The Endocannabinoid System Explained



If you’ve ever looked into the benefits of cannabis-based supplementation for pets, odds are good that you’ve gotten caught up on some of the complex terminology and jargon surrounding the topic. Most pet parents are already aware their animal’s body contains special cell membrane receptors called cannabinoid receptors, but they still aren’t quite sure how these receptors work. Put simply, cannabinoid receptors are activated by three major groups of ligands: endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids. Cannabis contains a variety of compounds, including phytocannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, and when these compounds are introduced into the body through pet-friendly cannabis supplements, they interact with an animal’s endocannabinoid system (comprised of many cannabinoid receptors), supporting a number of positive effects pertaining to healthy immunity, mobility, neurological function and more. That’s why thousands of pet parents across the nation are investing in cannabis products to support the health and happiness of their beloved cats and dogs.

At Canna Companion, we understand how complicated the world of cannabis science can be. That’s why we’re committed to connecting pet parents with all the resources and counsel they need to gain a comprehensive understanding of cannabis and how it may help foster improved health, comfort and care for companion animals. If you’re considering using hemp-based supplements as part of your dog or cat’s holistic care, it’s important to understand how these cannabis products will interact with your pet’s endocannabinoid system. So today, we’ll be taking a few minutes to explain how the mammalian endocannabinoid system works.

Defining the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) can be defined as a homeostatic receptor system whose sole function is to listen to and correct cellular stress chemokine production.  The receptors of that system are found within every tissue of the body, with a heavy percentage in neurological tissues. The ECS consists of four known receptor subtypes, their signaling pathways, endogenous ligands (endocannabinoids), and the synthetic and catabolic pathways for said ligands. When concentrations of the phytocannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids found within cannabis interact with the neuromodulatory lipids and receptors that make up the ECS, modulation of numerous physiologic and pathophysiologic processes can be observed, resulting in optimal health and comfort through adjunctive and palliative means.

A Rundown on Phytocannabinoids, Terpenes and Flavonoids

Now that we understand the effects that cannabis compounds can have on a mammal’s body via interaction with the endocannabinoid system, let’s take a few minutes to discuss the differences between phytocannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.


Phytocannabinoids are compounds which occur naturally in the cannabis plant.  Phytocannabinoids account for 111 of the 545 known compounds found within the cannabis plant.  The most impactful and heavily researched phytocannabinoids to date are CBD, CBG, CBC and CBN, and their natural (acid) forms found within the cannabis plant. CBD (cannabidiol) is particularly beneficial for pets because it works in conconjunction with THC (in very small amounts) to produce positive physiologic effects on mammalian tissues via the ECS, resulting in a number of valuable health and behavioral benefits. However, phytocannabinoids are only a part of the chemical equation of cannabis supplementation. To achieve maximized support and health through the “entourage effect”, phytocannabinoids must synergize with the other natural compounds found in cannabis, including its terpenes and flavonoids


Terpenes account for more than 140 of the compounds found in cannabis and are the main building blocks of all plant resins and essential oils. They’re a major source of a plant’s scents, flavors and colors. Furthermore, terpenes represent a large class of aromatic organic hydrocarbons structurally related to isoprene. The isoprene unit forms monoterpenoids, sesquiterpenoids, diterpenoids and triterpenoids, and each of these compounds produces different effects when introduced to an animal’s endocannabinoid system. The terpenes found in cannabis exhibit a wide range of biological activities. Some of them potentiate and mitigate the effects of phytocannabinoids, flavonoids and other terpenes, and some produce their own effects by means of the endocannabinoid and other systems. Consequently, terpenes are commonly utilized to increase the efficacy of pulmonary medicines, including bronchial inhalers and suppressants.


Flavonoids often occur as the pigments in fruits and flowers and have become incredibly popular in the fields of nutrition and medicine due to their potent antioxidant benefits. Over 23 flavonoids have been identified in Cannabis sativa L., and these represent seven chemical structures which can be glycosylated, prenylated or methylated. Regrettably, only a few of these 23 flavonoids have been extensively researched to gain a better understanding of their biological and physiological effects on mammals. Regardless, the flavonoids which have been studied demonstrate numerous and impactful physiologic benefits when introduced into the endocannabinoid system, particularly when combined with phytocannabinoids and terpenes.

Compound Synergy and the Entourage Effect

Once again, all three types of cannabis compounds we’ve discussed are most effective when they work together. When the cannabis plant’s major phytocannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are introduced to the ECS simultaneously, they synergize as nature intended, producing an entourage effect that results in more powerful and pronounced biological and physiological benefits in companion animals. However, the entourage effect only comes about when the entire cannabis plants’ chemical composition is used, which is why pet parents who want to provide maximum quality of life for their pets when utilizing cannabis-based supplementation invest in whole-plant products* like Canna Companion.  We use the mature stalks and seeds of the cannabis plant when producing our hemp supplements, providing perfect concentrations and ratios of phytocannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that optimize the benefits of cannabis in cats and dogs without making them feel high or stoned.

*References biochemical composition of mature stalks and seeds of hemp plants at harvest.

The Benefits of Canna Companion

Canna Companion is a pet-friendly hemp supplement which combines key phytocannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids to produce maximal ECS support for cats and dogs. Our formulations are a fantastic way to introduce your pet to the many benefits of cannabis. Here are some of the ways that Canna Companion can help support and maintain your pet’s overall quality of life:

  1. Digestion Support

Canna Companion is effective at supporting digestive processes and maintaining a healthy GI tract in cats and dogs.

  1. Joint Flexibility and Mobility Support

Normal daily exercise and activity can cause joint discomfort in felines and canines, particularly as they grow older. Canna Companion helps to support joint flexibility, mobility and general joint health, making it a great boon for dogs and cats who struggle with joint issues.

  1. Optimized Immunity

The naturally-occurring cannabis compounds found within Canna Companion help to support your pet’s immune system, keeping their body strong and happy throughout their life.

  1. Promotes a Calm, Relaxed Demeanor

Many pets experience periods of high stress throughout the day, resulting in destructive behaviors like chewing and scratching. When regularly administered, Canna Companion can encourage a normal, calm demeanor, mitigating the impact of temporary/situational anxieties.

  1. Maintains Neurological Health

Canna Companion uses the best parts of the hemp plant to support your pet’s endocannabinoid system, resulting in a healthy and properly functioning neurological system.

  1. Provides Comfort and Care

Old age and adverse health conditions can cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms that lessen an animal’s quality of life. Canna Companion encourages relaxation and comfort in cats and dogs of all ages, keeping them happy and lively.

Contact Canna Companion

If you’re interested in learning more about Canna Companion supplements, then be sure to call or message us today. You can also send us a message if you have any other questions about the endocannabinoid system, the cannabinoid receptor system or cannabis science in general. We’d be more than happy to set you up with any information you need to provide the highest level of care and support for your canine or feline.

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