The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system in humans

CBD and THC fit perfectly into actual human cell receptors. These receptors constitute the endocannabinoid system, which influences physiological functions such as pain regulation, cognition, and hunger, as well as anti-inflammatory and immune system functions.

The endocannabinoid system is made up of two types of receptors, CB1 and CB2, that each serve a different purpose in human health and well-being.

Endocannabinoid system

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a neurotransmitter structure in the body composed of endogenous G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) that plays a key role in the regulation of homoeostasis. The ECS is present in all vertebrates (and some invertebrates) and is known to influence a variety of physiological characteristics including sleep, stress, pain, hunger, memory, digestion, and anxiety.

Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced by the body. It is also activated by cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant, the most popular and thoroughly investigated of which are THC and CBD.

The central and peripheral neurological systems, including the gastrointestinal and urinary tracts, are rich in CB1 receptors. CB1 receptors are thought to influence pain, sleep, hunger, and perhaps memory. CB2 receptors are predominantly present in the innate immunity (tonsils, spleen, lymph nodes) and are responsible for cannabis’ anti-inflammatory properties. Due to the low concentration of CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brainstem, unlike opioids, cardiorespiratory depression and death from cannabis ingestion is nearly impossible.


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Aggarwal, SK., ‘Cannabinergic pain medicine: a concise clinical primer and survey of randomized controlled trial results’, Clinical Journal of Pain, vol. 29 (2) 2013, pp. 161-171.