What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
The ECS is a biochemical communication system that exists in all mammals. The ECS was discovered in 1992 when it was observed that our bodies create its own form of cannabinoid called Anandamide, otherwise known as the “Bliss Molecule”. A second molecule, known as 2-AG, was discovered 3 years later. These two molecules are part of a system in our body that is responsible for maintaining internal balance --the homeostasis of our physical bodies and mental state.
This discovery led scientists to this unknown molecular signaling system which communicates with all the cells in our body to regulate their existence and function. It is believed that this system has evolved over 600 million years in all mammals.
These molecules communicate with known cannabinoid receptors in our body, CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptors are concentrated in the brain and not surprisingly they are located in the regions responsible for mental and physiological processes; i.e. hippocampus, cerebral cortex, cerebellum, basal ganglia, hypothalamus, amygdala and elsewhere.
The CB1 receptor mainly has to do with cognitive functions whereas the CB2 receptors are prevalent throughout the immune and peripherial nervous system and are also present in the gut, spleen, liver, heart, kidneys, bones, blood vessels, lymph cells, endocrine glands and reproductive organs. The CB2 receptors are responsible for the physical well-being of the body and works with the immune system to fight off disease, regulate pain, inflammation and many other bodily functions.