The Endocannabinoid System
There is an independent, endogenous (naturally occurring) system of cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body in our central and peripheral nervous systems called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). It was discovered in the 1990s by an Israeli scientist named Raphael Mechaulam. The ECS is a regulatory system that promotes homeostasis (body balance) and influences multiple processes in your body. It is referred to as the endocannabinoid system because it is an endogenous system whose components interact with or resemble a compound derived from the cannabis plant called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
The ECS in the human body is comprised of three main components: endocannabinoids, receptors and regulatory enzymes. Two most well-known receptors are cannabinoid rector-1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor-2 (CB2).
CB1 receptors are located primarily in the brain and regulate the release of chemicals called neurotransmitters. They are also found in fat tissue, liver, pancreatic, skeletal and immune cells. They help with numerous processes in your body, including heart function, energy balance, and reproduction. The activation of CBI receptors also affects perception and memory, reward sensation and emotional behavior, sensory perception, motor control, pain regulation, and other functions. CB2 receptors are found primarily in the immune system and signaling results in the decrease of inflammatory processes.