In school, we are taught – well, some of us are taught – that there are 11 major organ systems in the human body. They include the circulatory, respiratory, urinary, reproductive, integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, lymphatic, and digestive systems.
But did you know you also have an endocannabinoid system (ECS)? Unless you are a research scientist or work with medical cannabis, I’m guessing probably not. And yet, the ECS has been called “the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health.”
So, what Is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
Unlike many of the other systems in the human body, you can’t point to one area or layer of the body and say “that’s the Endocannabinoid system.” It’s made up of receptors that are found throughout your body. The two primary receptors that we know about are CB1 and CB2, but we’re still learning more about this system.
What exactly does the endocannabinoid system do?
Tyler Strauss, an activist for the benefits of cannabis and cannabinoids, wrote a great article on this subject titled “7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Endocannabinoid System.”
He writes, “ECS helps fine-tune most of our vital physiological functions. It promotes homeostasis affecting everything from sleep, appetite, pain, inflammation, memory, mood, and even reproduction. So, in basic terms, the ECS helps modulate the regulation of homeostasis across all major body systems ensuring that all systems work in concert with one another.”
Why is homeostasis this important?
Scientific American says, “Homeostasis, from the Greek words for “same” and “steady,” refers to any process that living things use to actively maintain fairly stable conditions necessary for survival.
“The term was coined in 1930 by the physician Walter Cannon. His book, The Wisdom of the Body, describes how the human body maintains steady levels of temperature and other vital conditions such as the water, salt, sugar, protein, fat, calcium and oxygen contents of the blood. Similar processes dynamically maintain steady-state conditions in the Earth’s environment.”
Which metabolic processes does the ECS help regulate?
Dr. Sunil Aggarwal pointed out during the Cannabis Health Summit that ECS plays a role in processes such as:
- Mood regulation
- Pain perception
- Muscle tone and movement
- Extinction of traumatic memory
- Protection of nerves and rain tissue
- Bone growth
- Tumor regulation
- Baby breast-feeding reward
- Stress management
- Eye pressure
- Gastrointestinal motility
- Seizure activity
But there’s one place in your body where you don’t have CB receptors – your brain stem – which is why it’s impossible to have a lethal overdose on cannabis.
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- Read: “7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Endocannabinoid System.”
- Read: “What is Homeostasis?”
- Read: “On the definition of cannabinoids: botanical? chemical? pharmacological?”
- Download a report: “Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD): Can this Concept Explain Therapeutic Benefits of Cannabis in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other Treatment-Resistant Conditions?”
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Disclaimer: The activities and research discussed in these podcasts are suggestions only and are only advised to be undertaken following prior consultation with a health or medical professional. Fitness training, nutrition, and other physical pursuits should be tailored to the individual based upon an assessment of their personal needs.