Understanding The Endocannabinoid System


Our body's ECS blog header.

Welcome to our deep dive into the fascinating world of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This complex cell-signaling system plays a crucial role in maintaining our body’s homeostasis and regulating a multitude of physiological processes. Despite its significance, the ECS is often a mystery to many. But, why should you know about it? Understanding the ECS allows us to better grasp how substances like cannabinoids, found in cannabis, interact with our bodies and influence our health. We’ll be exploring the ECS, the difference between endogenous and phytocannabinoids, the roles of the two main endogenous cannabinoids, how CB1 and CB2 receptors work, and more. So, let’s unravel this mystery! 

What Is The Endocannabinoid System?

The ECS is a comprehensive system found in all vertebrates, working quietly in the background to maintain homeostasis, also known as balance, within the body. It influences various functions, including mood, sleep, appetite, pain, and immune response. The ECS is composed of endocannabinoids, enzymes that help produce and break them down, and receptors (CB1 and CB2) that these cannabinoids bind to. 

Endocannabinoids vs. Phytocannabinoids 

Endogenous cannabinoids, also known as endocannabinoids, are naturally produced within our bodies. Anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are two of the most well-studied endocannabinoids produced by the human body. Here’s what each of these endocannabinoids does: 

  • Anandamide (AEA): Often referred to as the “bliss molecule,” anandamide is named after the Sanskrit word “ananda,” which means “joy, bliss, delight.” It’s a fatty acid neurotransmitter associated with the regulation of a broad range of physiological and cognitive processes including mood regulation, pain regulation, appetite and weight management, as well as memory and learning. 
  • 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG): While not as well-known as anandamide, 2-AG is actually more abundant in the body and plays a major role in immune system regulation, pain regulation, neuroprotection, and cardiovascular function. 

Phytocannabinoids, on the other hand, are derived from plants, with the most well-known being Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) from cannabis. Both endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids interact with the ECS, but they differ in origin and impact on the body. You can read all about various cannabinoids including CBD and THC and how they interact with the body HERE.

CB1 and CB2 Receptors 

Inside the ECS, there are two main types of receptors that both endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids interact with.  

  • CB1 receptors are predominantly found in the brain and central nervous system.  
  • CB2 receptors are more commonly seen in peripheral organs and cells associated with the immune system.  

CB1 receptors have a high affinity for THC, explaining the psychoactive effects of cannabis. On the contrary, CBD doesn’t directly bind with CB1 or CB2 but influences them, explaining why CBD doesn’t have intoxicating effects but has therapeutic potential. 

Practical Applications 

As we understand the ECS, we can appreciate how different forms of cannabinoid consumption affect us.  

  • Tinctures, administered under the tongue, allow cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream directly, offering a fast and efficient method of consumption.  
  • Edibles involve ingesting cannabinoids, which then undergo metabolism in the liver before entering the bloodstream – this results in a delayed but longer-lasting effect. 
  • Topicals allow cannabinoids to interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the skin, useful for localized discomfort.
  • Cartridges or vape pens provide a method of inhalation, with cannabinoids rapidly absorbed by the lungs into the bloodstream, offering quick relief but with a shorter duration. 

The ECS, with its endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes, is a significant yet underappreciated system in our bodies. Its roles in maintaining homeostasis and mediating the effects of cannabinoids are central to our health and wellbeing. Understanding the ECS helps us make more informed choices about utilizing cannabinoids, whether they be from tinctures, edibles, topicals, or cartridges. As science continues to uncover the mysteries of the ECS, we look forward to the potential therapeutic applications that await us.  

Remember, a balanced ECS is key to a healthier and happier life. 


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or ailment. Illuminent assumes no responsibility for the improper use of these products. We recommend consulting with a qualified medical doctor or physician when preparing a treatment plan for any and all diseases or ailments. Illuminent does not make any health claims about our products and recommends consulting with a qualified medical doctor or physician prior to consuming our products or preparing a treatment plan. It is especially important for those who are pregnant, nursing, chronically ill, elderly or under the age of 18 to discuss the use of these products with a physician prior to consuming them.  

Illuminent Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally-occurring constituent of the industrial hemp plant. Illuminent does not sell or distribute any products that are in violation of the United States Controlled Substance Act (US.CSA).  Illuminent does sell and distribute industrial hemp-based products.