The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

Pioneering research in the 1990’s on cannabis led to the discovery of an internal biological system that regualted and controls many of our physiological processes. This was named the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is recognised as one of the largest and most important receptor systems in the human body.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a neurotransmitter system within the body made up of endogenous G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) and plays an important part in the regulation of homeostasis within the body. The ECS is found in all vertebrates (and even some invertebrates) and is thought to have an impact on many physiological symptoms such as sleep, stress, pain, appetite, memory, digestion and anxiety.

The body produces its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. It is also triggered by cannabinoids from the cannabis plant of which THC and CBD are the most well-known and most extensively researched. CB1 receptors are located in abundance in the central and peripheral nervous system as well as the gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. CB1 receptors are believed to impact pain, sleep, appetite and even memory. CB2 receptors are found mostly in the immune system (tonsils, spleen, lymph nodes) and are responsible for the anti-inflammatory nature of cannabis. There is a very low concentration of CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brainstem and therefore, in contrast to opioids, cardiorespiratory depression and death resulting from cannabinoid consumption is almost impossible.