Human Anatomy

Human Anatomy

The Endocannabinoid System

Just like cannabis plants, humans also have cannabinoids present in our bodies.
The endocannabinoid system is affected by the cannabinoids in cannabis.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a naturally occurring system in the human body that plays important roles in regulating the central nervous system and a variety of physiological processes such as mood, memory and appetite. The recent identification of cannabinoid receptors in our bodies has triggered an explosion of studies exploring the ECS and its regulatory functions in health and disease. The ECS is always working to achieve homeostasis, or balance, within the body.

The Three Key Components of the ECS Include:

Cannabinoid Receptors

Sit on the surface of our cells and transmit information about changing conditions within the body. This communication kick-starts the appropriate cellular response.


Small molecules that activate cannabinoid receptors. They are made from fat-like molecules within cell membranes and are synthesized on-demand. The two major endocannabinoids in the ECS include Anandamide and 2-AG.

Metabolic Enzymes

Synthesize and degrade endocannabinoids after they are used.

Two Primary Cannabinoid Receptors in the ECS Include:

CB1 Receptors

CB1 receptors are typically found in the brain and throughout the nervous system. Cannabinoids that target these receptors can produce effects on coordination, pain tolerance and metabolism. These are the receptors that interact with THC to produce psychoactive effects.

CB2 Receptors

CB2 receptors are distributed throughout the peripheral organs in the body, serving as facilitators of the immune system, muscular system, and cardiovascular system.

How It Works

Both endogenous (created within) and exogenous (external) cannabinoids bind with receptors in the endocannabinoid system. When a cannabinoid like CBD bonds with the CB1 or CB2 receptors in the body, it has been shown to alter and improve the capabilities of that receptor, thereby improving the functionality of that receptor. This interaction not only helps to maintain the body’s vital health functions, but is key in restoring the homeostasis, or balance, within the body. This is the source of CBD’s many health benefits.