Endocannabinoids are known as the endogenous ligands of cannabinoid receptors 1 or CB1, and 2 or CB2. Endocannabinoids have a multitude of responsibilities in the regulation of the immune system, brain, and overall homeostasis within the body. Cannabinoids are what interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system works to maintain balance in the body by its messenger molecules that the body synthesizes, the receptors that the molecules will bind to, and also by the enzymes that break the molecules down.
Endocannabinoids can be thought of as messengers that will trigger reactions. The most researched cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2. While CB2 is most known to be found throughout the central nervous system, CB2 can be found in immune cells through the bloodstream in the body and brain. they can also be found in neurons throughout certain areas of the brain. To break it down scientifically, the two most popular endocannabinoids are known as anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These will search for CB1 and CB2 receptors and they also interact and activate many receptor proteins within the body.
When endocannabinoids target the cannabinoid receptors, many different functions can be affected. Sleep, reproduction, motivation, cardiovascular functions, metabolism, energy, appetite, and pain are all things that are part of the endocannabinoid system. Through CB1 and CB2 receptor pathways, endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG play a large function in regulating pain and inflammation in the body. 2-AG also plays a large part in regulating anxiety and depressive episodes.
One study that was conducted in 2014 found that low 2-AG levels in mice could have been contributing to anxiety and various mood disorders. Anandamide plays a fairly substantial role in regulating sleep through interacting with CB1 receptors. Endocannabinoids have been found to have a big part in keeping the gastrointestinal tract protected from inflammation.