The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a naturally occurring complex nerve system that helps to bring the body back to a state of homeostasis or balance. Most living beings have an endocannabinoid system . . . except those pesky insects. The ECS is comprised of receptors, molecules, and enzymes. Endocannabinoid receptors are “docking stations” throughout the body. They have different purposes throughout the body, but their common goal is to keep the balance and flow of neurotransmitters, hormones, and immune cells. The most well-known are the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but research has begun to identify others.
Endocannabinoid molecules are natural chemicals we produce in our body to talk to the receptors. One of the main molecules is Anandamide (bliss molecule), which plays a role in enhancing pleasure and motivation while regulating appetite, sleep, and alleviating pain. Enzymes interact with the endocannabinoids to either aid in a reaction or to flush them out.
CB1 and CB2 Receptors
CB1 Receptors are expressed throughout the brain. Think of them like a circuit breaker that releases inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters. These receptors are abundant in the nervous system, primarily localized in the central and peripheral neurons. They regulate a wide array of brain functions. CB1 receptors are responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis. CB2 Receptors are expressed in the immune cells, which flow throughout the entire body through the bloodstream. These receptors are also found in a few brain regions which involve pain relief, inflammation reduction, immune function, and neuroprotection. Studies have suggested that this receptor may assist in the selection of inputs that guide complex behavior.
The Endocannabinoid System And CBD
There is a fourth component to the endocannabinoid system that was discovered... transport molecules. These transport molecules are what carry the endocannabinoids throughout the body to their destination. They are known as fatty acid binding proteins and are what allow CBD to have an effect. These binding proteins pick up cannabinoids and transport them to wherever in the body, which includes cell membranes and inside cells. Here they interact with receptors on a cell’s nucleus (center). These receptors are called peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR) and they regulate gene expression and energy metabolism. CBD is a VIP traveler on the binding proteins and is able to move throughout the body. This could be why CBD has therapeutic effects. CBD pushes through different molecules subduing them for a time and allowing the natural endocannabinoids in your body to remain on the surface of cells for a longer time. This means that CBD helps maintain the benefits and effects of your natural endocannabinoids before they are ultimately metabolized. CBD can also adjust how your cannabinoid receptor’s function, which allows for the benefits you receive from other cannabinoids like THC.