The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. It consist of lipids and receptors found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells, establishing and maintaining human health. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is to maintain homeostasis, a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.
Endocannabinoids and cannabinoids are found throughout the body’s various systems, allowing communication and coordination between different cell types. When there is an injury, for example, cannabinoids can be found decreasing the release of activators and sensitizers from the injured tissue, stabilizing the nerve cell to prevent excessive firing, and calming nearby immune cells to prevent release of pro-inflammatory substances. These actions on three different cell types help minimize the pain and damage caused by the injury.
Cannabinoid receptors are embedded in cell membranes, and are believed to be larger than any other receptor system. Researchers have identified two cannabinoid receptors: CB1, predominantly present in the nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, and organs; and CB2, predominantly found in the immune system and its associated structures. Many tissues contain both CB1 and CB2 receptors, each linked to a different action. The endocannabinoids are the substances our bodies naturally make to stimulate these receptors. These receptors and cannabinoids make up most of our ECS, and is a major factor in keeping us healthy.