What is the Endocannabinoid System?

When you search for the endocannabinoid system (ECS) online you are instantly met with definitions only a scientist could understand. So, we have broken this down in an easily understandable way to help you further your CBD journey in a stress-free way.


The ECS is a cell-signalling system within the human body. Experts are still trying to fully understand the ECS. But so far, it is known to play a role in regulating a range of functions and processes in the body, including:

  • Mood
  • Memory
  • Sleep
  • Appetite
  • Pain sensation
  • Reproduction and fertility

The ECS is active in your body even if you don’t use cannabis.

The ECS involves three core components: Endocannabinoids, cannabinoids and receptors.

Endocannabinoids are molecules made by your body. They’re similar to cannabinoids, but they’re produced by your body.

These help to keep internal functions running smoothly. Your body produces them as needed, making it difficult to know what typical levels are for each.


A cannabinoid is a class of chemical compound that binds to the cannabinoid receptors found within the body. Cannabinoids are found in your CBD products with cannabidiol (CBD) being the most prevalent.

Endocannabinoid receptors

A receptor is a protein molecule that receives the messages. These receptors are found throughout your body. Endocannabinoids bind to them in order to signal that the ECS needs to take action.

There are two main endocannabinoid receptors:

  • CB1 receptors which are mostly found in the central nervous system
  • CB2 receptors which are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system

Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor. The resulting effects depend on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid it binds to.

For example, endocannabinoids might target CB1 receptors in a nerve to relieve pain. Others might bind to a CB2 receptor in your immune cells to signal that your body is experiencing inflammation, a common symptom in autoimmune disorders.

The grouping of the cannabinoid receptors, receptor proteins and endocannabinoids make up what is called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).



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