What makes the ECS receptors from all other receptors is that most receptors have just one substance or impulse that will stimulate it, the usual single key and lock model, with only one key to unlock functionality to do one thing. The ECS receptors do the impossible. They allow multiple keys to open the same gate entering into multiple rooms initiating a wide array of responses. The permutation of what these receptors can initiate leads to the complexity of how they affect our bodies. Or we could say the system functions below the level of specific tasks and more in an oceanic environment where all is connected.
There are currently, I stress currently, two receptors that are known and studied. CB1 and CB2. CB stands for Cannabinoid.
CB1 is primarily found in the central nervous system, but also in a wide range of other places. The more we look the more we realize they are not limited to certain tissues, but are found all over and throughout the body. So really saying they are primarily found in the central nervous system is more an historical observation, for that is where they were first found.
CB1 is the most abundant G-protein coupled receptor in the central nervous system. There are more CB1 receptors in the brain than any other G-type. It has a major neuro-modulatatory function, A neuron is an electrically excitable cell that processes and transmits information through electrical and chemical signals. CB1’s role has been characterized as “relax, eat, sleep, forget and protect.”
CB2 has an immuno-modulatory function, which as the name refers, is about activating the immune functions. These receptors are found mainly in the peripheral nervous system, metabolic tissue and immune cells. It plays an important role in pain and inflammation.
But all of these descriptions and classifications are like looking at a flat model of a 4 dimensional landscape. We do not know enough and our descriptions fall short of a true picture.
CB2, originally thought to be mainly limited to immune cells, but now we see it is in other parts of the body. Density is high in the liver, spleen and connective tissues.
One of the really interesting things about CB2 is that tissues that don’t typically have CB2 will begin to do so after they are injured or inflamed or stressed or in some way dis-regulated. That is part of the body’s way to deal with that injury.
CB receptors are virtually absent in the brain stem cardiovascular centers. This is one of the facts that explains the lack of toxicity or overdosing when taking Cannabinoids. Because there are no receptors in the brain stem they do not suppress breathing or heart rate. Opioids do have receptors in this area and so can lead to overdose and death.
The body uses endogenous Cannabinoids, speaking through the receptors, calling our body into action at the cellular level.