Endocannabinoids are a class of naturally occurring lipophilic molecules found in humans and all animals. These chemicals interact with the endocannabinoid system, a nervous signalling system found in all animals, which is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body. By binding with endocannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids keep a variety of functions of the body in balance, such as sleep, mood, memory, pain, learning, inflammation, and hunger. Endocannabinoids are distinct from phytocannabinoids, which naturally occur in the cannabis plant.
“The endocannabinoid anandamide is known as the bliss molecule.”
“Endocannabinoids keep my body in balance.”
What are endocannabinoids?
Endocannabinoids are a class of naturally occurring lipophilic molecules found in humans and all animals. These chemicals interact with the endocannabinoid system, an important system in humans and animals which is responsible for regulating homeostatic activity, or keeping certain functions in the body in balance.
The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors such as CB1 and CB2, endocannabinoids which are able to bind to and activate these receptors, such as anandamide and 2-AG, and enzymes which clear endocannabinoids from the body.
What do endocannabinoids do?
Endocannabinoids act as messengers in our endocannabinoid system. Once produced by the body, they bind to an endocannabinoid receptor and trigger a shift in a bodily function, only to then be quickly cleared from the body.
Endocannabinoids are able to activate cannabinoid receptors to modulate a number of different functions in the body, including sleep, mood, memory, pain, learning, inflammation, energy, immune response, muscle control, hunger, and body temperature.
What is the difference between endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids?
While endocannabinoids are naturally produced in the body, another class of cannabinoids are also able to interact with the endocannabinoid system: phytocannabinoids, which are produced in the cannabis plant.
Phytocannabinoids are surprisingly similar in structure to our natural endocannabinoids, which allows them to also bind easily with endocannabinoid receptors and trigger shifts in many of the same functions that the endocannabinoid system keeps in balance.