Cannabinoids and Endocannabinoid System
Updated: Apr 19, 2019
A basic picture showing where some of the CB1 & CB2 receptors are located
First thing to understand is the differences in types of Cannabinoids you will encounter.
Phytocannabinoids - Naturally occurring, growing and developing on the plant itself, found on Cannabis (Hemp & Marijuana).
Synthetic Cannabinoids - Artificially produced, I've also never seen a producer of such label them as "synthetic". So, it can be hard to tell the difference when making a purchase decision.
Endocannabinoids - Another naturally occurring Cannabinoid, produced by our own bodies! That's right, the human body is a self-healing / regulating machine!
All natural cannabinoids act as ligands, meaning they dock onto the binding site of a protein and have the ability to modulate a receptor’s behavior.
As mentioned above, the human body has established what is referred to as the "Endocannabinoid System". This system is found in all vertebrate species, it has been used as the body's way to create homeostasis and adapt to environmental changes. There are three main elements involved in the endocannabinoid system, Endocannabinoid receptors, Endocannabinoids and Enzymes. It is also important to note that any and all information we do have is very limited, and just barley touches on the immense complexity and importance of this system. Science has barely scratched the surface of what some call the "ghost in the machine"; this systems main responsibility is to re-balance other crucial systems in the body to control, pain, mood, inflammation, energy, wellness, and illness using the two known :signaling molecules" AEA & 2-AG. It is able to do this without building up or holding onto any of it's main components, as soon as it detects an unbalancing in the body it activates instantly, and just as quickly disappears, absolutely remarkable!
There is a vast network of cannabinoid receptors which are located primarily in the brain and nervous system, but can be found in almost every part of the body. The two main ones that are spoken about in the scientific journals are the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but there is a whole list of other receptors associated with this system. Some examples of where these are located, gastrointestinal system, reproductive and urinary tracts, spleen, endocrine system (hormones), Heart, circulatory system.
These receptors are widely distributed, but are primarily located in areas of the brain, especially those concerned with movement, coordination, pain and sensory perception, emotion, memory, cognition, autonomic and endocrine functions. Scientific studies on mice have resulted in preliminary evidence, showing that the activation of these receptors result a multitude of potential health benefits. The CB1 receptor is expressed throughout the brain, where endocannabinoids and CB1 combine to form a "circuit breaker" which influence the release of both inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters across the synapse. It is the activation of the CB1 receptor that is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, since THC ( plant based cannabinoid) is acting as a endocannabinoid binding to this receptor.
Examples of the possible therapeutic uses are; reduction in pain and inflammation, reduction of cancer cells growth, anti-anxiety & mood elevation, regulation of cardiovascular system, increased neuro-plasticity, appetite stimulant. Again, more testing is needed to officially confirm any of these potential effects, but the future looks bright!
These receptors are located mostly in the immune system, gastrointestinal system spleen thymus gland, tonsils, and pancreas; though they are still represented in the brain, they are less common and located on different tissues compared to CB1 receptors. Possible therapeutic uses for the activation of CB2 receptors include, mainly pain and inflammation deduction in various parts of the body, but also a role in the treatment of neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, crohn's disease, or any disease associated with high levels of inflammation. Researchers from a 2009 study found that it may be possible to receive all the benefits from the activation of this receptor with out any of the "high" effect, if they can discover a way to exclusively activate CB2 receptors. As of 2014, no-one has been successful in accomplishing this goal, and there may be a simple answer... The Entourage Effect.
The Entourage Effect:
You may have heard this term thrown around at your local dispensary, online, or in your circle of friends; and we are glad if you have! What this refers to is the synergistic nature of the cannabis plant, and may be why no-one can figure out a way to receive the same benefits with CBD-isolate and Full-Spectrum CBD. What we refer to as "Full-Spectrum CBD" is a a product like a tincture, that was extracted using the whole plant(steams, leaves, buds, roots) and with low amount of heat. This ensures that the most maximum amount of biodiversity is retained in the final product, containing not only cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, THC (legally under 0.3% to be considered Hemp) etc. But a whole range of different, fats, lipids, and terpenes, which all work together like a team; you wouldn't want just one firefighter to show up to your burning building?? You want the whole department! Another important note is that we have only identified 111 cannabinoids, two cannabinoid receptors, two cannabinoid signaling molecules, and five cannabinoid enzymes. Of which Science has studies attributing to pharmacological effects for less then 10% of these cannabinoids! This tells us that one we need a lot more research, and two no one has any undisputed answers when talking of dosing, especially if you're talking about a specific cannabinoid mg dose for an acute condition. It's in our opinion that one should stick with only Full-Spectrum CBD, until our understanding becomes more concrete. But even with more research and study, we are predicting that two things will eventually be made clear:
1. Low doses are more effective (Around 10mg)
2. Full-Spectrum CBD made from whole plant will be considered the most effective
This is intended as a basic overview of the Endocannabinoid System, as stated many times above, this is a new field of study and new information is coming out all the time. We will continue to create more and more content that we feel is relevant for our site visitors. An informal survey of U.S. medical schools showed that only 13% of institutions covered the endocannabinoid system in the training of new doctors. So even your doctor (unless he's researched on his own) probably doesn't know much about this complex system of homeostasis. We hope this article as peaked your interest in cannabis and maybe even gave you the spark to do some independent research!
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