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Despite it being almost 2 decades since it was discovered, the medical community still has much to learn about how the human body’s endocannabinoid system works. Our knowledge today is restricted to understanding that the endocannabinoid system influences almost every aspect of the human body, its interactions and a range of its functions including mood, memory, pain, sleep, appetite, immune, and reproductive functions.

The fact that being an intricate web of receptors, the endocannabinoid system connects all parts of the body to each other. Further investigation into the functioning of the endocannabinoid system has shown that in mammals it can be broadly categorized into two main receptors – CB1 and CB2.

The CB1 and CB2 receptors are broadly responsible for maintaining and controlling the functioning of the human central nervous system. The CB1 receptors are responsible for immunity, appetite, pain, memory, mental cognizance, and motor functions. The CB2 receptors are responsible for almost everything else, i.e all of the body’s peripheral systems. These include bone and tissue health, GI tract, gut health, vision, cardiovascular system, kidney, pancreas, and liver function, respiratory and reproductive system, epidermis, and skeletal muscles.

Discovery of the Endocannabinoid System

Science finally caught with biology and the endocannabinoid system was discovered in 1992 by Dr. William Devan, an American researcher, and Dr. Lumir Hanus, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Since 1992, the research team has further discovered how the endocannabinoid system and lesser-known endocannabinoids influence our body’s functioning and boost mental and physical health. 

The Effect of Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabinol on the Endocannabinoid System

Despite the fact that the endocannabinoid system has been a focus of medical research since late 1980-early 1990, the medical community is yet to fully grasp the full measure of how THC and CBD influence the endocannabinoid system.

A popular theory establishes that when CBD is introduced into the human body, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system and prevents endocannabinoids from deteriorating. This leads to a positive impact on the body functions that it influences. 

Therefore, the theory concludes CBD is not directly responsible for the benefits that users experience including improvement in inflammation, pain, mental health, etc. Rather, it is the endocannabinoid system that is now able to operate at its full potential. While this may not be a very compelling theory, it is probably the most popular one at the moment. 

When it comes to understanding how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) works with the endocannabinoid system, the findings are pretty similar to CBD’s interaction. THC is the psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant and is responsible for the mind-altering or ‘high’ factor associated with the plant. Though the chemical makeup of CBD and THC are quite different, their interactions with the endocannabinoid system are similar. 

When cannabis is consumed, either smoked or ingested, THC molecules attach themselves to the endocannabinoid receptors in the body. However, where CBD’s effects on the receptors are positive, THC on the other hand blocks the receptors from communicating with different parts of the body. Hence, consuming THC leads to diminished motor function, mental ability and negatively impacts judgment. 

While this can be a potentially dangerous or unwanted effect, it can be acceptable in controlled environments. However, it is not the best route to take for users looking to improve their overall health and homeostasis. 

To Conclude

The endocannabinoid system is a complex web of receptors and enzymes that are present throughout the human body. It is similar to the central nervous system in that it is responsible for maintaining an appropriate level of homeostasis – a stable equilibrium between interdependent elements in the body. 

To this end, the endocannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2 are a critical part of maintaining this equilibrium. When these are out of sync, overall health can deteriorate.

As science and medical research progress, our understanding of how these systems interact will increase as will our knowledge of how to improve them. 


CBD products that are derived from Hemp and contain less than the prescribed .3 percent of THC are legal per federal law. However, certain state laws may still deem it illegal.

CBD products that are derived from Marijuana are illegal per federal law but remain legal under the laws of certain states. 

It is advisable to check the appropriate state laws in case of travel. It is important to note that over-the-counter CBD products are not approved by the FDA.

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