Endocannabinoid System Explained [with Infographic]
April 2, 2020
- Bone Growth
- Muscle Formation
The endocannabinoid system is not generated from the use of cannabis; it is an active biological system that exists within all of our bodies.
While there is much more research to understand the potential functions of the endocannabinoid system, one thing is for certain: Cannabis interacts with the endocannabinoid system, a system that is known for having therapeutic benefits in several pathological conditions. 
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a natural cell-signaling system in our bodies made up of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes that assist in the regulation of biological functions. Basically, the endocannabinoid system is activated when something in the body is not operating in the correct range.
What does “endocannabinoid” mean?
The term “cannabinoid” was first coined with the cannabis plant and is one of over 100+ naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis.
“Endo” is short for “Endogenous”, which means that it originates from within an organism.
The literal meaning of the word “endocannabinoid” is having cannabis-like compounds within the body.
So, the same type of chemicals in cannabis are found inside our bodies?
When extensive government-funded studies were conducted on the effects of THC in the early 90s, they discovered the same compounds of cannabis in the human body. Since then, the endocannabinoid system has been discovered in other animals including mammals, birds, fish, and amphibians. 
The endocannabinoid system includes more than just the cannabinoids. It is made up of three parts:
- Endocannabinoids – The signaling molecules within the body that are the same type of compounds found in hemp.
- Receptors – Chemical structures made of protein that receive and convert signals from endocannabinoids and cannabinoids.
- Enzymes – The substances that help synthesize and break down the endocannabinoids and cannabinoids.
With a better understanding of what makes up the endocannabinoid system, let’s look at how it works.
How Does the Endocannabinoid System Work?
ECS is more than just a natural system in our bodies; it plays an essential role in the regulation of multiple functions and plays a critical role in maintaining homeostasis within living systems.
When understanding the endocannabinoid system, it is critical to first understand how homeostasis works and why it plays such an important role within the body.
What is homeostasis?
Homeostasis is the state of stable equilibrium for internal, physical, and chemical conditions controlled by the human body. In order to understand this process, it is helpful to look at examples that we may experience in everyday life.
For example, have you ever had the shivers when too cold or were sweating when you were hot?
This is a great example of the body maintaining homeostasis. The body works to keep a stable and steady temperature of around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) and while it may only change by a few degrees, it makes a large difference in keeping your internal temperature at a desirable level.
How about your stomach growling after an extended period without food? Once again, that is homeostasis in effect reminding your body to eat food for more energy.
Homeostasis is also maintained in the body with the immune system, water levels, sugar levels, blood pressure, calcium levels, and many more important systems that need constant regulation.
The endocannabinoid system works to keep homeostasis within the body and while it is critical to staying stable and healthy, it is not active 24/7. It is only activated when it is needed and called upon by the body. It also only impacts the living system that is out of homeostasis without changing other systems in the body.
For example, if your blood pressure is too high or too low, ECS will be activated, telling the heart to pump more or less blood to place the blood pressure at a healthy level without changing the immune system or body temperature levels.
Endocannabinoid Components Working Together
As mentioned, ECS is made up of the three core components- enzymes, receptors, and endocannabinoids.
Here’s how it works.
- A living system in the body falls outside of the healthy and optimal levels (out of homeostasis).
- The endocannabinoid system is activated to maintain the levels of the living system and brings it back to a stable equilibrium. It does this with the cannabinoid receptors which listen to the various systems within the body, should they fall outside a healthy level.
- After the endocannabinoids have brought the system back to a balanced state, enzymes in the ECS break them down to prevent them from going too far in the opposite direction and upsetting the balance. They act as the barrier to the endocannabinoids overcompensating to fix the issue.
This is how each component in the ECS works together to help maintain natural levels in the body.
Keep in mind that this process is a natural system in the body and is different than if someone were to take CBD oil or smoke marijuana with THC.
Here is what we know.
Cannabis products stimulate activity of the endocannabinoid system which makes them a focal point for research associated with medicinal treatments.
Since the endocannabinoid system was discovered 30 years ago, many research studies have explored the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis and the effects on the body’s natural living systems. 
Even with the advancements with recent scientific studies, there is still much more to learn about the ECS to fully understand the potential benefits when associated with the use of cannabis products.
Endocannabinoids & Cannabinoids
We already know that endocannabinoids are similar compounds to the ones found in cannabis but are instead formed inside the body. Let’s explore what we currently know about these cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids found in the Cannabis Plant
There are over 100 cannabinoids in hemp but there are two that have gained lots of attention in recent years and are on the forefront of most research studies.
- Tetrahydrocannabinoid (THC)
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
THC is commonly known as the element that gives a cannabis user a “high” while CBD is known for having therapeutic potential and no psychoactive elements.
