Scientists only discovered in the early 1990s that humans and animals have an endocannabinoid system. This system is the “signal generator” in the body. It checks at cell level whether there is a problem. The system then sends a signal to the brain so that it can send the correct auxiliary chemicals to the relevant cell. In this way, the endocannabinoid system regulates certain processes in the body, such as pain, inflammation and the immune system. Read more about how this system works in horses in this article.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoid is the name for a group of chemicals that are produced by the body itself, but that can also be found in cannabis and clove plants. CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the two best known cannabinoids. But did you know there are many more? There are currently 130 different cannabinoids known to science. In the body, these chemicals have the function of binding to receptors. You can see a receptor as a switch that can be pressed. This happens when the right chemicals, such as cannabinoids, attach to this switch. A signal then goes to the brain. The brain can respond to this and possibly return a “solution”. In science, the receptors (switches) are divided into two groups: the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
- CB1 receptors: These are mainly found in our central nervous system and a number of organs. They play a role in pain, nausea, memory and fine momement skills.
- CB2 receptors: These are mainly found in the cells of our immune system and peripheral organs.
Science calls this system of switches the endocannabinoid system (ECS). “Endo” stands for body’s own.