What does the endocannabinoid system do?
The endocannabinoid system’s primary function is maintaining homeostasis throughout the body. Bodily homeostasis is described as its ability to maintain optimal internal physiological conditions, even as the conditions around and within it change. These changes can be caused by several things, including pathogens, infections, or inflammation 1 Laurentiis, A., Araujo, H., & Rettori, V. (2014). Role of the Endocannabinoid System in the Neuroendocrine Responses to Inflammation. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 20(29), 4697–4706. https://doi.org/10.2174/1381612820666140130212957 .
Research continues into the full scope of the endocannabinoid system’s functions, but so far it has been found to help regulate several processes within the body, including:
- Metabolic function,
- Motor control,
- Stress and immune responses, and
- Reproduction 2 2. Hillard, C. J., Weinlander, K. M., & Stuhr, K. L. (2012). Contributions of endocannabinoid signaling to psychiatric disorders in humans: genetic and biochemical evidence. Neuroscience, 204, 207–229. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.11.020
The destabilization of the endocannabinoid system has been related to a few illnesses and ailments, such as
- Schizophrenia and anxiety,
- Eating disorders, and
- Inflammation 2 2. Hillard, C. J., Weinlander, K. M., & Stuhr, K. L. (2012). Contributions of endocannabinoid signaling to psychiatric disorders in humans: genetic and biochemical evidence. Neuroscience, 204, 207–229. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.11.020
As research into the endocannabinoid system continues, researchers are finding cannabinoid receptors in new locations throughout the body. To date, scientists have found cannabinoid receptors present in adipocytes (fat cells), the liver, the pancreas, and even in skeletal muscles. The localization of these receptors (the area in which they are found), may be an important clue in determining the functions of the endocannabinoid system and how they are performed 3 Mackie, K. (2008). Cannabinoid Receptors: Where They are and What They do. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 20(s1), 10–14. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2826.2008.01671.x .