Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN, Founder and CEO of Leaf411

If you haven’t come across the term “endocannabinoid system” or ECS before, you’re not alone. Many of us didn’t learn about it in school. But it’s a vital part of our body, and it’s especially significant when considering using cannabis and hemp to support wellness or provide relief.

How the ECS was discovered

The ECS was discovered quite recently. In 1988, scientists found special receptors in rats’ brains that responded to THC, a component in cannabis. From there, we learned more:

  • The ECS isn’t just in rats. It is found in all animals with spinal cords, including humans.
  • The main role of the ECS? Maintaining balance in our bodies.
  • The ECS is crucial for aspects like mood, sleep, metabolism, and immunity.
Infographic showing details of where CB1 and CB2 receptors are located throughout the body.

Learning about your CB1 and CB2 Receptors

The human body’s ECS has two main receptors, CB1 and CB2.

  • CB1 receptors are primarily in our brain and spine. They’re linked with memory, behavior, appetite, movement, and pain sensation.
  • CB2 receptors are spread throughout the body and play a role in managing inflammation and immune response.

Our body produces molecules called endocannabinoids that bind to these receptors. This binding signals the ECS to act, maintaining our internal balance. Sometimes, though, the ECS might need support, and that’s where cannabis and CBD hemp might come in.

Gloved hands gently handling a cannabis seedling, also called a cannabis clone.

The role of cannabis in supporting the ECS

If you’re interested in a deeper dive, Dr. Dustin Sulak has created an easy-to-understand video about how cannabis interacts with the ECS.

Think of the relationship between cannabis and the ECS like this: Our body has its natural ways to manage pain. Sometimes, however, we might take additional medicine for relief. In the same way, our body creates endocannabinoids, but there are occasions where it benefits from the cannabinoids in cannabis, due to their similarity.

Modern young Black woman on phone with Leaf411, getting answers to her questions about cannabis and taking notes on paper.

Leaf411 can help answer your questions about cannabis and your endocannabinoid system

If this information feels a bit complex, don’t worry. Our Leaf411 nurses have in-depth knowledge of the ECS and can help guide you on the potential benefits of CBD hemp or cannabis based on your health objectives. Please reach out to us by clicking on the “Let’s Talk” button on our homepage to get started.