The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The human body has an Endocannabinoid System (ECS) that receives and translates signals from cannabinoids. It produces some cannabinoids of its own, which are called endocannabinoids. The ECS helps to regulate functions such as sleep, immune-system responses, and pain. With receptors spread throughout the brain and body.

THC activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors, while CBD does not directly stimulate these receptors. The CB1 and CB2 receptors CB1 receptors are found mostly in the central nervous system, and in smaller numbers in the liver, kidneys and lungs, while CB2 receptors are part of the immune system and found in the hematopoietic blood cells as well.

CB1 plays a role in the production and release of neurotransmitters, cannabis products that exert psychoactive effects stimulating these receptors. At the same time, CB1 receptors are involved in the lipogenesis process that takes place inside the liver and seems to play a role in the maintenance of homeostasis (body’s internal equilibrium).

Various studies suggest that CB1 also influences pleasure, concentration, and appetite, memory and pain tolerance CB2 receptors, on the other hand, affect the immune system, being involved in a variety of functions like immune suppression or apoptosis (programmed cell death).

Scientists began to realize cannabis exerted its effects, in part, by mimicking our endocannabinoids. It appears the main function of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain bodily homeostasis—biological harmony in response to changes in the environment

Studies suggest that CB2 modulates the pain sensation and could play a role in various diseases, from liver and kidney problems to neurodegenerative diseases. CBD does not stimulate these two receptors; instead, it activates other receptors, like the vanilloid, adenosine and serotonin receptors. By activating the TRPV-1 receptor, for example, cannabidiol plays a role in the mediation of body temperature, pain perception, and inflammation. Then, CBD inhibits the FAAH enzyme, a compound that activates the CB1 receptor. By doing so, CBD minimizes the activation of CB1 by THC, reducing its psychoactive effects.

The activation of adenosine receptors by CBD gives the anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol. Adenosine receptors are also involved in the release of dopamine and glutamate, two neurotransmitters that play major roles inside the body. Dopamine is involved in cognition, motor control, motivation, and reward mechanisms, while glutamate is one of the major mediators of excitatory signals, being involved in memory, learning, and cognition.

High concentrations of CBD have been shown to activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, exerting anti-depressant effects. The same receptor is involved in a series of processes from pain perception, appetite, nausea and anxiety to sleep and addiction mechanisms. Finally, CBD blocks CPR55 signaling, decreasing bone re-absorption and cancer cell proliferation. GPR55 is widely present inside the brain, being linked with the modulation of bone density and blood pressure, as well as with cancer cell proliferation.

As previously said, CBD blocks the psychoactive action of THC, this being one of the reasons it’s generally considered advantageous to combine CBD and THC when for treatment purposes. However, the positive effects of cannabidiol are not dependent on the presence of THC, so you can still take advantage of the health benefits of CBD by purchasing products that contain only non-psychoactive CBD.

Experts are still trying to fully understand the ECS. But so far, we know it plays a role in regulating a range of functions and processes, including:

  • sleep
  • mood
  • appetite
  • memory
  • reproduction and fertility

The ECS exists and is active in your body even if you don’t use cannabis.

Read on to learn more about the ECS including how it works and interacts with cannabis.

The ECS involves three core components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes.

Endocannabinoids, also called endogenous cannabinoids, are molecules made by your body. They’re similar to cannabinoids, but they’re produced by your body.

Experts have identified two key endocannabinoids so far:

These help keep internal functions running smoothly. Your body produces them as needed, making it difficult to know what typical levels are for each.

Endocannabinoid receptors

These receptors are found throughout your body. Endocannabinoids bind to them in order to signal that the ECS needs to take action.

There are two main endocannabinoid receptors:

Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor. The effects that result depend on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid it binds to.

For example, endocannabinoids might target CB1 receptors in a spinal nerve to relieve pain. Others might bind to a CB2 receptor in your immune cells to signal that your body’s experiencing inflammation, a common sign of autoimmune disorders.

Enzymes

Enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids once they’ve carried out their function.

There are two main enzymes responsible for this:

What are its functions?

The ECS is complicated, and experts haven’t yet determined exactly how it works or all of its potential functions.

has linked the ECS to the following processes:

  • appetite and digestion
  • metabolism
  • chronic pain
  • inflammation and other immune system responses
  • mood
  • learning and memory
  • motor control
  • sleep
  • cardiovascular system function
  • muscle formation
  • bone remodeling and growth
  • liver function
  • reproductive system function
  • stress
  • skin and nerve function

These functions all contribute to homeostasis, which refers to the stability of your internal environment. For example, if an outside force, such as pain from an injury or a fever, throws off your body’s homeostasis, your ECS kicks in to help your body return to its ideal operation.

Today, experts believe that maintaining homeostasis if the primary role of the ECS.

The other major cannabinoid found in cannabis is cannabidiol (CBD). Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t make you “high” and typically doesn’t cause any negative effects.

Experts aren’t completely sure how CBD interacts with the ECS. But they do know that it doesn’t bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors the way THC does.

