THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM
Cannabis has been at the center of exciting developments in modern science. Research on cannabis has led to the discovery of more than 100 cannabinoids found in marijuana. Of these molecules, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have been studied most extensively.
So, how does the body interact with these molecules to produce medicinal effects? What are the mechanisms behind how the cannabinoids work on the human body? It is important to have a basic understanding of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to answer these questions.
What Exactly Is The Endocannabinoid System?
The endocannabinoid system is a powerful physiologic system responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body. If homeostasis is normal in the body, life continues; if not stable than a host of issues may arise, from depression to being sick. The endocannabinoid system consists of three distinct parts: endocannabinoids receptors, cannabinoid receptors, and metabolic enzymes.
The endocannabinoid receptors are located all over the body in the brain, tissues, glands, and organs. These receptors are embedded in our cell membranes, and when stimulated by cannabinoids, it produces different reactions.
Cannabinoids are produced from two distinct places — the cannabis plant, which produces phytocannabinoids, and the body, which produces naturally occurring endocannabinoids. However, cannabinoids can also be produced synthetically and distributed on the market. Cesamet (nabilone) and Marinol (dronabinol) are synthetic versions of THC that have FDA approval to be marketed and sold as a prescription drug.
Metabolic enzymes help destroy endocannabinoids after they are used and no longer useful to the body. The two main metabolic enzymes are monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). These self-regulating systems make sure that interaction only happens when needed.
CBD and Cannabinoid Receptors
So, how does cannabis interact with our bodies and the endocannabinoid system? Two cell receptors make up the endocannabinoid system, Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2). CB1 receptors are located in the peripheral and central nervous system. They are also found in the brain and are the receptors that THC interacts with, giving the user a high. CB2 receptors are found on immune cells, in the peripheral nervous system, and the gastrointestinal tract. Both the CB1 and CB2 form a large part of the endocannabinoid system, play roles in regulating cardiovascular activity, digestion, appetite, hunger, memory, mood, and pain in the body.
The Endocannabinoid System and Health
There are hundreds of case studies supporting CBD as an effective treatment for dozens of health issues. Researchers that are exploring the endocannabinoid system have found some health information regarding the following conditions:
PTSD patients have had increasing success with THC. While its’ ability to help us forget unimportant details is strange at first, using that functionality to help patients overcome negative thoughts and increasing mood has proven to be very helpful.
IBS or Crohn’s
CB2 receptors are responsible for regulating inflammatory responses of the system because they are located densely in the gastrointestinal system. It’s good news for patients who use CBD for digestive issues like IBS or Crohn’s.
CBD-rich and low-THC strains are recommended for patients with epilepsy because of its anti-inflammatory properties. The side effects of anticonvulsant medications are long as opposed to the calming, non-psychoactive, and healing effects of CBD.
General Mental Health
Genetic studies have revealed that CB1 receptors are essential for controlling and reducing anxiety during stress periods, so having no CB1 receptors or less CB1 receptors can cause complications. According to research, mice without CB1 receptors exhibit “psychological abnormalities” like enlarged amygdalas and increased anxiety.
The American Medical Association are calling for more research to be done on medical cannabis and its impact on humans. Until then, it’s crucial for patients and consumers, to stay informed about the endocannabinoid system and the evolving science of medical cannabis.
How to Safely Use CBD
It is always best to seek advice from doctor before incorporating CBD into your wellness regimen. CBD may interact with medications or other supplements you are already taking. It is very crucial to be aware of what is happening inside you.
Anything Else You Should Know?
Yes. The endocannabinoid system is a massive part of the human body. Not only does the ECS system help regulate systems within the body; it also helps control our patterns externally including how we interact with our environment. Socially, the administration of cannabinoids can alter human behavior, often-promoting humor, and creativity.
We hope this article is of help to you. Spread the word to someone who needs to know about the endocannabinoid system, and makes sure you take care of yours!