Cannabinoids found in the Endocannabinoid System
The cannabinoids discovered by research studies so far include:
- Anandamide (AEA)
- 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG)
The biological effects of cannabinoids found in both cannabis and in our bodies are mediated by endocannabinoid receptors found in our nervous systems. 
There are two main endocannabinoid receptors that have been discovered in the human body:
- CB1 receptors – found in the central nervous system, which controls most functions of the mind and body.
- CB2 receptors – found primarily in the peripheral nervous system, which consists of the nerves and ganglia not found in the brain and spinal cord.
Endocannabinoids may bind to different receptors depending on the biological system that needs to be corrected.
Enzymes in the ECS
The two main enzymes responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids after they have completed their task include:
- Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) – responsible for breaking down the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA)
- Monoacylglycerol (MAGL) – breaks down the endocannabinoid 2-AG
How Does Cannabis Affect the Endocannabinoid System?
We already know that cannabis affects the ECS, but how exactly does it work compared to the endocannabinoids found in our bodies?
The chemical structure of the cannabinoid THC is similar to the endocannabinoid anandamide.
Just like the endocannabinoid, THC can attach to the CB1 receptor in the brain when someone uses a cannabis product. While both cannabinoids are related, anandamide does not give a high, although, the endocannabinoid does have relaxing and sedative properties.
In fact, the only reason that anandamide does not get a user high is because of the FAAH enzyme which breaks down the endocannabinoid before it can produce any psychoactive effects. While the FAAH enzyme works to break down the cannabinoids found within the body, it cannot break down THC. Therefore, THC can have a much stronger effect.
That brings us to another plant-based cannabinoid found in cannabis that has been on the forefront of many research studies, known as cannabidiol, or CBD.
Many research studies have been documented to support the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD for various conditions including:
- Anxiety [3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]
- Psychotic Symptoms 
- Inflammation 
- Sleep [14, 15, 16]
- Depression [17, 18]
- Arthritis [19, 20]
- Epilepsy [23, 24]
There are many other reported therapeutic benefits of CBD and many anecdotal claims, but it is important to report the conditions that are primarily backed by research studies.
The question remains…
Are the potential benefits of CBD related to the effects on the endocannabinoid system in our bodies?
While various modern studies point to “yes”, there is still much more research that needs to be conducted in order to fully understand the relationship between CBD and the endocannabinoid system. Even so, there are recent studies on cannabis that support the idea that CBD presents therapeutic benefits by influencing the ECS.
One such research study in June 2018 found that CBD prevented anxiogenic effects through CB1 and CB2 receptors as well as preventing the decrease in neurogenesis (generation of new neurons) through CB2 receptors found in the endocannabinoid system. 
The ECS on its own regulates many functions of our bodies that CBD has also shown to potentially provide relief for including:
Since CBD has shown benefits in multiple studies with conditions such as these, it would seem that the connection with the ECS is the focal point to how all the effects take place. It is a strong theory that will require more research to comprehend the full extent of the relationship between cannabis and the ECS.
Bottom line is this.
- CBD has been reported to have therapeutic effects for multiple conditions in modern research studies.
- CBD is a cannabinoid (like the cannabinoids naturally found in our bodies) and has a connection with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system.
Fully understanding the connection between those two facts is still a fresh idea to modern science and new studies aim to explore this relationship each year.
Choosing a CBD Product that is Natural
At 43 CD Solutions, all our hemp is grown locally with natural farming practices and is included with organic carrier oils. We believe that when choosing to try CBD as part of a potential treatment for various conditions, it is important to choose a product that is natural and high-quality while being backed by third-party testing.
As with any alternative medicine, we recommend asking your doctor if CBD is the right choice for you. If you have any additional questions about the endocannabinoid system and how cannabis works with your body, feel free to give us a call or email us with your questions.
- Chye Y, Christensen E, Solowij N, Yücel M. The Endocannabinoid System and Cannabidiol’s Promise for the Treatment of Substance Use Disorder. Front Psychiatry. 2019;10:63. Published 2019 Feb 19. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00063
- Pertwee RG. Cannabinoid pharmacology: the first 66 years. Br J Pharmacol. 2006;147 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S163–S171. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0706406
- Zuardi, A.W., Shirakawa, I., Finkelfarb, E. et al. Action of cannabidiol on the anxiety and other effects produced by δ9-THC in normal subjects. Psychopharmacology 76, 245–250 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00432554
- Guimarães, F.S., Chiaretti, T.M., Graeff, F.G. et al. Antianxiety effect of cannabidiol in the elevated plus-maze. Psychopharmacology 100, 558–559 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02244012
- Zuardi, A. W., Cosme, R. A., Graeff, F. G., & Guimarães, F. S. (1993). Effects of ipsapirone and cannabidiol on human experimental anxiety. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 7(1_suppl), 82–88.
