The Endocannabinoid System
Endogenous cannabinoids (a.k.a. endocannabinoids) are lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters produced
by the body. Endocannabinoids bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors located in the endocannabinoid system (ECS)
throughout the entire body. These functions affect internal environment stability, which can help the body
achieve homeostasis. Homeostasis is a stable equilibrium for physiological processes, an overall balance
within the body between all of its components. If factors, such as illness or pain, throw off homeostasis
within the body, the ECS kicks in and helps the body return to a more ideal status.
The two most well studied endocannabinoids identified within the body are anandamide (AEA) and
2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG). Anandamide, found also in chocolate, has also been called the “bliss
molecule” due to its activation of cannabinoid receptors in the brain, heightening motivation and
happiness.⁵ There are many other isolated cannabinoids found throughout nature, like that of AEA, each
performing different functions in the human body. Endocannabinoids have been shown to regulate many
functions within the body like sleep, mood regulation, appetite, immune function, and neuro-protection. ⁴
CB1 & CB2 Receptors
Endocannabinoid receptors are found on cell surfaces; both CB1 & CB2 receptors serve multiple functions.
CB1 receptors are concentrated in the brain and central nervous system but are also sparsely located in
other parts of the body. CB2 receptors are mostly located in peripheral organs, especially cells associated
with the immune system.