What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a signaling system of receptors and molecules distributed throughout the body. Endocannabinoids, the receptors that they bind to, and processing molecules are collectively known as the ECS, which has been widely implicated in physiological regulation. The role of the ECS in health and disease is an area of ongoing and exciting biomedical research, with current findings demonstrating ECS involvement in numerous physiological and cognitive processes including maintaining homeostatic balance. As the complexity of the ECS has emerged, a plethora of biological processes have been linked to ECS functioning, involving mechanisms and activities related to pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress and sleep, metabolism, immune functioning and reproduction1,2,.

 

Ligresti, De Petrocelis & Di Marzo (2016). From Phytocannabinoids to Cannabinoid Receptors and Endocannabinoids: Pleiotropic Physiological and Pathological Roles Through Complex Pharmacology. Physiol Rev. 96: 1593-1659.

 

Di Marzo (2018). New Approaches and Challenges to Targeting the Endocannabinoid System. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 17(9):623–639.