First of all, what is the "endocannabinoid system" (ECS) anyway? The ECS has a system of receptors that are found throughout the human body and have a major influence on inflammatory responses in the body. These receptors are found almost everywhere in the body and are activated by ligands (such as THC or Omega 3 EPA/DHA metabolites) when they bind to the ECS receptors that line the body.
The fact that the receptors are found throughout the entire human body (bones, skin, brain, etc.) means they can influence almost every part of your body. For instance, there is evidence that supports the idea that if your body is sick in a certain area, that said area will generate increased ECS receptor density. It appears that the ECS is setting up more sites to catch the compounds needed to affect the disease in that specific area.
Once the receptor sites increase, one would need a corresponding increase in endocannabinoids to attach to the receptors for greatest effect on the area. This is where we get the "activating the endocannabinoid system" phrase from.
In essence, we want to increase the amount of compounds in the body to activate (bind to) the receptors. The ECS is a homeostatic regulator of sub-cellular biochemistry, intercellular communication, and all body systems. Therefore, we encourage homeostasis in the body when we activate the ECS properly.
The most well known way to activate the ECS is through the use of cannabis. However, there are other ways to activate the ECS without the use of cannabis. Our bodies produce cannabis like compounds that bind to the ECS receptors for similar effects, although not as intense as the use of cannabis. Through endurance exercise, yoga, and acupuncture we can produce these cannabis like compounds in our bodies that bind to the ECS receptors. Click the underlined link for more information on how this works.
We can also help to activate the ECS properly through diet. Primarily through the balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in our diet. However, there are also various foods, such as chocolate, that influence the ECS as well.