- Crippa, J., Zuardi, A., Garrido, G. et al. Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Regional Cerebral Blood Flow. Neuropsychopharmacol 29, 417–426 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.npp.1300340
- Gomes, F.V., Resstel, L.B.M. & Guimarães, F.S. The anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol injected into the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis are mediated by 5-HT1A receptors. Psychopharmacology 213, 465–473 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-010-2036-z
- Bergamaschi, M., Queiroz, R., Chagas, M. et al. Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients. Neuropsychopharmacol 36, 1219–1226 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2011.6
- Blessing, E.M., Steenkamp, M.M., Manzanares, J. et al. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics 12, 825–836 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
- Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016;20(4):16-005. doi:10.7812/TPP/16-005
- De Gregorio D, McLaughlin RJ, Posa L, et al. Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain. Pain. 2019;160(1):136–150. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001386
- Leweke FM, Piomelli D, Pahlisch F, et al. Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. Transl Psychiatry. 2012;2(3):e94. Published 2012 Mar 20. doi:10.1038/tp.2012.15
- Nagarkatti P, Pandey R, Rieder SA, Hegde VL, Nagarkatti M. Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Med Chem. 2009;1(7):1333–1349. doi:10.4155/fmc.09.93
- Murillo-Rodríguez, E., Millán-Aldaco, D., Palomero-Rivero, M., Mechoulam, R., & Drucker-Colín, R. (2006). Cannabidiol, a constituent of Cannabis sativa, modulates sleep in rats. FEBS letters, 580(18), 4337-4345.
- Chagas, M.H.N., Eckeli, A.L., Zuardi, A.W., Pena‐Pereira, M.A., Sobreira‐Neto, M.A., Sobreira, E.T., Camilo, M.R., Bergamaschi, M.M., Schenck, C.H., Hallak, J.E.C., Tumas, V. and Crippa, J.A.S. (2014), Cannabidiol can improve complex sleep‐related behaviours associated with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder in Parkinson’s disease patients: a case series. J Clin Pharm Ther, 39: 564-566. doi:10.1111/jcpt.12179
- Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Perm J. 2019;23:18–041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041
- Shoval G, Shbiro L, Hershkovitz L, Hazut N, Zalsman G, Mechoulam R, Weller A: Prohedonic Effect of Cannabidiol in a Rat Model of Depression. Neuropsychobiology 2016;73:123-129. doi: 10.1159/000443890
- Liat Shbiro, Danielle Hen-Shoval, Noa Hazut, Kayla Rapps, Shira Dar, Gil Zalsman, Raphael Mechoulam, Aron Weller, Gal Shoval, Effects of cannabidiol in males and females in two different rat models of depression, Physiology & Behavior,Volume 201,2019, Pages 59-63,ISSN 0031-9384
- A. M. Malfait, R. Gallily, P. F. Sumariwalla, A. S. Malik, E. Andreakos, R. Mechoulam, M. Feldmann, The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Aug 2000, 97 (17) 9561-9566; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.160105897
- Hammell, D., Zhang, L., Ma, F., Abshire, S., McIlwrath, S., Stinchcomb, A. and Westlund, K. (2016), Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain‐related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Eur J Pain, 20: 936-948. doi:10.1002/ejp.818
- Zou S, Kumar U. Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(3):833. Published 2018 Mar 13. doi:10.3390/ijms19030833
- Manoela V. Fogaça, Alline C. Campos, Ludmila D. Coelho, Ronald S. Duman, Francisco S. Guimarães, The anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol in chronically stressed mice are mediated by the endocannabinoid system: Role of neurogenesis and dendritic remodeling, Neuropharmacology, Volume 135, 2018, Pages 22-33, ISSN 0028-3908
- Michal Tzadok, Shimrit Uliel-Siboni, Ilan Linder, Uri Kramer, Orna Epstein, Shay Menascu, Andrea Nissenkorn, Omer Bar Yosef, Eli Hyman, Dorit Granot, Michael Dor, Tali Lerman-Sagie, Bruria Ben-Zeev, CBD-enriched medical cannabis for intractable pediatric epilepsy: The current Israeli experience, Seizure, Volume 35, 2016, Pages 41-44, ISSN 1059-1311
- Pamplona Fabricio A., da Silva Lorenzo Rolim, Coan Ana Carolina, Potential Clinical Benefits of CBD-Rich Cannabis Extracts Over Purified CBD in Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy: Observational Data Meta-analysis, Frontiers in Neurology, Volume 9, 2018, Pages 759, ISSN 1664-2295
CBD & Coronavirus: Know the Facts vs. Fiction May 16, 2020No, CBD is not a miracle chemical compound that can fight the COVID-19 virus, nor has it been associated with any human or animal studies of the coronavirus. Although, it may be potentially beneficial for...
CBD Studies for Anxiety | Research & Science for CBD February 29th, 2020There are many claims about CBD being able to support various conditions and often, it can be difficult to find articles that are backed by science and research. This article aims to explore a...
