The deeper we dig into the Endocannabinoid System, the more we realize just how fascinating it is and that we could probably have an infinite number of posts on just this topic! But, we’re going to try to keep to the basics.
❇️ The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) was discovered in the early 1990s by scientists trying to understand how THC (the psychoactive cannabinoid) affected the body.
❇️ The ECS interacts with all 11 main physiological systems in the human body (muscular, respiratory, circulatory, etc.)
❇️ Among other things, the ECS helps regulate immune function, appetite, mood, memory, inflammation, sleep, and stress response.
❇️ Researchers believe that the main function of the endocannabinoid system is to “maintain bodily homeostasis — biological harmony in response to changes in the environment”.
❇️ The ECS has three main components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes.
This week, we’re going to take a look at endocannabinoids!
** Chemical compounds released by the ECS that are made from fat like molecules within cell membranes.
** Unlike other molecules, endocannabinoids are made and used on demand, not stored for later use.
** Present in your body even if you don’t use cannabis.
** Endocannabinoids help keep internal functions running smoothly.
** So far researchers have identified two key endocannabinoids – Anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG):
** Anandamide is known as the “bliss molecule”. This neurotransmitter (produced in the brain) binds to the THC receptors and can act as a mood enhancer. “Anandamide” originates from the Sanskrit word “Ananda,” which roughly translates to “bliss” or “joy”.
** Anandamide is also synthesized in areas of the brain that are important in memory, motivation, higher thought processes, and movement control. It also plays a role in appetite, pain, and fertility.
~Fun Fact: Chocolate contains a substance related to caffeine called theobromine. It is thought that theobromine causes the brain to produce more Anandamide. So, it’s pretty much scientifically proven that chocolate does, in fact, make you happy! ????
** 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG) is believed to be a messenger molecule that regulates the transmission of signals across synapses in the brain and is present at high levels in the central nervous system.
** 2-AG stimulates the same receptors as THC.
** 2-AG is the most abundant cannabinoid found in breast milk. It is believed that that 2-AG is crucial to the survival of newborns as it stimulates the tongue muscles and suckling response.
It’s almost like endocannabinoids are the body’s “Hype Men”. They go around making sure everything is operating at maximum performance and everybody’s happy! Feeling depressed or anxious? 2-AG is like your bestie who rounds up all your friends (Anandamide) and they all show up to not only cry it out and share that half-gallon of ice cream with you, but they also encourage you to get up, fix your face, and take on the world! ????????????
Next week we’ll talk about the endocannabinoid receptors and enzymes.
** contents of this post do not constitute medical advice**