How does CBD affect the human endocannabinoid system?

How does CBD affect the human endocannabinoid system?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a mysterious concept that few people have heard of unless you’re a CBD pro. If not, you might want to keep reading.

This is because experts believe the ECS may be vital for almost every aspect of our bodily functions.

So, if you’re looking to give Cannaray a try, it’s a good idea to start learning about CBD’s favourite system.

What is the endocannabinoid system?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) resides in all humans and is integral for your body to maintain homeostasis, or simply, balance.

Although studies are still ongoing to fully understand the ECS, it can influence everything in your body from your sleep, mood, appetite, memory, reproduction, and fertility.

Think about that euphoric feeling you get after exercise - that’s the ECS at work.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to use cannabis to have an ECS. Everybody has one, created before you were born.

How does it work?

The ECS can be broken down into 3 parts: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes.

Understanding how the ECS works can be tough, so we’ll simplify as best we can.


Endocannabinoids are molecules that your body creates to help each part function as it should.

Experts have identified two so far; AEA and 2-AG, which your body produces when needed.


These receptors are stationed throughout your body and are bound by the endocannabinoids when they need to let the ECS know to take action.

The two main receptors are CB1, which can usually be found in the nervous system, and CB2 in the immune system.

Endocannabinoids target the area where there is a signal, for example, they may target CB1 receptors in the spine to relieve back pain, or CB2 if there is inflammation.


The enzyme’s job is to break down the endocannabinoids once they’re finished.

There are two types; fatty acid amide hydrolase will break down AEA, and monoacylglycerol acid lipase the 2-AG.

Applying the ECS to a situation

It might help to explain the ECS in simpler terms by applying it to a situation.

Imagine there is a fire, firefighters, a person who makes the emergency call, and a clean-up crew.

Pain is the fire and the endocannabinoids are the firefighters, rushing to put out the flames.

The receptors made the emergency call to let the firefighters know about the fire, and the enzymes helped to clear-up the scene afterward.

What things are bad for the endocannabinoid system?

The assaults of modern living may disturb the balance of your endocannabinoid system. This includes stress, eating unhealthy foods, the chronic use of prescription drugs, and exposure to toxins and environmental pollutants.

Get it back on track by eating healthy food, introducing supplements like CBD and vitamins, detoxing, and reducing stress levels.

When was the endocannabinoid system discovered?

On the 24th March 1992, the endocannabinoid system was discovered by Czech analytical chemist Lumír Hanuš and the American pharmacologist William Devane, and it remains one of the most important achievements in cannabinoid science to date.

Together they isolated the first-ever endocannabinoid in the human brain and called it anandamide, after the Sanskrit word for joy.

Both Hanuš and Devane are still researching cannabinoids, with Hanuš even working with the lead researcher Raphael Mechoulam, who was the first to isolate the THC compound in cannabis back in 1964.

Their discovery of anandamide confirmed the brain’s ability to create its own cannabinoids. This results in a possible influence on motor skills, memory, appetite, and pain.

Studies continue to follow in the footsteps of Hanuš and Devane. In the future, it’s hopeful that we’ll be able to understand this system a little better.

The endocannabinoid system and THC

THC is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis that causes you to become ‘high’ - but don’t confuse it with CBD, as they’re very different.

Taking too much THC overloads your endocannabinoid system and takes over, resulting in an imbalance due to the endocannabinoids not being able to do their job.

Not only does THC cause a ‘high’, but it can impair your movement, memory, judgment and cause anxiety or paranoia, the opposite of what your natural cannabinoids are trying to achieve.

Over time, the abuse of THC can change how the ECS works as people rely on it for the same response. This could lead to long-term problems with memory and mental health.

The endocannabinoid system and CBD

CBD is the other main compound found in the cannabis or hemp plant, and unlike its sibling THC, it won’t make you ‘high’.

Not enough research has been conducted to fully understand how CBD works. But experts do know that it doesn’t bind to the CB1 or CB2 receptors in the same way as THC.

Rather, it may prevent the endocannabinoids from being broken down, enabling them to have a stronger and longer effect. Other people believe that CBD binds to another undiscovered receptor.

While not confirmed, many believe CBD works on the endocannabinoid system in therapeutic and healing ways.

CBD oil in a dropper sitting on a dark brown wood table

Although experts don’t fully understand the endocannabinoid system, we do know that it helps your body to maintain balance.

CBD is becoming very popular, which could increase the demand for cannabinoid research so that one day, we can fully understand this secretive system.

If you’re not feeling yourself or are looking for an alternative treatment option, give Cannaray’s CBD products a try and see if it helps to bring balance back to your body.

Alexandra Moses - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 31 July 2023
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