There are two main types of cannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids are produced within the cannabis plant (Phyto being the Greek word for plant). Endocannabinoids are produced within the body (Endo being a prefix from Greek meaning ‘from within’).
Endocannabinoids are the clever little blighters that help to keep our body regulated and balanced. If you are too hot, it will cool you down. If you’re running low on fuel, blood sugar, or liquid, it will send hunger or thirst signals. If you’re stressed it will regulate your heart rate.
One of the fundamental concepts of biology is ‘Homeostasis’ – the maintenance of a constant internal environment. To achieve this, the body goes through a series of checks and balances; and this is all influenced by our endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is made up of a series of cannabinoid receptors throughout the nervous system and the immune system. A receptor is a protein molecule found on the surface of cells that receives chemical signals and, when it does so, it affects some form of cellular/tissue response. Receptors can only receive and respond to the chemical signal if it can ‘bind’, and for this to happen, it has to be a perfect match.
Cannabinoid receptors can bind to, and be activated by, the endocannabinoids (already present in our body), or external cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC. By allowing these plant compounds into your body, they can directly influence the areas that are regulated by the endocannabinoid system.