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  • Michelle

What is the Endocannabinoid System? - (2 of 7) Seven Elements of Cannabis

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

The first thing to know about cannabis is the Endocannabinoid System. It's the single system in our body that makes cannabis work so well for us, mere humans.

Understanding the Endocannabinoid System is not entirely easy though, it is science! If there is one thing (or a few things – I’m not a scientist or a doctor or even a closet science nerd). I’m just a woman who has chosen to use cannabis as my medicine and became passionate to start educating people about cannabis.

I’ve broken it down into seven topics that I believe will help explain why cannabis works so well for humans.

1. The Endocannabinoid System exists in all humans and most vertebrates.

Yes. You have this system even if you have never consumed cannabis, and in fact, your body produces similar, if not identical, cannabinoids to the phytocannabinoids found in cannabis. More on that later.

2. The ECS is intertwined in almost everything (if not everything) in our human bodies

The ECS does many things that most of us are not aware of; it’s designed to keep our body in a state of homeostasis – or balance. What is it keeping in balance? Our sleep, mood, digestion, appetite, pain, memory, immune function, motor control, reproduction and fertility, pleasure and reward, and temperature regulation.

I’m sure most of you are looking at that list thinking – I have issues with some things.

The best way to understand the ECS is to think of a lock and key with key janitors to keep things balanced and clean in your body. The body has specific receptors that respond to endocannabinoids. These receptors are called CB1 and CB2. CB1 is found primarily in the brain, and CB2 is found within the immune system, nervous system, and even the gastrointestinal tract. However, both receptors are found in both places, so there is overlap.

The body produces endocannabinoids, endo means “within”. The most significant endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-AG (short for Arachidonoylglycerol). The endocannabinoids are referred to as keys that fit into the receptors as locks.

When the body has enough endocannabinoids, it produces enzymes that break down either endocannabinoid. FAAH breaks down anandamide, and MAGL breaks down 2-AG.

3. How does cannabis factor into the ECS?

The cannabis plant produces phytocannabinoids – THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, THCV, and CBDV, to name a few. These phytocannabinoids are similar, if not exact, to the endocannabinoids our bodies produce. Both cannabinoids respond and work with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. THC fits with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but it’s the brain’s receptors that produce the high. CBD doesn’t bind with CB1 or CB2 receptors but instead increases the number of endocannabinoids. The increase in your natural endocannabinoids causes a relaxed, happy state a lot feel from CBD.

THC (image from erzebethh pixabay)

4. Why have you never heard of this until now?

Most doctors are not aware of ECS, and it’s not taught in most medical schools. Believe it or not, the endocannabinoid system was not discovered until 1992 – not even 30 years ago! Don’t be upset with your doctors or blame them for the constant mistreatment of your conditions. The root cause of many diseases stems from an endocannabinoid deficiency that most doctors are unable to treat because they don’t even know what that is.

5. Understanding Endocannabinoid Deficiency

It’s believed that some conditions like migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome are due to your body not being able to produce enough endocannabinoids. Although the science is still out, it is believed these conditions develop because there is a disturbance in the ECS. Conditions like these tend to happen when you're older and not from birth.

6. Cannabis isn’t the only way to stimulate your ECS

There is so much hype about cannabis and how it works with your body naturally, but did you know there are other ways to stimulate your ECS without cannabis? Certain foods, herbs, teas, and even specific activities all help stimulate your cannabis. A few of my favorites – dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) green tea, exercise, and the one that gets me the most – but not my favorite – decrease stress. Isn't that hard for everyone?

7. Why cannabis works so well with ECS?

Cannabis works well with the ECS because phytocannabinoids are almost the same molecular structure as endocannabinoids. We are still learning so much about each cannabinoid’s interaction with our ECS, but so far, research has shown that cannabis is safe, cannabis is natural, and works very well with our body when used correctly.


The endocannabinoid system is pretty interesting, huh? Use these 7 things to help empower you to make the best decision around cannabis and other ways to care for yourself.

Knowledge is power, do your homework, spread the truth about cannabis.

I want to hear from you!

Does understanding the ECS change your mind about cannabis and its potential?

Send me an email with your questions, comments, or stories at Dear MariJane.

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