Did you know our bodies naturally produce their own cannabinoids? These molecules are called endocannabinoids (endo, meaning within the body). And the human body has a network of receptors that make up our endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is crucial to maintaining vital functions (hyperlink 1) such as sleep, stress management, pain tolerance, inflammation, reproduction, motor skills, and memory.
The endocannabinoid system was discovered through research of cannabis. It works together with other important systems such as the digestive, nervous, respiratory, and circulatory system. Endocannabinoid receptors sit on the surface of cells and “listen” to its changing conditions. If conditions fall out of balance, these receptors send signals to initiate the proper response.
The phytocannabinoids (phyto, meaning from a plant) found in cannabis imitate the endocannabinoids produced by our bodies. Medical cannabis treatment is aimed to neutralize harmful free radicals that cause aging, cancer, and impaired healing. The study of cannabis has led to a better understanding of other herbal medicines. Researchers have found that other plants such as echinacea also have cannabinoids.