Do you ever wonder what is truly going on inside your body? The human body has a conglomeration of systems and reactions constantly working in order to keep us alive and healthy (YAY). However, these systems are often hard to understand and take a lot of background knowledge. So lets just start with one, the Endocannabinoid System.This system not only receives signals made by the body, but it is also compatible with signals we introduce from the outside. In understanding this system, you have the tools to truly understand how CBD works, and how it might be right for you.
what is cell signaling?
To understand the ECS, you first have to understand how your body “communicates”.
Your body is composed of a variety of tiny molecules and proteins that function together to transmit information. Cells in certain locations send this information to each other through specific molecules, such as neurotransmitters or hormones. These neurotransmitters, such as serotonin or dopamine, bind to receptors embedded within the membrane of cells. What is so key about this receptor/signaling molecule relationship is that not just any signaling molecule can bind to any receptor; each receptor has a specific binding affinity for a certain hormone or other neurotransmitter that, when bound, can cause a cascade of events within the cell. This can ultimately lead to some final event, such as a change in gene expression or production of a certain enzyme.
the endocannabinoid system (the nerdy stuff)
A specific example of such a signaling system within our bodies is known as the endocannabinoid system. This involves unique signaling molecules that can only bind to its receptors. One of the most important signaling molecules within the system, anandamide (named after the Sanskrit word “ananda”, which means “bliss”),  was discovered in 1992.  This molecule is known as a cannabinoid, specifically an endogenous cannabinoid, and our bodies naturally make it. As its name suggests, anandamide can create feelings of happiness, but also has functions in memory, motivation, pain, and other experiences transmitted within the brain.  Another well known endocannabinoid, 2-AG, is involved as a mediator for inflammatory reactions.  Endocannabinoids are lipophilic and made on demand instead of being stored.
These cannabinoids bind to special receptors known as CB1 and CB2. CB1 is abundant in the brain and the central nervous system. CB2 is more often identified within the immune system. The binding of anandamide, 2-AG, and other endocannabinoids to CB1 and CB2 cause short term effects in our bodies. Endocannabinoids in the CB1 system travel in an opposite direction to most neurotransmitters in that they flow from the postsynaptic cell to the presynaptic cell. This means that instead of a cell releasing a neurotransmitter into the synaptic space which then binds with another cell to cause a response, endocannabinoids go in the reverse direction. This allows them to have an effect on the presynaptic cell and the release of those primary neurotransmitters,  which controls excitation (stimulation) or inhibition (relaxation) of neurons, and thusly, of the body. The CB2 system, on the other hand,controls anti-inflammatory effects in target cells.  CB1 and CB2 play key roles in relaxation of the body as well as reaction to stressors.
the ecs and phytocannabinoids
Endocannabinoids made in the body are not the only cannabinoids that exist. Another well known class of cannabinoids are phytocannabinoids. These are cannabinoids found in plants, especially hemp. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, and CBD, otherwise known as cannabidiol, are two examples of phytocannabinoids derived from cannabis plants. THC is what gives that “high”feeling. THC binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our bodies, thus triggering its psychoactive effects directly.
cbd and ecs
CBD is different. CBD affects the endocannabinoid system indirectly in a multitude of ways.
It can act as an allosteric inhibitor, which means it binds to some other site of the CB1 receptor protein and changes its shape so that THC cannot bind to it. In this way, CBD is useful for lessening the psychoactive effects of THC because not every THC molecule present is able to find a “landing spot”to bind to on a cell.
CBD can increase the abundance of anandamide within the body. This is because CBD inhibits the enzyme FAAH, which breaks down anandamide. This inhibition thusly increases the amount of anandamide available to bind to the receptors.
CBD binds to TRPV1 receptors, which results in a reduction of inflammation and pain. 
In this way, the discovery of the endocannabinoid system and the role of cannabinoids is a crucial component in understanding how outside sources of cannabinoids are able to have an effect on the body. Due to the direct reaction and role of THC and CBD within the endocannabinoid system, we are now presented with the possibility of taking CBD specifically to target ailments of the body or to proactively ensure the body will be able to performin the future.
RESEARCHED AND AUTHORED BY:
ANGIE T. BIOCHEM MAJOR @ UCLA IN LOS ANGELES, CA
Any blog content is based on our research and opinions and does not claim professional accuracy. The information and products contained on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. You are advised to consult with your health care provider prior to use.