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Science

What is an endocannabinoid system and how does it work?

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When it comes to the human body, scientists are constantly making new breakthroughs in a bid to understand how we function.

When it comes to the human body, scientists are constantly making new breakthroughs in a bid to understand how we function. One relatively recent discovery is the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and more importantly, how it can be optimised and enhance how our bodies function on a day-to-day basis.

If the term ‘endocannabinoid system’ sounds complicated, it’s likely because it is. Scientists’ knowledge of how it works is in its infancy — but is expanding by the day. Essentially, the ECS is a biological system made up of chemical signals and cellular receptors. Responsible for a range of critical bodily functions, this vast internal network operates in a very similar way to the sympathetic nervous system.

The largest receptor system in the human body, the ECS regulates something called homeostasis — which controls changes in our key functions (such as temperature and mood) in order to maintain a stable internal environment. Achieving homeostasis is a delicate balancing act — and one of the many incredible things our bodies do naturally to ensure our survival.

The ECS plays a core role in bridging the mind and body, affecting our memory, sleep, appetite, pain control, inflammatory and immune responses, and even our emotions. Through ECS research, scientists are hoping to find alternative ways of bringing our bodies back into balance.

In order to maintain balance, our bodies produce their own cannabinoids, known as endogenous cannabinoids (or endocannabinoids for short) as a means of regulating our ECS. Endocannabinoids such as anandamide (aka the bliss molecule) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) interact with our ECS’ receptors in the same way a key fits into a lock. The joining of these two things allows the body to make necessary adjustments, turning the receptors ‘on’ or ‘off’, depending on what it needs in that moment.

Typically, our ECS is skilled at self-monitoring our endocannabinoid levels and adjusting our internal environment accordingly. Sometimes, however, it can find itself thrown off-kilter and failing to restore balance. When this happens, research shows that exogenous cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids), such as products formulated with cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG) can help.

From ingestibles (drops, oral sprays and capsules) to skincare (serums, face oils and moisturisers) cannabinoid products are scientifically proven to support your ECS when it needs it most.

References

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