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The Endocannabinoid System

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

The endocannabinoid system is a complex biological system in the human body. Medical researchers discovered it in the 1990s, but much is still unknown about how it works and its interactions. Today, experts know that it impacts several major processes, including appetite, sleep, mood, and memory, but there is much more yet to be discovered.

The endocannabinoid system has three components: receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids. These parts function regardless of whether someone uses CBD or not.


Receptors exist throughout the body and are a substance to which endocannabinoids bind;

Enzymes appear in many forms, but only two types of enzymes break down endocannabinoids; and endocannabinoids complement the body by keeping internal functions running smoothly.


Understanding the effects of CBD involves examining the relationship between the receptors and endocannabinoids.


There are two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily in the central nervous system and are responsible for governing coordination, movement, pain, appetite, memory, mood, and other functions. The CB2 receptors are in the peripheral nervous system, influencing pain, and inflammation.


After the enzymes break down the cannabinoids, the endocannabinoids look to bind with receptors. Researchers believe that CBD does not directly attach itself to the receptor but influences it in some way. Activating these receptors is what allows for many of the health benefits that people associate with the compound.


CBD can also influence non-cannabinoid receptors. According to Teaera Roland of Lotus Health, CBD modulates the 5ht serotonin receptor, which can treat psychotic disorders. It can also affect the TRPV1 receptor, which is responsible for pain and inflammation.


The non-psychoactive properties of CBD make it ideal for therapeutic use. In addition to treating the multiple forms of epilepsy, CBD is also effective for anxiety, stress, depression, and physical ailments. There is no shortage of research to back up these claims, either.

For instance, one study connects CBD with a reduction in heart conditions, such as heart attacks and strokes. Another short-term study found that a dose of the compound reduced the appetite of patients. There have also been multiple researchers that have shown a link between CBD and treatment for PTSD symptoms, like negative memories, anxiety, and nightmares.

CBD plays a significant role when relieving pain, too. When the CBD influences the TRPV1, it is effectively blocking pain signals from reaching the rest of the body. The inference provides solace from aches, swelling, and discomfort.

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The Endocannabinoid System