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The EndoCannabanoid System

Special receptors found in the cells of dozens of organs within your body, including major systems like your heart, brain and skin.

ECS: What, Where, Purpose.

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a remarkably intricate network within our bodies that contributes to maintaining internal stability, or homeostasis. In a nutshell, it's a mechanism core to your biological process of maintaining homeostasis (well being).

Homeostasis is the body's way of maintaining stability in its internal environment. It's like a set of controls that ensure conditions stay within a specific range, allowing our bodies to function optimally. Imagine it as an autopilot that communicates with and adjusts a vehicles systems or a smart system that adjusts various factors to keep everything in balance - from body temperature and blood sugar levels to hydration and mood and more.


Homeostasis is crucial for our well-being, helping us adapt to changes and ensuring that our body's systems work together harmoniously.  When you're sick, you're out of homeostasis.

The ECS plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes such as cognition, pain sensation, appetite, memory, sleep, immune function, and mood. Comprising of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes, the ECS serves as a regulator for these functions.


To understand these compounds and their naming: Endocannabinoids, are naturally occurring compounds produced inside our bodies. That's why they're called endocannabinoids.


Phytocannabinoids are produced by plants (phyto comes from the Greek for plant), and while there are a couple other plants which produce some minor phytocannabinoids, they are very limited and statistically irrelevant when compared to cannabis, which produces phytocannabinoids which have a strong affinity for ECS interaction and is unique in the plant kingdoms that way.  Cannabis is the primary and only plant known which produces a vast diversity and quantity of phytocannabinoids.


Cannabinoids, regardless of type (endo or phyto) will bind to specific receptor sites in your cellular membranes, similar to locks and keys, triggering responses within the cell that help balance pain perception, mood, appetite, and immune responses and more, with continuing discoveries emerging. 


Receptors in your cells are like tiny sensors and gates, that can recognize certain molecules based on their shape and electrical charge, sort of like how a key fits into a lock. While they're really good at detecting specific molecules, they can sometimes interact with similar ones too.


These receptors act as messengers, passing along signals from outside your cells to the inside, where they can trigger different jobs like turning genes on or off and controlling how your cells work. They're important for keeping your cells functioning properly by letting in the right molecules while keeping out anything that shouldn't be there. And besides receptors, your cells have other ways to make sure they only let in the stuff they need to stay healthy.

Your cellular membranes have many receptors and many different types of receptors all over them.  It's the only way that molecules from outside your body interacts with the inside of your body's functions - your biologic functions.


When a molecule interacts with a cell, it exchanges coded information. This interaction prompts the cell to respond internally by producing its own molecules or sending additional message molecules to other parts of the body, creating a chain reaction. In essence, very long chain reactions are happening in our bodies all the time.  

Various receptor types exist throughout your body's cells, including those for steroids, neurotransmitters, ion channels, nuclear receptors, and others. In this project, we delve into the receptors and functions of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and the relationship to cannabis sativa.

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Some Background on the ECS

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is named after the plant compounds called cannabinoids, which were initially discovered in cannabis. The prefix "endo-" comes from the Greek word "endon," which means "within" or "inner."

The term "endocannabinoid" refers to cannabinoids that are naturally produced within the body, in contrast to "phytocannabinoids," which are cannabinoids found in plants like cannabis.

It was first identified in the 1990s during research aimed at understanding how the active compound in cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), affects the body.


Researchers discovered that the human body produces its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, and has specific receptors that interact with both endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids.

Naming it the "Endocannabinoid System" reflects its connection to both the body's internal regulatory mechanisms and the plant compounds that inspired its discovery.

It should be highlighted that when the ECS interacts with phytocannabinoids, that interaction is longer, stronger and more diverse.  

The entourage effect is a phenomenon observed in cannabis where the combined presence of various cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds enhances or modifies the overall therapeutic and physiological effects of the plant.


While both phytocannabinoids  and endocannabinoids interact with the ECS, there are several factors that contribute to the unique nature of the entourage effect with phytocannabinoids.

In contrast, endocannabinoids are naturally produced by the body in response to physiological needs and interact primarily with the body's own cannabinoid receptors.


While they play essential roles in maintaining homeostasis, the complex mixture of phytocannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis is not replicated in the same way by endocannabinoids.

The entourage effect is an area of ongoing research and discovery. We will highlight new discoveries throughout this project.

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