The Endocannabinoid System and its Impact on the Human Body


By Greenhouse Ventures Team

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, consisting of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors

The receptors are configured only to accept cannabinoids, specifically tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). There are two primary cell receptors that make up the ECS, Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2). In addition to THC and CBD, there are hundreds of other cannabinoids in every strain of cannabis, each impacting the ECS differently.  This system is present in all human bodies and many animals, and is responsible for regulating balance in the body’s immune response system, communication between cells, appetite and metabolism, memory, and more.

Though the endocannabinoid system was discovered relatively recently,  research has shown that the cell receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system are designed to pair with hundreds of different cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Certain cannabinoids even target specific types of receptors located on the surface of cells in different areas of the body. This is what is known as binding affinity. When a patient experiences little to no relief after treating with medical cannabis (regardless of the symptom being treated), it is because there was a low binding affinity between the cannabinoids in that specific strain and the receptors in your body’s endocannabinoid system.

In 2013, it was discovered that alterations in signaling in the endocannabinoid system may contribute to Autism. If cannabis has the potential to strengthen the endocannabinoid system, could cannabis reduce or eliminate these alterations? When dealing with pain management and inflammation, the ECS is able to downregulate stress-related signals that lead to chronic inflammation and certain types of pain. There is also a need for a trusted treatment for epilepsy, and many scientists are looking at the potential of cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. Early reports indicate that cannabinoid compounds are anticonvulsant, however; the role of the ECS in regards to regulating seizure activity has not been properly tested yet.

Since its discovery, we have learned that the ECS regulates many important physiologic pathways in the human body, such as gastrointestinal activity, cardiovascular activity, pain perception, maintenance of bone mass, protection of neurons, hormonal regulation, metabolism control, immune function, and inflammatory reactions.

Due to years of federal prohibition and limited access to research, we know very little about this system, specifically regarding the impact of cannabis. However, with hundreds of different cannabinoids and receptors throughout the ECS, there are endless opportunities for research. We are continuing to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the endocannabinoid system and the impacts of cannabis, but not fast enough for some patients.

Doctors, researchers, and scientists who have been studying the endocannabinoid system and its benefits and impact on the body will take the stage Saturday, June 24 through Sunday, June 25 at the International Canna Pro Expo. This is a unique opportunity for those looking to further their understanding on medical cannabis, its impact on the endocannabinoid system, and its range of health benefits. 

The International Canna Pro Expo is co-hosted by Greenhouse Ventures – the first innovation accelerator specific to ancillary startups in the cannabis and industrial hemp industries. Greenhouse Ventures’ mission is to assist in building a sustainable cannabis industry by providing education and training to early stage startups servicing the industry.

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