Endocannabinoid System ECS Explained Health CBD THC Cannabinoids

WTF Is an Endocannabinoid System And Why Do CB2 Receptors Matter?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a starring role in your body beyond the process it’s dubbed for — interacting with cannabis. Like the nervous, immune, and skeletal systems, our endocannabinoid system can regulate body functions, while the CB2 receptor is principally involved in anti-inflammatory actions. Did you know we have a whole bodily system named after cannabis? We did! In this article, we'll explain the endocannabinoid system and CB2 receptors, how they work, and the benefits THC and CBD can have on your health.

What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

The endocannabinoid system was discovered in 1992 when scientists attempted to understand how THC in the cannabis plant interacts with our bodies. The system was named after the plant molecules — cannabinoids. Unfortunately, the war on drugs halted much of the research into the endocannabinoid system.

By breaking down the word "endocannabinoid,” we can gather that “cannabinoid" comes from "cannabis," and "endo" is short for "endogenous," meaning that it’s naturally produced inside your body. So, in short, endocannabinoids are cannabis-like substances that naturally occur inside us. 

The endocannabinoid system is made up of three parts:

  • Endocannabinoids
  • Enzymes that aid in breaking down endocannabinoids and cannabinoids
  • Receptors, such as CB2, located around your body, especially in the nervous system, that endocannabinoids and cannabinoids bond with

To further understand the endocannabinoid system, it helps to be familiar with homeostasis, which is a state of balance among all body systems needed for the body to survive and function correctly. When something operates outside the right balance, your body activates the endocannabinoid system to help correct it. 

Interested in learning more about the endocannabinoid system? For a deep dive, you can check out this TED Talk featuring Rachel Knox, MD / MB.

The Endocannabinoid System and CB2 Receptors

We have at least two types of cannabinoid receptors in our body, which are CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors can be found in the central nervous system and brain. In contrast, CB2 receptors can be found in the peripheral nervous system, the digestive system, and the immune system.

Endocannabinoid System Human Health CB1 and CB2 receptors

Through the CB1 and CB2 receptors, the ECS helps regulate many vital functions like mood, sleep, pain, pleasure, and more. Activity at the CB2 receptor can be seen as a switch that turns on intracellular processes to promote homeostasis while regulating inflammation, cell survival, and proliferation.

The Potential Benefits of CBD and THC for Your Health, Thanks to Your Endocannabinoid System and CB2 Receptors

Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids that come from a plant and have been used for medicinal purposes throughout history. While there is an abundance of different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, CBD and THC are the two most abundant and well-researched phytocannabinoids.


However, due to the war on drugs, the touted benefits of phytocannabinoids in the past have been snuffed out. The discovery and further research into the endocannabinoid system and CB2 receptors are helping scientists discover – and sometimes rediscover – new ways of managing illnesses. Reigniting this flame of interest and research has heavily influenced people's perception of the plant, allowing it to be more widely accepted and utilized medicinally. 


While more and more research is continually being published on the endocannabinoid system, CB2 receptors, and the benefits of cannabinoids, here are some of the most exciting and promising findings as of late:

CBD-based Drug Approved to Manage Rare Cases of Epilepsy in Children

In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex, a CBD-based solution for treating seizures associated with two rare, and very severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, in patients two years of age and older. Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved drug that contains a substance derived from the cannabis plant.

CBD and THC May Provide Pain Relief

THC can activate specific cannabinoid receptors, one of which is in the nerve cells, that may affect the pain sensation. CBD, on the other hand, may help decrease chronic pain by affecting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation, and interacting with neurotransmitters throughout the body. While the FDA hasn’t approved any medication containing cannabinoids to manage pain, doctors in certain states can prescribe medical marijuana for pain. 

CBD and THC May Be Able to Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is the body's immune system's response to an irritant. The most common reasons for chronic inflammation include autoimmune disorders and exposure to toxins, like pollution. Numerous studies show the potential of cannabinoid topical applications to address skin inflammation and conditions.  Blunt Skincare’s Moonrock and Isolate Face Oils contain CBD and, when applied topically, activate the skin's endocannabinoid system along with a host of other amazing benefits for balancing and renewing the skin.

Blunt Skincare Is Here to Answer Your Burning Questions

Confused? That’s perfectly okay! The endocannabinoid system and CB2 receptors are so complex that even scientists struggle to fully understand their intricate functions within our bodies. This is why research is still being administered and strides are being made. We want to note that this article is not offering direct medical advice. However, we’d love to further discuss the topic of the endocannabinoid system and CB2 receptors, so feel free to ask us questions in the comments below. 

You can shop Blunt Skincare’s Moonrock Full Spectrum Renewal Face Oil and Isolate Pure CBD Balancing Face Oil here

References:

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2. Zou, S.; Kumar, U. Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19, 833. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19030833

4. Turcotte C, Blanchet MR, Laviolette M, Flamand N. The CB2 receptor and its role as a regulator of inflammation. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2016 Dec;73(23):4449-4470. doi: 10.1007/s00018-016-2300-4. Epub 2016 Jul 11. PMID: 27402121; PMCID: PMC5075023.

5. Mack A, Joy J. Marijuana as Medicine? The Science Beyond the Controversy. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2000. 4, MARIJUANA AND PAIN. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK224384/

6. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. What is an inflammation? 2010 Nov 23 [Updated 2018 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279298/

7. Henshaw FR, Dewsbury LS, Lim CK, Steiner GZ. The Effects of Cannabinoids on Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Cytokines: A Systematic Review of In Vivo Studies. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2021 Jun;6(3):177-195. doi: 10.1089/can.2020.0105. Epub 2021 Apr 28. PMID: 33998900; PMCID: PMC8266561.

8. Scheau C, Badarau IA, Mihai LG, Scheau AE, Costache DO, Constantin C, Calina D, Caruntu C, Costache RS, Caruntu A. Cannabinoids in the Pathophysiology of Skin Inflammation. Molecules. 2020 Feb 4;25(3):652. doi: 10.3390/molecules25030652. PMID: 32033005; PMCID: PMC7037408.

 

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