Instead, many believe it works by preventing endocannabinoids from being broken down. This allows them to have more of an effect on your body. Others believe that CBD binds to a receptor that hasn’t been discovered yet.

While the details of how it works are still under debate, research suggests that CBD can help with pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with multiple conditions.

The ECS plays a big role in keeping your internal processes stable. But there’s still a lot we don’t know about it. As experts develop a better understanding of the ECS, it could eventually hold the key to treating several conditions.

The following link goes into further detail of The Role of the Endocannabinoid System in the Brain-Gut Axis

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/27133395/?fbclid=IwAR0pg6VXvxSS_OlN_zE4Oi7ubuP936mFMRuNWc6bATEsRRDCjW837jx2B20

REFERENCES:

Akirav, I. (n.d.) Role of the endocannabinoid system in anxiety and stress-related disorders. Intech Open. Retrieved from http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/17314/InTech-Role_of_the_endocannabinoid_system_in_anxiety_and_stress_related_disorders.pdf

Alger, B. E. (2013). Getting High on the Endocannabinoid System. Cerebrum: The Dana Forum on Brain Science2013, 14. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997295

Gaoni, Y., and Mechoulam, R. (1964). Isolation, Structure, and Partial Synthesis of an Active Constituent of Hashish. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 86(8), 1646-47. Retrieved from http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja01062a046.

Gertsch, J., Pertwee, R. G., & Di Marzo, V. (2010). Phytocannabinoids beyond the Cannabis plant – do they exist? British Journal of Pharmacology160(3), 523–529. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00745.x

Kaur, R., Ambwani, S.R., Singh, S. (2016). Endocannabinoid system: A multi-facet therapeutic target. Current Clinical Pharmacology, 11(2), 110-7. Retrieved from http://www.eurekaselect.com/141330/article.

Kogan, N. M., & Mechoulam, R. (2007). Cannabinoids in health and disease. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience9(4), 413–430. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202504.

Lee, M. (2012). The Discovery of the endocannabinoid system. Retrieved fromhttp://www.beyondthc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/eCBSystemLee.pdf

Mandal, A. (2014, June 14). Phytocannabinoids. News Medical. Retrieved from http://www.news-medical.net/health/Phytocannabinoids.aspx.

Marchalant, Y., Cerbai, F., Brothers, H.M., & Wenk, G.L. (2008). Cannabinoid receptor stimulation is anti-inflammatory and improves memory in old rats. Neurobiology of Aging, 29(12), 1894–1901. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2586121

Mechoulam, R., and Hanus, L (2000, November). A historical overview of chemical research on cannabinoids. Chemistry and Physics of Lipids, 108(1-2), 1-13. Retrieved fromhttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009308400001845

National Cancer Institute. (2016). Cannabis and cannabinoids. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/cannabis-pdq#section/_11

Pacher, P., Batkai, S., & Kunos, G. (2006). The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy. Pharmacological Reviews58(3), 389–462. http://doi.org/10.1124/pr.58.3.2. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2241751

Pacher, P., & Kunos, G. (2013). Modulating the endocannabinoid system in human health and disease: successes and failures. The FEBS Journal280(9), 1918–1943. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1111/febs.12260.

Pagotto, U., Vicennati, V., & Pasquali, R. (2005). The endocannabinoid system and the treatment of obesity. Annals of Medicine. 37(4):270-5. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16019725.

Pandey, R., Mousawy, K., Nagarkatti, M., & Nagarkatti, P. (2009). Endocannabinoids and immune regulation. Pharmacological Research : The  Official Journal of the Italian Pharmacological Society60(2), 85–92. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2009.03.019.

Pertwee, R.G. (2006). Cannabinoid pharmacology: the first 66 years. British Journal of Pharmacology, 147(Suppl 1), S163-S171. Retrieved fromhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1760722.

Ruehle, S., Rey, A. A., Remmers, F., & Lutz, B. (2012). The endocannabinoid system in anxiety, fear memory and habituation. Journal of Psychopharmacology (Oxford, England)26(1), 23–39. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1177/0269881111408958.

Smith, S. & Wagner, M. (2014) Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD) revisited: can this concept explain the therapeutic benefits of cannabis in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and other treatment-resistant conditions. Neuro Endocrinol Letters. 35(3):198-201. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24977967

Wood, T.B., Spivey, W.T.N., and Easterfield, T.H. (1896). XL. – Charas. The resin of Indian hemp. Journal of the Chemical Society, Transactions, 69, 539-546. Retrieved fromhttp://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/1896/ct/ct8966900539#!divAbstract.

Disclaimer : This website contains general information about cbd oil and the possible health benefits. The information is not advice and is not a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional. You must not rely on the information  as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. FDA Disclosure:CBD products are not approved by the FDA for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease. While we publish and refer to currently available research on cannabidiol, terpenoids and other properties of hemp-derived cannabis oils, it is important to note: None of the products or information available on this website are intended to be a treatment protocol for any disease state. The information presented is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or instruction.  The FDA would want us to remind you: You should always seek the advice of a physician before adding any supplements to your diet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *