of years, we discovered a new physiological system of immense importance,” said Mechoulam in an interview, “We wouldn’t have been able to get there if we had not looked at the plant.”
Cannabinoid receptors were first found in brains of rats in 1988. The discovery led to finding that these CB receptors are more plentiful in the brain than any other neurotransmitter receptor. In the following years, researchers began using synthesized versions of THC to start mapping the CB receptors in the brain and throughout the rest of the body.
Today, we know that CB1 receptors are located primarily in regions of our nervous system, and CB2 receptors are located throughout our entire bodies.
Together, these receptors are responsible for a plethora of mental and physiological processes, processes we still learn more about everyday. For example, CB2 receptors alone can be found in the liver, spleen, gut, heart, kidneys, bones, blood vessels, lymph nodes, and our reproductive organs.
Some scientists suspect that there may exist a third CB receptor we have yet to discover.
Physiological processes influenced by your Endocannabinoid System
Since the initial discovery of the cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system, and CB receptors, researchers and physicians have uncovered different ways the ECS controls our normal bodily functions.
From helping maintain bone density to mediating hormone secretion, your ECS plays a role in the following physiological and psychological processes:
- Higher cognition
- Motor control and coordination
- Sleep patterns
- Stress moderation
A healthy ECS is fundamental for optimal appetite, mood, sleep, and reproduction. Diet and exercise build and activate the ECS while marijuana products enhance the effects.