Role of the Endocannabinoid System

Written by Hannah Dahlgren

Cannabis is able to interact with our bodies because of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This system provides loads of receptors for different cannabinoids to bind to. To put it simply, the ECS is like the receiver of cannabinoids that then tells different cells to do different things based on the cannabinoids put in. The different chemical reactions that happen when cannabis binds to our receptors are what create a wide variety of responses in the body- such as pain relief.

The Endocannabinoid system runs deep and touches all major body systems, which is why cannabis can do so many things for the body. The ECS is the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Its widespread involvement in the body explains why such a wide variety of ailments and diseases are responsive to cannabis treatments.

Before we dive in too deep, it is important to understand that the Endocannabinoid System’s vital purpose for health is to regulate our bodies to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is the state in which our body is completely balanced and at a stable equilibrium. The Endocannabinoid System gets deployed exactly when and where it is needed to achieve homeostasis.

This system is responsible for complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and all of our organs. It serves as a bridge from the body to mind. A functional cannabinoid system is essential for health and can be enhanced by consuming cannabis.

When cannabis is consumed, it signals the body to produce more endocannabinoids and build more receptors which then enhances and strengthens the ECS. This is why many first time smokers do not feel an effect; their body still needs to build more receptors and strengthen the ECS system in order for it to be received properly by the body.

When the body does not produce enough endocannabinoids (or cannot regulate them properly), the body becomes more susceptible to illness. Think of the ECS as a chemical messenger that tells your body when to start or stop certain processes.

The ECS is a biological system that is capable of interacting with THC. Without the Endocannabinoid System, patients would not be able to obtain the therapeutic benefits of THC. By understanding homeostasis and how the ECS illustrates this at a cellular level, we are able to grasp how cannabis is able to perform within our bodies.