The human body produces its own cannabinoids as part of our Endocannabinoid System (“endo” meaning “internal; within”). This is often called the ECS (EndoCannabinoid System).
The ECS is involved in various physiological processes, including appetite, pain sensation, mood and memory. The ECS can decrease the rapidity of information a nerve fires or decrease inflammation by opening up blood vessels, for example.
There are two main endocannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. These receptors (synapses) work like a baseball glove, catching and transporting information throughout the body. Although THC, THCV and CBD all have an effect on CB1 and CB2 receptors, this is by no means the only part of the nervous system these cannabinoids have an effect upon.
Cannabinoids that enter the body from outside the use of plants (e.g. from marijuana use) are called “phytocannabinoids” (“phyto” meaning “of a plant”). These phytocannabinoids are numerous in number, and can either block or promote the transmission of information, depending upon the plant’s cannabinoid profile.
This is the reason why so many different strains (or,more accurately, “chemovars” of cannabis) have such a wide array of effects and uses. This is also one of the main reasons why marijuana has so many medical applications – it helps patients regulate their ECS to “normal” levels that make their lives better. For example, a person who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS) has an over- and/or under- abundance of information released into their nervous system causing spasms, and marijuana can help control these spasms.