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The Endocannabinoid System


The Endocannabinoid System refers to a collection of cell receptors and corresponding molecules that aid the body in managing anxiety, inflammation and other physiological responses to stress. You can think of cell receptors like little locks on the surface of your cells. The keys to these locks are chemical molecules called agonists. Each time an agonist binds to a cell it relays a message, giving your cell specific direction. The Endocannabinoid System is the name for a series of cell receptors that respond to certain kinds of agonists. Two primary cell receptors make up the system, Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2).The keys for these receptors are called endocannabinoids. The body produces endocannabinoids when experiencing stress, strenuous exercise or other similar stimuli. Endocannabinoids got their name from cannabis. Plant cannabinoids were discovered first. Endo means within, and cannabinoid referring to a compound that fits into cannabinoid receptors.


Cannabinoid receptors detect the presence of endocannabinoids and also molecules from outside sources that chemically resemble endocannabinoids. There are two main endocannabinoid molecules, named anandamide and 2-Ag. Interestingly enough, scientists wouldn’t have discovered anandamide without THC. Psychoactive THC was first discovered by Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam in the 1960s. His finding spurred a rush to figure out how it worked and whether or not our bodies produced a similar compound. More than two decades after the search began, anandamide was found. Anandamide comes from the Sanskrit word Ananda, which means bliss. So, in essence, anandamide means bliss molecule. It activates both types of cannabinoid receptors, cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2).


A perfect example of the Endocannabinoid System at work is the famed “runner’s high”. Following a long period of strenuous exercise, the body begins to produce anandamide which activates cannabinoid receptors and turns on the Endocannabinoid System. A “runner’s high” has two components - euphoria, and soothing sensation for discomfort in the joints and muscles. These two effects are connected with the two distinct structures - CB1 and CB2 receptors. Cannabinoid receptors are found all throughout the body, giving them a wide variety of functions. However, certain receptors are more concentrated in specific regions. CB1 receptors are abundant in the brain and central nervous system and are connected to pleasure and reward pathways. Their activation induces feelings of euphoria. CB2 receptors are more often found on immune cells, in the gastrointestinal tract, and in the peripheral nervous system. Their activation affects the regulation of inflammation chemicals called cytokines.


The diversity of receptor locations shows just how important endocannabinoids are for day-to-day bodily function. They help regulate the following:


Endocannabinoids are the chemical messengers that tell your body to get these processes moving and when to stop. They help maintain balance in the body, also known as homeostasis. When the Endocannabinoid System is disrupted, any one of these things can become imbalanced and can contribute to a wide variety of conditions, including fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.

The Endocannabinoid System theory of disease is called “Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency“.  The idea is simple: when the body does not produce enough endocannabinoids or cannot regulate them properly, you are more susceptible to illnesses that affect one or several of the functions listed above.

Cannabinoid receptors are often what we associate with the Endocannabinoid System. But the Endocannabinoid System is more complicated than that. Enzymes also play a crucial role in the process. Enzymes consume various compounds, change them, and then spit out the parts. In the Endocannabinoid System, enzymes break down leftover endocannabinoids.

THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, binds with both types of cannabinoids directly and is widely considered a potent drug. CBD functions in the Endocannabinoid System differently. Instead, CBD works like magic on an enzyme called FAAH. This enzyme is responsible for pulling excess anandamide out of circulation. CBD stops the enzyme FAAH from breaking down all of the anandamide, therefore making more of it available for use by your cells. This is important because anandamide interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors. Greater levels of anandamide in the body result in an increased sensation of euphoria as well as soothing of the tissues.  CBD is generally considered a natural mood-lifter without psychoactive effects.


Soothing the tissues without triggering any kind of psychoactive response can be accomplished by using a compound with selective interaction with CB2 receptors. Beta-caryophyllene (BCP) is a sesquiterpene compound found in many different plant species. Recently it has been recognized for its unique ability to interact with CB2 but not CB1 receptors. Therefore, using a product containing BCP, the benefits of CBD or THC can be obtained without the psychoactive effects. The systemic soothing properties of beta-caryophyllene have potential benefit as treatment for a wide range of health issues.


There are myriad ways to modulate the body's Endocannabinoid System. Each year, new studies shed light into what this amazing network does inside our bodies. Health care professionals may recommend different products containing different kinds of cannabinoid compounds for different health issues. We believe that BCP-containing products are the most effective for healthy individuals seeking a product that they can use for self-care that will cause no psychoactive responses and no ill side-effects. Because it is not derived from cannabis, it is perfect for those who want the health benefits of cannabinoids but without THC. 



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