With the discovery of cannabinoids, researchers have wondered how molecules such as THC and CBD exert such effects on the human body. This is how they later discovered the endocannabinoid system (ECS): a vast network of cellular receptors. The discovery of the ECS made it possible to identify how cannabinoids functioned, but also highlighted a sophisticated physiological system helping to maintain homeostasis (the process of regulation by which the organism maintains the various constants of the internal environment between the limits of the normal values) of the body.
The SEC is made up of three key elements:
• Endocannabinoids: which act in the body as signaling molecules by binding to ECS receptors.
• Cannabinoid receptors: The ECS has two main receptors, CB1 and CB2. Research to date has identified CB1 receptors in the brain, spinal cord, fat cells, liver, pancreas, skeletal muscle, gastrointestinal tract, and reproductive system. CB2 receptors appear mainly in immune cells, but also in lower concentrations in the gastrointestinal tract, liver, fat cells, bones and the reproductive system.
• Enzymes: proteins acting to activate chemical reactions.
The ECS acts as a homeostatic regulator. In other words, it helps ensure that other processes run smoothly. Research on the ECS continues because it is essential for human physiology. We can hope that great discoveries are yet to come.