Hemp Seed Oil Benefits for Healthy Living January 29th, 2020Hemp Seed oil is derived from seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant and is different from the marijuana form as it contains less than 0.3% THC. Hemp seed oil can also be...
What are the Best Carrier Oils for CBD? January 3rd, 2020Best (and Worst) Carrier Oils for CBD A carrier oil, also referred to as a base oil, is a plant-derived oil used to dilute a high concentration of CBD. It is necessary for a user to consume a consistent dose of...
CBD without the High for an Athlete - Testimonial December 6th, 2019 Author: Marisa Asplund, MA, LPC As a former professional endurance athlete with twelve plus years in the elite road cycling and triathlon arena, I've experienced over and over products that have been...
CBD, the Placebo Effect, & "Boomer Generation" Aches - Testimonial December 2nd, 2019I am of the “boomer generation” and I have been an important team member throughout my entire life on all my sport teams’ competition and training. Also, because I am female, even...
Is there Palm Oil in your CBD Tincture? November 30th, 2019Does your CBD Tincture contain Palm Oil? Palm oil accounts for one-third of the global consumption of vegetable oil. While it is a useful and efficient oil, it is also known to contribute to large-scale...
My CBD Journey: Psoriasis, Arthritis, and Anxiety November 4th, 2019 Author: Nolan Stevens It was less than a year ago that I quit my San Francisco tech job, to the great surprise of my boss. Why was he surprised? Because the cause of my exit was something I’d never...
Our Promise of High-Quality Hemp Oil & All-Natural Farming Practices October 21st, 201943 CBD Solutions is much more than a brand. It is a group of like-minded people that work together to help others heal and feel good with the highest quality hemp oil. We have...
CBD Information, History, & Products -Interview with 43 CBD Solutions September 19th, 2019Co-owner Dontje Hildebrand talks about transparency, products, and history of 43 CBD Solutions. (Interviewer) I’m here with Dontje from 43 CBD Solutions and going to ask a...
CBD Dosage Guide: How Much CBD Should You Take? August 29th, 2019While you may have heard about people taking CBD for chronic conditions like anxiety and pain, it is often difficult to understand how much CBD you should take as part of your daily health regimen. ...
Athlete Recovery: How CBD Oil and CBD Salve are Changing the Game July 20th, 2019If you are an athlete (or even the casual active individual), you already know how important health supplements and vitamins are for maintaining optimal health and wellness. It’s no...
How much CBD is in Hemp Oil? The Ultimate CBD Purchasing Guide June 27, 2019It seems like there are hemp oil and CBD oil products everywhere - and with so many different formulas and brands in the marketplace, it can be difficult to get a clear understanding of how...
CBD Isolate vs. Full-Spectrum CBD and the “Entourage Effect” April 22, 2019When first deciding to use CBD as a holistic health approach, it can be a challenge to understand which CBD products to choose. With a growing number of consumers turning towards this more...
CBD for Dogs: Here’s What You Need to Know March 20, 2019With keeping your furry friend healthy and feeling well, it is important to consider natural treatments. CBD has been an increasingly popular method for dog owners to treat certain conditions. According to the...
CBD Oil for Arthritis Pain: What You Should Know February 7, 2019Could CBD Oil play a role in providing arthritis pain relief? In this article, we will explore whether CBD oil could provide an effective treatment for arthritis by examining the benefits and side...
CBD for Depression | What You Should Know July 5, 2018 According to the American Psychiatric Association, a staggering one in six people will suffer from depression at some point in their life. With about 1 in 15 American adults being diagnosed with depression every...
How People are Using CBD for Arthritis & Joint Pain July 2, 2018 Arthritis is a broad term that covers over 100 diseases causing pain in the joints of adults. About one in every five adults has some form of Arthritis, and the likelihood of getting some form of the...
What You Should Know If You’re New To CBD Tincture June 29, 2018 Are you new to CBD and curious about 43CBD Solutions’ tinctures? Here are some answers to the most common questions asked by people buying CBD tinctures from us for the first time. First Of All,...
CBD Topical Salve: What Is It & How Does It Alleviate Pain? June 27, 2018For patients that are interested in the potential health benefits * of cannabis-based products but prefer to avoid any psychoactive effects, CBD-focused products are revolutionizing the...
What is the Difference Between CBD and THC? February 26, 2018The hemp/Cannabis plant is quickly becoming known as one of the most versatile, medically beneficial * plants that Mother Nature has to offer. The difference between hemp and marijuana is the content of THC....
“Best bang for your buck on the market that I am aware of. 43 Solutions CBD has helped me sleep well, be more calm and collected, helped with various aches and pains, and tastes great too. Give it a try before reaching for prescription anti-anxiety or sleep meds.”