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How Does the Endocannabinoid System Work?

Have you wondered why every health-concerning subject about marijuana always has a section on the endocannabinoid system, or ECS? I’ve been there. Quite simply, ECS is the baseline of every medical marijuana’s therapeutic activity. Put it this way. ECS is the reason that marijuana can carry out its medicinal effects. The point is that the reason that is making the entire nation crazy over a medical marijuana card is somehow related to this system.

So, what does it all mean?

It means that we only mention this system in touch and go without giving much detail about it. That’s why we are putting across every relevant piece of information to understand this phenomenal network. So, here we are presenting the “how’s” and “what’s” of this central component of health. Let’s get started.

What is the endocannabinoid system?

The endocannabinoid system is a signaling system that includes compounds, enzymes, and receptors to manage the balance inside a human system. However, its discovery was a fluke since scientists found it while exploring one of the primary cannabinoids of marijuana, THC. Although scientists and researchers are still trying to decode its potential, they have confirmed its function as a regulatory mediator for a variety of processes. These include:

  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • Appetite
  • Cognition
  • Reproduction
  • Metabolism
  • Chronic pain
  • Motor control
  • Muscle function
  • Bone remodeling and growth

Most of the tasks that an ECS carries out are meant to stabilize the internal environment. And it gets better.

You know it requires only three core components to ensure everything is working correctly. But before we talk about the interaction between marijuana and ECS, let’s first talk about the core components of ECS. That includes endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes.


They are also referred to as endogenous cannabinoids, or the molecules that your body produces naturally. In fact, these are the molecules that cannabinoids in marijuana mimic to produce similar effects. As far as we know, experts identified two endocannabinoids, i.e., anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). The primary function of both of these endocannabinoids is to ensure tasks are running smoothly.

Endocannabinoid Receptors

These receptors are present throughout the body. Experts revealed that endocannabinoids bind to these receptors to produce the desired effects. Primarily, there are two types of ECS receptors, such as CB1 and CB2. The former is present mostly in the central nervous system, and the latter is spread across the peripheral nervous system (primarily immune cells).

The effects that endocannabinoids produce depend on the location of the receptor. And the type of endocannabinoid that binds For example, if an endocannabinoid targets a CB1 receptor at the spinal nerve, you can feel pain-relieving effects. However, if the endocannabinoid binds to the CB2 receptor, you might experience anti-inflammatory responses.

Also, read: Is cannabis smoking safe during the coronavirus pandemic?


They are compounds that help break down endocannabinoids after they are done with their assigned task. Two types of enzymes are responsible for carrying out most of these functions, such as fatty acid amide hydrolase, which works by breaking down AEA. and monoacylglycerol acid lipase that breaks down 2-AG.

How does the ECS work?

We already mentioned that ECS functions via endocannabinoids such as 2-AG and receptors. However, this is just a basic concept. The actual mechanism is far more complex and uses cell-to-cell networks. It’s so astonishing that endocannabinoids are only up to fulfilling their duty of maintaining homeostasis. And while doing so, it accomplishes such a wide range of functions. Put it another way. Even though there are dozens of functions carried out by the endocannabinoid system, the only thing it’s interested in is health, efficiency, and equilibrium within the human body.

Let me give you an example. Imagine you met with an accident that resulted in scratches, cuts, and bruises. Obviously, it will take some time to get back to its original state. But how does that happen? It’s a no-brainer. ECS functions to heal the tissue after an injury. It will trigger the release of anandamide and 2-AG to decrease the production of sensitizers in the area around the site of injury. Hence, it helps to prevent any nerve-cell bombing, i.e., alleviate pain.

In addition to that, it also decreases the influx of immune cells, which could result in excessive inflammation. All in all, a single system carried out three different pathways to carry out a single function of reducing pain and thereby repairing the damaged area. Likewise, it carries out a multitude of tasks that can directly influence any individual’s response to a stimulus. That’s why 420 doctors recommend a medical marijuana card to patients who are unable to manage their condition with the help of traditional medications.

Now, let’s get to the next section of this article. How does marijuana work with this system to carry out a variety of therapeutic functions?

How Does Marijuana Interact With The Endocannabinoid System?

Given the fact that every individual has an ECS to carry out its functions, many are left wondering: why would anyone need cannabis in the first place? Well, the answer is easier than you think, i.e., endocannabinoid deficiency. Yes, you heard it right. Experts believe that clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) is a thing. And theoretically, if your ECS is not functioning correctly, it might act as a trigger for a range of symptoms or health conditions.

Can this really be true?

Let’s support this with a 2016 article that reviewed more than ten years of research on why people develop conditions like migraine, fibromyalgia, or IBS. It was interesting to note that not a single condition had any apparent cause. And if we go by the theory, targeting ECS will help to provide a treatment option when all other treatments fail to work.

Here’s how marijuana comes into the picture. When the body is unable to manage the balance in the absence of sufficient endocannabinoids, that’s how the concept of medical marijuana came into play. If endocannabinoids are not present in their right amounts, cannabis will replenish the system with what’s lost. and will help get the system back to where it was.

We are not through yet.

Since the internet is filled with marijuana articles, I am sure you have an idea by now that cannabis contains more than 100 cannabinoids. So, you should know their pathophysiology in your body. However, research and data mostly talk about primarily two different cannabis cannabinoids, i.e., THC and CBD. So, we will be talking about both of them and their interactions with the ECS one by one.

How Does THC Work With ECS?

THC is the compound that gets you “high.” It enters your system and interacts with the ECS by binding with both the receptors, CB1 and CB2. That’s why it produces a wide range of effects on your mind and body. However, some of its effects might be less desirable than others. For instance, it helps to reduce pain while also boosting your appetite. Contrary to that, it also produces euphoria, which makes it a bit controversial as a cannabinoid.

Also, read Here’s How Marijuana Can Help You Achieve Mental Wellness.

How Does CBD Work With ECS?

This is yet another cannabinoid that one can rely on. However, unlike THC, it won’t make you “high.” In other words, it won’t cause any psychoactive effects that might cause any adverse effects. However, experts are still unsure about its interaction with the ECS. But they confirmed that it does not bind to any of the receptors. They believe that it works by preventing the breakdown of endocannabinoids. Some also think that there is one more receptor that CBD binds to that has not yet been discovered.

However, such research articles confirmed that CBD has a role to play in reducing pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with multiple conditions. So, going for a medical marijuana card won’t be a bad thing after all.

To sum it up,

Your body must maintain homeostasis to carry out each of the functions effectively. However, the kind of life we are living, in addition to sudden environmental changes, is making it impossible to maintain a balance. So, the chances are you might end up with a psychological or physical health condition. Since we already learned that ECS plays a significant role in doing so, using marijuana can help manage your condition and its symptoms. However, since it’s still a Schedule 1 drug, you must have a medical marijuana card to enjoy the health benefits without any hassles.

Have you talked to 420 doctors yet?