The reason cannabis works, be it medicinally or psychoactively, is the endocannabinoid system (ECS). A network of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoid molecules, the ECS allows the body to enjoy the pleasures of THC, CBD, CBN, etc. How so? Long story short, when cannabinoids are absorbed by the body, ECS receptors are stimulated and they tell our brain to create a “high.” Let’s dig into the significance of the ECS and its implications for medical cannabis.

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Though the ECS is known mainly for its relationship with THC, there’s a lot more to it. The ECS works to keep us in homeostasis, a state of physical equilibrium. Crucial processes like sleep, immune function and memory are all regulated in part by the ECS. Endocannabinoids serve as messengers, telling your body when to start and stop various physical and mental processes. The ECS keeps us in what Nick Jikomes of Leafly terms the “Goldilocks zone,” a place between the middle of two extremes.


As cannabis research increased in the later 20th century, so did ECS research. The two are inextricably tied and researchers are just beginning to grasp the magnitude of the cannabis/ECS connection. Many things about medical cannabis and the ECS are unknown, but there are a few promising leads:

Cannabis may contribute to a healthy ECS:

The reason people generally feel no effect their first time using cannabis is they have fewer CB1 receptors. With repeat cannabis use, the body creates more receptors and builds a more complex, more healthy ECS.

The ECS may allow cannabinoids to kill cancer cells:

Recent studies have shown a connection between cannabis and cancer cell death. The intermediary who processes cannabinoids and routes them to cancer cells? The ECS.

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In summary, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) allows medical cannabis to work its magic. Though endocannabinoids were identified less than thirty years ago, researchers have made incredible headway and we’ll be in awe of the ECS for years to come.

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By |April 30th, 2017|aerīz, Wellness|

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