Welcome back to our exploration of the endocannabinoid system. In the first installment, we gained a simple understanding of what the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is, how it works, and why it matters. In this next installment, we’ll look at some of the many ways the ECS helps our body remain stable by maintaining homeostasis, and how it affects us physically and emotionally. In case you missed it, part 1 can be found here.
A Recap on Part 1 of The Endocannabinoid System
You may recall that the ECS has three distinct parts that work together: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. ECS receptors can be found throughout the body: most abundantly in the central nervous system (this includes the brain and nerves in the spinal column), but also in the peripheral nervous system (which includes nerves located in your extremities), as well as in the digestive system, and in specialized cells within the immune system.
The ECS uses specific receptors throughout the body to regulate key functions, some of which include:
- Immune function
- Motor function
- Sleep patterns and sleep quality
- Regulation of temperature
- Pain sensation
- Exercise-induced euphoria (pleasure/rewards)
What Happens When the Endocannabinoid System Fails?
When the endocannabinoid system isn’t functioning properly, it can put your body out of whack and result in quite a bit of pain and discomfort. Scientists are currently studying several conditions that appear to be related to dysfunction within the ECS.
Because conditions such as these all share clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) and rely on the correct function of multiple systems, they are typically resistant to most forms of treatment.