The ECS. The endocannabinoid system, a buzzword in this new era of cannabis. In the last Notes posting, we touched on the ECS briefly. Let us dive a bit deeper into the essence of what it is. There is a significant amount of information available around the ECS and how cannabis interacts with it… let’s dive deeper.
In general, there are two known cannabinoid receptors in the ECS. These are the CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mainly found in the CNS (central nervous system). CB2 receptors are mainly found in the PNS (peripheral nervous system) and immune systems. There are several different cannabinoid classes, but we will only highlight two of them here: endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids (anadamide, 2-AG) are produced endogenously (within the body) and function within the ECS. Phytocannabinoids (THC and CBD) are produced by the plant, Cannabis sativa, and also function within the ECS, plus a multitude of other physiological systems.
The ECS operates through a mechanism called retrograde signalling. This is a fairly unique mode of communication in the human body. Only a few physiological processes use this method of signalling. It is, however, fascinating. In short, the ECS functions as a feedback loop, sending information “upstream” to help modulate or control the ensuing “downstream” processes. Through this mechanism the ECS is able to help bring the body into homeostasis or a balanced state.
The ECS is phylogenetically ancient. It evolved around 600 million years ago. It is present in every animal on the planet, except for insects. In humans, the ECS touches on many foundational physiological systems: reproductive, immune, nervous, pulmonary, and digestive to name a few. Look for future posts in which we will try and tease out the nuance of this amazing, complicated, and awe inspiring system. We hope you that you come to to be love the ECS as much as we do. Enjoy.
Check out Leafly’s overview of the ECS for a deeper look into how it works, how cannabis and cannabinoids interact within your ECS, and where the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears fits into all of this.