What is the Endocannabinoid System & How Cannabis Interacts With it

When it comes to cannabis, many Canadians have been asking so many questions. Especially about how it works and why it works for humans. And considering how popular cannabis products are in Canada, it’s not surprising that many people want to know everything about them.

To know more about cannabis, there is something that all Canadians need to be aware of: the Endocannabinoid system or ECS. Cannabis and all its compounds are working closely with the ECS. Much research has been done on ECS and as we know more about it the more, we are convinced that cannabis does offer health benefits for the users.

For now, we know that ECS regulates a range of functions and processes such as sleep, mood, memory, reproduction and fertility, and appetite. The system exists in your body and is active no matter whether you consume cannabis or not.


Therefore, by learning about ECS and how cannabis interacts with it, we can at least understand enough about cannabis and perhaps make you be more at ease when consuming it. But keep in mind that we don’t fully understand ECS yet, so there will be things that are still a mystery.

How does ECS work?

The ECS has three core components that work with each other: receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes. Let’s learn more about each of these components.


These endocannabinoid receptors are exist throughout your body. The endocannabinoids are bound to them so they can send signals that are needed for the ECS to take action. You will hear a lot about these receptors while learning about cannabis or cannabinoids: CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors.

CB1 receptors are mostly found in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are mostly found in the peripheral nervous system, including the immune cells. The endocannabinoids can bind themselves to either receptor. The effects that you feel will depend on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid is bound to it.

For example, the endocannabinoids that bind themselves to CB1 receptors in a spinal nerve could relieve pain in the area. On the other hand, the endocannabinoids that bind themselves to CB2 receptors located in the immune cells could signal that your body’s now experiencing inflammation.


Endocannabinoids are also called endogenous cannabinoids. They are molecules made natively by your body and are similar to cannabinoids that you can get from cannabis. So it’s very interesting to find something that is produced by our bodies but can also be found from cannabis and vice versa.

There are two important endocannabinoids that we know so far, anandamide or AEA and 2-arachidonolyglyerol or 2-AG. These two key endocannabinoids are what help keep internal functions in the body running properly. Everyone’s body produces just enough of them when needed, so it could be tricky to know for sure the levels for each in the body.


Enzymes are the ones responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids once they have done their jobs. Much like the endocannabinoids, we know two important enzymes: fatty acid amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol acid lipase. The former breaks down AEA, while the latter breaks down 2-AG.

How does cannabis interact with the ECS?

To know more about it, let’s learn about how THC and CBD, the two popular cannabinoids in cannabis, interact with the ECS.

The interaction between THC and ECS

THC is one of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis that can make you feel high. Once the THC gets inside your body, it will interact with your ECS by binding to receptors. The thing that makes THC so powerful is that it can bind itself to both CB1 and CB2 receptors.

The result is that THC can have a range of effects on your mind and body – desirable or not. This is why people might differently about THC. For some Canadians, THC may help to reduce pain and stimulate appetite. But for other Canadians, it may cause anxiety and paranoia.

The interaction between CBD and ECS

CBD is the other main cannabinoid that comes from cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t make you high and is the main player that gives the user many health benefits. Although experts still don’t know exactly how CBD interacts with the ECS, what they do know is that it doesn’t bind itself to either CB1 or CB2 receptors.

Instead, many experts believe that CBD works by preventing the enzymes from breaking down the endocannabinoids. This results in the endocannabinoids having more of an effect on the body. While other experts believe that CBD binds itself to an unknown receptor. So further research is very much needed in this regard.


There you have it, what we know so far about the endocannabinoid system and how cannabis interacts with it. It’s unfortunate that we still don’t know about the entire process. But everything that we know so far has created so much positivity and optimism on cannabis in Canada.