ECS: Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) was first discovered in the late 1980s and is the largest regulatory system in the human body. It is made up of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and metabolic enzymes.

What is the ECS?


The ECS is the largest neurochemical system in our body, and it plays a crucial role in regulating almost all major bodily functions, such as sleep, appetite, memory, mood, inflammation, sexual function, pain sensation, etc.

The ECS comprises three key components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring molecules that activate CB1 and CB2, the two ECS receptors.

CB1 receptors are found mostly in the central nervous system, with CB2 receptors more abundant in the immune system. Enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids once they have completed their function.


How does medical cannabis interact with the ECS?


The body produces endocannabinoids, while phytocannabinoids come from cannabis. They have very similar chemical structures, allowing phytocannabinoids to interact with the ECS receptors and mimic endocannabinoids' functions.

THC has been shown to interact with the CB1 receptor, while CBD may affect the CB2 receptor and other non-ECS receptors. CBD has also been shown to slow the rate of endocannabinoid breakdown, prolonging their effects.


Are there any risks in using medical cannabis to target the ECS?


While targeting the ECS with medical cannabis can offer therapeutic benefits, there are potential risks and side effects, including altered sensory perception, mood changes, and cognitive impact. Discussing these potential risks with your prescribing specialist is important to ensure informed decision-making.


To find out more about the ECS, click here

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