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Endocannabinoid System and How It Works

While humans have used marijuana for thousands of years, very little is known about how it affects our bodies. Only recently have we begun to understand more about how marijuana reacts to our bodies. Part of what we must understand is the Endocannabinoid System.  It is a complex network that scientists are only now beginning to understand.


How Does the Endocannabinoid System Work?

The Endocannabinoid System is found in most mammals but you can also find in plants. In humans, receptors in the brain, organs, glands and immune cells respond to cannabis and cannabinoid compounds in our bodies and bind to these endocannabinoid receptors. We now understand some diseases can be linked with lower levels of endocannabinoids and other changes in the endocannabinoid system activity. The endocannabinoid system has also shown to play a significant role in the way our body responds to stress, mood, and it’s responsible for maintaining many of our daily bodily functions such as naturally preventing diabetes and maintaining healthy bone density among a myriad of other bodily functions including sleep. (click HERE to find out more about how cannabis effects your sleep cycle)


The Endocannabinoid System and Cannabis

When a person smokes weed, the THC and CBD (click HERE to find out more about how CBD works) chemicals overwhelms the endocannabinoid system quickly attaching to receptors throughout the brain and nervous system. This interferes with the ability of natural cannabinoids to do their job of communication between neurons, which can throw the entire system off balance. This is what creates the feeling of being “high.” However, because cannabinoid receptors are in so many parts of the brain and body, the effects of THC are wide-ranging. THC affects parts of the brain that makes a person feel hungry, drowsy, and can block out pain.


The Endocannabinoid Receptors  

Humans have two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. Receptor sites are found in many organs and areas of the body.  When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids can interact with our receptor sites like our own endocannabinoids do. It is because many of those receptor sites are located in the central nervous system that cannabis is likely to produce changes to our cognitive state. One of the receptors is called CB1, which is mainly found in the brain, and is a similar density to receptors for other neurotransmitters.

A second cannabinoid receptor, CB2, is another major factor and is found in the immune system. But even though we know about the existence of the endocannabinoid system throughout the body, we don’t really know what role it plays outside the brain, where it is involved in signalling and plasticity. In healthy people, there is typically no consequence to knocking out endocannabinoid receptors in peripheral organs.

The one exception is the gastrointestinal tract. The idea that cannabis affects the gut is not surprising. Preparations derived from cannabis plants have long been used to treat digestive conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and vomiting.  Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are present and active in the gut, though they appear to be involved in different gut functions.  Although the job of the endocannabinoid system remains mysterious in healthy tissues outside the brain and gut.



Everyone’s biological makeup is different, and the endocannabinoid receptor locations and the number of sites can differ from person to person which is why the same strain of cannabis can affect people differently. There are other factors that contribute to the potential differences in effect can also include genetics, gender, health, and age. If you’d like to know more about cannabis follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter. We also include special promotions and discounts.

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