The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)


The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an integral role in the orchestration, maintenance and balance of optimal health and healing – also known as homeostasis. Although the endocannabinoid system has been in existence for over 600 million years and can be found in all animals except insects, it was only identified as a separate system in 1988. While attempting to elicit the mode of action of psychoactive THC, research scientists discovered a sophisticated cell-signaling system triggered by the compound, naming it the “endo” cannabinoid system after the cannabis plant that inspired its discovery. A strong endocannabinoid system likely supports a variety of basic needs in the human body.


The ECS may be activated by endocannabinoids produced naturally in your body, or by phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids) that mimic those produced in your body. These cannabinoids fit like a lock and key into receptor sites (CB1 and CB2 receptors) and may release an intricate cascade of neurotransmitters that communicate vital information, to cells, tissues, organs and glands, that is critical to maintaining optimal health and homeostasis.


CB1 receptors are located in the central nervous system, and they mediate many of the psychoactive effects of cannabinoids such as THC. CB2 receptors have a more restricted distribution and are found mostly in immune cells and the stem cells that produce blood cells. The expression of these receptors, meaning the overall number of receptors in the endocannabinoid system, differs from patient to patient. One patient may have more CB1 receptors than another, changing the way their bodies experience the effects of cannabinoids.

How do you optimize the ECS through plant-based, non-cannabis approaches? Click here to learn more about how a wide range of plant compounds and dietary factors work harmoniously to maximize the ECS.