What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?

Published Jan 25, 2019 04:46 p.m. ET

 It wasn’t until the 1990’s that the Endocannabinoid system was discovered.  Lisa Matsuda found this inter cellular communication system (or neurotransmission modulating system). This led to further examination as to how cannabis worked in conjunction with many other bodily functions to maintain homeostasis.

Dr. Matsuda opened the door for continued research.  However, much more is left to examine and try to comprehend before we will know the whole picture.    

The ECS communicates with many neurotransmitters; serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, opioid peptides, GABA, glutamate, prostaglandins, and acetylcholine.  These would be the party neurotransmitters which are generally accountable for the pharmacological effects of cannabinoids.

There is a belief that some disorders can be attributed to a deficiency in the ECS called Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome(CEDS) and may be associated with migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome.  

There is a process involved with ECS where cannabinoids in their natural state are combined for heightened effects. As opposed to just one compound, the combination of many has a more multiplying effect.  They call this “the entourage effect.” This is where trial an error with different strains could be helpful in finding the right mix for your particular issue.  


Any avid cannabis consumer knows that the munchies can be a big part of partaking of the herbal medicine. There is a lot of current research out there on obesity and the ECS, but we still have a long way to go.  Hopefully, we will be able to better understand the complex interactions between ECS and fat metabolism soon. Given the obesity rate has increased exponentially in the past couple of decades it may be a groundbreaking discovery.  This is paramount in averting controlling and or even remedying certain chronic conditions and creating a healthier population.

The history of cannabis reports its use for several illnesses including nausea, depression, arthritis pains, and headaches.  Some physicians today are open minded and becoming more re-educated in regard to ECS.  Being only a few decades into its discovery, and along with only recent Canadian legislation in place to allow for more accessibility to information, We can only wonder how much we can learn to serve ourselves better health-wise with Cannabis.  

You have to do your due diligence and research whatever information you can find; it's your health and its HIGH time we all stood up and demand less stigma and more acceptance towards the wonders of the new science behind this once illegal substance.



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