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What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

When you start learning the ins and outs of CBD, you quickly run across something called the endocannabinoid system. This crucial system is the reason CBD interacts so profoundly with our bodies.

It’s hard to believe the endocannabinoid system was only discovered a short while ago. Still, from what we know so far, it’s the relationship between cannabinoids, receptors, and the endocannabinoid system that provides the CBD experience you count on each time. 

There’s a lot of information to cover, so let’s get started.

Discovering the Endocannabinoid System 

In 1988, the first endocannabinoid receptor was discovered in a rat. This discovery allowed researchers to find the same receptor in humans –– actually two receptors: the CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors notably influenced different processes within our bodies, such as mood, sleep, memory, cognitive function, and pain, to name a few. 

Scientists were amazed, because the endocannabinoid system naturally interacts with the cannabinoid compounds that the cannabis plant supplies. Over the years, with more research, we’ve learned even more about this unique system.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the functions of this system.

A Closer Look at the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is responsible for much more than you realize. It controls essential functions of the human body, including (but not limited to) pain, sleep, mood, energy, metabolism, and inflammation. 

Let’s break down the word, endocannabinoid. The prefix “endo,” means within, and “cannabinoid” refers to the body’s internal nervous system and how it interacts with the substance known as cannabis. But it’s also important to note the primary goal of this system is to maintain homeostasis or balance within all of the systems. 

When you take CBD, your body soaks up the cannabinoid content of the product. Another interesting fact is the human body creates endocannabinoids on its own. Naturally, some people have higher levels of naturally occurring endocannabinoids, and some lower. 

Those with lower levels of endocannabinoids have to work a little harder to properly experience CBD — taking it every day to build up cannabinoids and sometimes taking it with a high-fat meal to enhance absorption and effectiveness. 

Regardless of your “levels,” it’s helpful to know and understand that all mammals have an endocannabinoid system. This system works through the central and peripheral nervous systems, in collaboration with a few other necessary elements — cannabinoid receptors and enzymes. 

Let’s look at the role of each component to understand how the endocannabinoid system works.

Endocannabinoids 

There are many different types of messengers in the human body, sending and receiving signals. Endocannabinoids are lipid-based neurotransmitters that function as the messengers of the endocannabinoid system. 

The two main endocannabinoids are Anandamide and 2-ArachidonoylGlycerol (2-AG). These compounds are lipid or fat-based, so this is why you need fatty components like MCT oil or olive oil to serve as the vehicle for absorption. 

Researchers and experts believe there are other endocannabinoids in the body, but more research is needed to uncover other notable compounds. 

Cannabinoid Receptors 

It’s pretty cool how all of these different compounds work together to fuel the endocannabinoid system. We’ve already discussed how the endocannabinoids are the messengers, but who or what do they carry the message to? 

They communicate with the cannabinoid receptors: specifically, the CB1 and CB2 receptors. When the endocannabinoids arrive with a “message,” they bind to these cannabinoid receptors. 

Each of these receptors controls different regions of the body. The CB1 receptor influences the central nervous system for the most part, and the CB2 receptors are intertwined with the peripheral nervous system. 

Enzymes 

Now, you’re probably wondering what happens to the endocannabinoids once they deliver the intended message? This is where the enzymes enter the party. Enzymes are responsible for creating endocannabinoids and breaking them down after they’ve done their job. 

The Entourage Effect

The endocannabinoid system plays a critical role in a phenomenon known as the Entourage Effect. The Entourage Effect occurs when multiple cannabinoids, such as CBD and CBN or CBG, are consumed together and not only work in parallel, but even enhance and bolster one another. 

You can experience the Entourage Effect with products, like our CBD + CBG Morning Capsules, which bring together two powerful cannabinoids, plus supporting terpenes. Without the endocannabinoid system, the cannabinoid content of your product wouldn’t be able to travel and deliver the necessary message to receptors. 

Main Takeaway 

Now, you understand how CBD moves and functions in your body. Furthermore, you know that some people have lower levels of naturally occurring endocannabinoids. So, if you’re not feeling your CBD the way you think it should be, then make sure you pair your daily serving with a fatty meal like salmon, tuna, or avocado. 

So, there we have it, folks. This is the secret weapon behind your CBD experience. We know some CBD topics are hard to understand — full of clunky, scientific words — but hopefully, we broke this information down and made it easier to grasp!


Try our CBD Soft Gel Capsules, formulated with MCT oil for greater absorption and effectiveness!