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

Do you know about your endocannabinoid system, or ECS? This health system helps keep your body in balance as a sort of master regulatory system. While our understanding of the ECS is relatively new, scientists agree it is as important as other more well-known systems like the endocrine system, circulatory system, and nervous system.

Wooden alphabet beads spelling “FACTS” referencing endocannabinoid system facts.

Facts about your body’s endocannabinoid system

The ECS maintains balance (also called homeostasis) using CB1 and CB2 receptors found throughout your body and brain. Your body produces chemicals called endocannabinoids that interact with these receptors to maintain balance.

Your ECS regulates a wide range of body functions. For example, the ECS regulates appetite by interacting with CB1 receptors in areas of the brain that control hunger. It also helps modulate pain signals through CB1 receptors in the nerve cells. This regulation depends in large part on the endocannabinoids produced by your body.

Pills and capsules in a wooden bowl surrounded by beneficial herbs that interact with the ECS

How plants and medications work with your ECS

What’s interesting is that some plant compounds and medications can interact with the ECS in beneficial ways. For example, black pepper contains piperine which interacts with CB2 receptors, leading to reduced inflammation. Caffeine and nicotine interact with CB1 receptors in the brain resulting in more focus and alertness while reducing appetite. When it comes to medications, iIbuprofen and aspirin also influence endocannabinoid levels in ways that help reduce pain and inflammation. These are only a few examples you might be familiar with when it comes to how your ECS is affected by different medications and plant compounds.

Cannabis is another plant compound that can support your ECS in many different ways. Cannabis contains cannabinoids like CBD and THC that directly attach to ECS receptors, helping to bring your system back into balance when it’s not functioning properly.

The ECS is like a wooden Jenga tower, with multiple factors impacting the balance of this important system.

What happens when your ECS is out of balance?

Genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors all play a major role in how well your ECS functions. Potential sources of imbalance include chronic stress, poor diet, lack of sleep and aging. Autoimmune disorders and chronic inflammation can also overwhelm the ECS.

When your ECS falls out of balance, you might notice issues like:

  • Increased pain or inflammation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Anxiety or sadness
  • Problems with memory or concentration
Hemp field with sunlight in background. Hemp CBD contains endocannabinoids that support the ECS.

How CBD and THC support your ECS

Fortunately, you can take simple steps to help bring your ECS back into balance. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and reducing stress through exercise, mindfulness, or other stress-reducing activities may benefit your ECS.

Cannabis can also help restore balance to a struggling ECS. How does this work? The cannabis plant produces chemicals called cannabinoids that are a lot like the natural chemicals your ECS makes. The two most well-known cannabinoids are CBD and THC, though cannabis plants may contain over 100 different cannabinoids, many in trace amounts. When you use cannabis or hemp products, the CBD, THC and other cannabinoids interact with your ECS to support a return to homeostasis.

CBD and THC work by connecting directly with your ECS receptors:

  • THC attaches mostly to CB1 receptors in your brain and nerves. This can help with pain, nausea, appetite issues and more.
  • CBD interacts more with CB2 receptors throughout your body. This helps reduce inflammation and improves immune system functioning.
Everyone’s ECS is different in this diverse group of women doing yoga in the park, with an older smiling Black woman in the foreground.

Everyone’s ECS is different

Everyone’s ECS is just a little bit different, much like everyone’s metabolism is different. That’s one of many reasons that your experience using cannabis or hemp may differ from your friend’s experience, or even your sibling’s experience.

Finding the right product and the right dose can take some trial and error, which is where our Leaf411 nurses can help. We’ve provided guidance to people who are brand new to cannabis, as well as experienced users, helping them find the best cannabis dosage and product formulations for their needs. If you’re here reading this, we’re guessing you might have some questions. Let us help! Go to our homepage at and click on the “Let’s Talk” button to get started scheduling your guidance call.