An Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System

Understanding the ECS's role in bodily equilibrium and the influence of phytocannabinoids.

Here we begin our ongoing series on the Endocannabinoid System or ECS introduction. In this series we will be exploring the many aspects of the ECS, including the ECS and our immune system, the ECS and inflammation, the ECS and mood regulation, the ECS and pain management and the critical role it plays in helping to regulate and maintain our overall health and wellbeing.



Here is a brief ECS introduction: The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) helps in maintaining equilibrium amongst many of the different functions and systems within the human body. The ECS consists of a network of receptors that are activated by cannabinoids. What are cannabinoids? Cannabinoids that are created within the body are known as endocannabinoids. Cannabinoids created by plants are known as phytocannabinoids. The ECS is responsible for cannabinoids’ interactions with neurotransmitters.

While many discoveries regarding this system have been made, including the biphasic relationship between the ECS and our immune system, the ECS and inflammation, the ECS and mood regulation and the ECS and pain management, there is still much research to be done to fully understand the ECS and its role in regulating homeostasis within the body. The first cannabinoid receptor and endocannabinoid were not discovered until the late 80s and early 90s respectively, thus our scientific research regarding how cannabinoids’ interact with neurotransmitters is a little understood aspect of human health and is still in the early stages. To date, there are over 120 known endocannabinoids being studied.

Primary Cannabinoids




Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)

Cannabidiol (CBD)


The ECS is responsible for regulating many of the body’s natural functions due to the relationship between the ECS and our immune system, the ECS and inflammation, the ECS and mood regulation and the ECS and pain management through activating endocannabinoid receptors found throughout the body, primarily concentrated in the brain, spinal cord, and immune system. Endocannabinoid receptors can also be found in the digestive tract, reproductive system, lungs, kidneys, liver, pituitary and thyroid glands, fat cells and muscle cells. Cannabinoids’ interactions with neurotransmitters throughout the body can be beneficial in various ways. 

The exact systems and mechanisms for regulation are still being explored, however the ECS plays a role in controlling the body’s immune system, appetite, pain, inflammation, mood, body temperature, memory, reproductive health, and sleep cycle regulation.



Cannabinoids can stimulate/increase appetite.


Cannabinoids can block signals in the body that trigger nausea and vomiting.


Cannabinoid receptors in the brain are capable of suppressing pain signalling.


Cannabinoids have the potential to produce feelings of relaxation and euphoria. They can also reduce feelings of anxiousness and worry.


THC can lower body temperature. The ECS also plays a role in the body’s immune response to ward off infection.


Cannabinoid receptors are highly concentrated in areas of the brain responsible for regulating memory and learning.


Phytocannabinoids can potentially disrupt and lower the production of estrogen and progesterone in women.


Some cannabinoids can be sedating, specifically THC, which shares structural similarities to anandamide, an endocannabinoid that can affect sleep patterns.



The Future of Research on the ECS

While the initial research regarding the ECS began with the focus of studying the effects of cannabinoids from cannabis on the body, the discoveries that followed have exposed a need to better understand the natural functions of the ECS that occur independently from the introduction of phytocannabinoids like the relationship between the ECS and our immune system, the ECS and inflammation, the ECS and mood regulation and the ECS and pain management. Among the most interesting areas of current study is the research regarding endocannabinoid deficiency or dysfunction, and the potential implications this might have for a variety of common and difficult to treat chronic conditions.

UP NEXT – In the next segment of our series covering the Endocannabinoid System, we will be discussing the endocannabinoid receptors of the ECS, including what are CB1 and CB2 receptors. We will take a closer look at these receptors, their locations, functions, and signalling processes.

To begin your cannabis medicine journey today, book an appointment now with the Savikalpa Virtual Clinic for an online doctor consultation, or request more information from a member of our highly trained clinic staff (

We pride ourselves on being one of India’s most qualified sources of fast, friendly, and professional access to ayurvedic medicine online!

Interested in learning more? Send us your questions ( It is our mission to educate patients in any way we can, and we would be delighted to hear from you.

Research regarding the endocannabinoid system:

DISCLAIMER – All individuals accessing this site undertake full responsibility for their own assessment of the accuracy/relevance of any and all content found herein. The content found on this site is not intended to serve as a substitute for medical advice/diagnosis/treatment from a qualified and licensed health care provider. This information should also in no way be misconstrued as professional legal advice regarding legislative, regulatory or any other matters. Individuals should always seek guidance of fully qualified professionals.