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Endocannabinoid System Discovery

How the Endocannabinoid System Discovery Advanced Our Understanding of Human Health

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Perhaps you’ve heard the term Endocannabinoid system but don’t quite understand the meaning. You may wonder if it’s really possible that a human biological system was named after cannabis. The answer is unequivocally yes.

In the first ever Extract Collective blog, we begin by explaining how scientists first discovered the suitably named Endocannabinoid system and touch on its importance to overall health. We continue the conversation at the Women’s Cannabis Wellness series on March 3 and in future blogs and events to come!



Relative to the thousands of years since our ancestors first began smoking cannabis, scientific understanding is still in its infancy. It wasn’t until 1964 that researchers first extracted CBD & THC from the plan and identified the compounds as marijuana’s two major phytocannabinoids. This revelation occurred decades before the Endocannabinoid system discovery and sparked an important inquiry.

After extracting CBD & THC scientists wondered, how do these cannabinoids interact in the body to produce marijuana’s intoxicating effects?


22 years later, scientists discovered a vast network of receptors (CB1) in rats that became activated through interaction with the phytocannabinoids THC and CBD. CB1 receptors were located in the parts of the brain responsible for memory, higher cognition, motor coordination, appetite and emotions. CB1 was referred to as a cannabinoid receptor because of its active communication with the plant’s compounds.

Five years later, scientists discovered a second class of cannabinoid receptors (CB2) that were concentrated in the immune system, brain and gastrointestinal system to name a few. These receptors were later found in humans and almost all other mammals.

The CB1 and CB2 discoveries were fascinating, yet perplexing to scientists. They wondered, why would human bodies contain these phytocannabinoid friendly receptors in the first place?


Research forged on and hit another breakthrough when Raphael Mechoulam along with NIMH scientists discovered two endogenous cannabinoids (aka endocannabinoids) named Anandamide and 2-AG. Known as the human body’s naturally occurring cannabis, these endocannabinoids also activate CB1 and CB2 receptors. This discovery proved that CB1 and CB2 receptors along with their endogenous counterparts formed a pervasive internal system that contributed to wellness across every major function of the human body. They called it the Endocannabinoid System.


The Endocannabinoid system is now medically recognized as a major signaling network that helps the body maintain homeostasis or internal balance from changing external environments. Sufficient cannabinoid levels (think Anandamide, 2-AG, CBD or THC) are important to ensure that the Endocannabinoid system functions properly on a few simple tasks below. No big deal, just every important function needed for a normal, healthy life.

- Neural development

- Immune function

- Metabolism

- Energy

- Learning

- Pain

- Emotions

- Arousal

- Sleep

- Stress Reactivity

- Reproduction

Join the Women’s Wellness Series to Learn More
Mind blown from the data above? We have so much more to share and so much more to learn ourselves. That is why Extract Collective is committed to promoting medical cannabis education driven events. At the Women’s Wellness Series on March 3 at Magic City Studios, experts will talk Endocannabinoid system and discuss how CBD and THC can promote natural health. In this event, we focus on how women can benefit from cannabis for inflammation, pain, PMS, sleep, anxiety, and sexual disfunction. Join us to discover more about your body and how the plant can heal.

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