What is the endocannabinoid system?

Ever wonder what’s going on in our bodies when we ingest THC and CBD? How is it that we are naturally so well adapted to receive all the benefits of the cannabis plant? The answer lies in our biological system – more specifically, in our endocannabinoid system (ECS). One of the main reasons that plant cannabinoids have medicinal effects is because they are able to interact with our ECS.

How does it work?

It turns out our bodies make their own cannabinoids, called endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids for short. These endocannabinoids interact with the receptors in our ECS, which regulate our digestion, cardiovascular function, pain, wake/sleep cycles, emotional states, and much more. When we ingest plant cannabinoids like THC and CBD, they’re essentially flipping the same switches that our own endocannabinoids would normally interact with. That’s why cannabis has so many potential medical benefits: our bodies are already set up to receive its components.

The two main cannabinoid receptors in our bodies are called CB1 and CB2. There are other ones, but these two are by far the most well studied. CB1 receptors are very abundant in the brain – as a result, they are the switches that interact the most with THC to produce the intoxicating, cerebral effects of cannabis. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are abundant in places like the immune system and tend to bind with CBD. That’s not to say, however, that CB1 receptors exist strictly in the brain and CB2 in the immune system; both types can be found throughout the body.

What is the Entourage Effect?

If you take a closer look at your cannabis flower, you’ll notice a sticky, resinous substance on the top layer of your bud. This substance houses hundreds of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. (Confused about the term ‘terpene’? Check out this post on Ten Most Common Aurora Terpenes). The idea of the Entourage Effect is that these hundreds of compounds interact together to create the many beneficial effects of cannabis, it’s not just about THC or CBD. These two may be the most important players, but it’s the synergy between all the compounds in the plant that truly gives cannabis its medicinal value.

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