What is the Endocannabinoid System, or ECS?
Discovered in the late 1980s, the Endocannabinoid System, or ECS is a biological system found in all mammals, composed of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. The ECS is believed to have more cellular receptor sites than any other receptor system. The widespread distribution of these cannabinoid receptors shows just how important the ECS is to our overall bodily function and health.
What are Endocannabinoids?
Endocannabinoids are endogenous neurotransmitters that are produced by our bodies. They regulate neurotransmission and allow for feedback loops. Anandamide and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are the two primary endocannabinoids.
What are Phytocannabinoids and how are they different than Endocannabinoids?
Phytocannabinoids are plant derivative compounds (primarily extracted from cannabis) that mimic the characteristics of the endocannabinoids. THC and Cannabidiol (CBD) are the two primary phytocannabinoids that mimic the endocannabinoids Anandamide and 2-AG, respectively. Both endocannabinoid and phytocannabinoids, collectively referred to as cannabinoids, bind to cannabinoid receptors that exist throughout the mammalian body.
What are cannabinoid receptors?
Our ECS includes two primary cell cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. While these receptors are found throughout the body, they tend to concentrate in certain areas. CB1 receptors are abundant in the brain, while CB2 receptors are more often found on immune cells, in the gastrointestinal tract, and in the peripheral nervous system.
The endocannabinoid Anandamide, as well the phytocannabinoid THC target CB1 receptors, predominantly found in the brain and nervous system, as well as in peripheral organs and tissues. The other main endocannabinoid 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and its own mimetic phytocannabinoid, CBD, are active at both CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors.
What is cannabidiol (CBD)?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in hemp. CBD is one of over 100+ cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike many of the other cannabinoids, CBD hemp strains have been bred so that CBD occurs in significant quantities; therefore, it is relatively easily extracted from these strains.