• Ashley Slimak

What is the Endocannabinoid System and How Does It Work?


One of the most remarkable aspects of medical marijuana treatment is that our bodies have internal structures that are designed to be able to interact with the medicinal compounds that are found in marijuana.


The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is made up of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoid molecules, and their metabolic enzymes. The ECS is a system that our bodies use to help maintain homeostasis - an internal mechanism responsible for stability, balance, or equilibrium within the cell or the body. This balance allows our organs, cells, and systems to function optimally.

The ECS serves many purposes and is in charge of various functions such as:

  • Memory

  • Digestion

  • Motor function

  • Immune response and Inflammation

  • Appetite

  • Pain

  • Blood pressure

  • Bone growth

  • Protection of neural tissues, among others.

There are two primary cannabinoid receptors in the ECS called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are one of the most abundant receptor types in the brain and are the receptors that interact with THC to elicit the psychoactive effects. In contrast, CB2 receptors are more abundant outside of the nervous system in places like the immune system. Altogether, CB1 and CB2 receptors are distributed throughout the central nervous and immune systems, and within many other tissues, including the:

  • Brain

  • Gastrointestinal System

  • Reproductive and Urinary Tracts

  • Spleen

  • Endocrine System

  • Heart

  • Circulatory System

When marijuana is consumed, cannabinoids bind to receptor sites throughout our brain (CB-1 Receptors) and body (CB-2 Receptors). Different cannabinoids have different effects depending on which receptors they bind to. For example, THC binds to receptors in the brain whereas CBN has a strong affinity for CB-2 receptors located throughout the body. It is important to remember that molecules like cannabinoids and other neurotransmitters rarely interact with only one receptor type; they often interact with many. While cannabinoids may activate the same cannabinoid receptors as endocannabinoids, they will likely interact with several other receptors and therefore have distinct effects. The activation of CB1 receptors is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana, as THC is mimicking an endocannabinoid by binding to this receptor.

Arkansas Marijuana Card Doctors

If you are an Arkansan suffering from one of these 18 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.

Click here to learn more about what Arkansas Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at (844-249-8714) and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment through telemedicine.

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