What Is The Endocannabinoid System?

The Endocannabinoid System

What is the endocannabinoid system exactly? The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system that was identified in the 1990s by researchers studying THC, a notable cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are compounds present in cannabis. While experts are still trying to fully comprehend the ECS, currently, we are aware that it has a role in regulating a variety of functions and processes such as memory, mood, appetite, sleep, reproduction, and fertility. Scientists today are reviewing the ability to maneuver this system to relieve specific health issues and help restore balance through more natural means.

What Comprises the Endocannabinoid System?

ECS has three components, namely endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes.


They are lipid metabolites that have juxtacrine and paracrine roles in intercellular communication. Ongoing research has shown that endocannabinoids and their receptors have a role in synaptic modulation and plasticity at a broad range of synapses through the human body’s central nervous system. Also known as endogenous cannabinoids, these are molecules made by the body. They help the body’s internal functions run smoothly.


Found specifically on the surface of a cell, cannabinoid receptors “listen” to the environment around each cell of the body. Their function is to transmit information on the current condition to the cell and, thereby, jumpstart a proper cellular response, if there is a need. Endocannabinoids bind them together to signal that the ECS needs to take action


These are responsible for the breaking down of endocannabinoids in the body once they have carried out their function.

There are two primary enzymes in charge of this:

  • Fatty acid amide hydrolase, which breaks AEA down

  • Monoacylglycerol acid lipase, which usually breaks 2-AG down

Basically, the ECS’ function is to maintain the body’s homeostasis. This refers to the body’s ability to stay stable when you are suffering from injury or fever. Your ECS, therefore, helps your body return to its normal operation.

More About ECS

The ECS is more known as the human body’s own cannabinoid system, which involves a variety of physiological process including pain sensation, mood, memory, appetite, and mediating the psychoactive effects of cannabis.

There are two endocannabinoid receptors identified by researchers, CB1 and CB2.

CB1 Receptors

They are found predominantly in the brain and nervous system, including the peripheral organs and tissues. They are the main molecular target of the endocannabinoid ligand, or the binding molecule, anandamide, and its mimetic phytocannabinoid, THC.

CB2 Receptors

This is active in both cannabinoid receptors along with its own mimetic phytocannabinoid, CBD. Both are involved in the regulation of appetite, pain management, and immune system function.

Endocannabinoids are essential for bio-regulation. Their main role is centered on cell-signaling, and since they are hydrophobic, their main function limits to paracrine (cell-to-cell) functions rather than of a systemic effect.