The benefits of medical marijuana and hemp are many and as every day passes, research deepens into how we can use this amazing plant to heal and help so many people around the world. How do the cannabis plant and the products made from it have an effect on the body? The effect of cannabis and its active components like THC and CBD works on the body through the endocannabinoid system or ECS. We take a look in more detail into what exactly the endocannabinoid system is. From here on out, we will call it the ECS.
The ECS was “discovered” as recently as only twenty-five years ago as scientists sought to figure out how cannabis affects the body. The ECS is a biological system in the body that regulates and balances certain functions. The functions of the ECS system can be summed up as Relax, Eat, Sleep, Forget and Protect. Some of the function in the human body that the ECS regulates include:
The ECS is made up of a network of cannabinoid receptors, the main ones of which are cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2). Our ECS has its own endocannabinoids as well as enzymes. Working together, this system regulates the functions we mentioned above.
When something happens to the body to disturb its homeostasis (balance), endocannabinoids are produced and released and bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors. The act of the endocannabinoids binding to receptors (like a key fitting into a lock, where the receptors are the lock) leads to bodily responses that seek to restore balance.
One of the main responses in the body regulated by the ECS is the stress response. When something happens to cause stress to the body, the ECS can help to reduce the effect of the stress and calm the body.
The compounds found in cannabis that include THC, CBD, and many other phytocannabinoids and terpenoids can help the ECS do its job by fitting into the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the same way that our endocannabinoids do. In this way, they can influence or enhance the function of the ECS.
For more information on how phytocannabinoids such as CBD can help balance on the ECS, you can watch this informative video for more details.
Research is only just beginning to study the hundreds of compounds in the magical cannabis plant and how beneficial it can be for the human body.