With all the genetic mutations, complex cell signals, and outside influences, how do we manage to stay at homeostasis? The answer is the endocannabinoid system. The ECS is one of the most important systems in our body. Its role in the homeostatic function is undeniable. Its contribution is more than maintaining homeostasis; it also has a profound ability in regulation. The ECS is a unique communications system in the brain and body that affects many important functions, including how a person feels, moves, and reacts.
The ECS involves endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids bind to receptors in order to signal that the ECS needs to engage. The two main endocannabinoid receptors are the CB1 receptors, mostly found in the central nervous system, and CB2 receptors, mostly found in your peripheral nervous system, especially immune cells.
Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor. The effects that result depend on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid binds to it. THC is powerful because it can bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBD helps in preventing endocannabinoids from being broken down. This system actively exists in your body even if you don’t use cannabis.
This system would allow us to change our focus from invasive pharmaceutical trials (i.e., SSRIs for depression, benzodiazepines for anxiety, chemotherapies for cancer) to uncovering the mystery of why the body fails to maintain homeostasis. Perhaps understanding the roles of ECS could be a new direction for medicine, which may eliminate the use of some of the less tolerable therapeutics.
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