Understanding the endocannabinoid system

Learn what are the functions of the endocannabinoid system in our body and how these receptors interact when we use cannabis.

Cannabis has been a subject that got a lot of attention in a very broad aspect lately right? Even though that can be quite relative depending on which country you are at, the internet and the mainstream media have been bringing this subject into the light.

In a scientific and therapeutic perspective, since 1990, cannabis, has been revolutionizing medicine and the lives of many the discovery of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The most magical fator discovered is that actually, our brain produces this natural “cannabis-like” molecules, it is like we have been connected with this plant since ancient days.

How about knowing more about it? Come with us!

What is the endocannabinoid system?

The endocannabinoid is a widespread neuromodulatory system discovered at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem by Dr. Lumir Hanus along with American researcher Dr. William Devane while exploring the THC compound. Dr. Lisa Matsuda was the first to publish the existence of the cannabinoid receptor CB-1, and since then the medical community has been in search of a deeper understanding of how this system works and why does it exist. 

Afterall, an important question: why would the body produces cannabinoid receptors if cannabis is bad for you?

To understand it better we must first explain three structural components: endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes.

Endocannabinoids are very similar to the cannabinoids found in the plant, but they are produced by our own body and who help our body to control internal functions when something is unbalanced. So far the most known endocannabinoids are: Anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).

The endocannabinoid receptors are proteins that possibilitate the interaction of substances with the molecules that are present in the inside and they can be found through all our body. They are actually the most abundant neuromodulatory receptors in the body and the two most known are the CB-1, that is mostly found in the central nervous system and the CB-2, that is mostly found in the peripheral nervous system, especially the immune cells

The enzymes are the ones in charge of dissolving the the endocannabinoids once they have carried out their functions, and each one has a specific enzyme for that, but for now we will not go deeper into that. 

The broad presence of endocannabinoid receptors through the human body and their interaction with hormones explains why the ECS works as one of the major players in vital functions such as: sleep, mood, appetite, stress, liver function, metabolism, chronic pain, skin and nerve function and so much more. 

Our body works hard to keep things in balance and we have natural reactions when we feel that something is off, so we try to protect our internal environment –  that process is known as homeostasis. When something needs to be regulated, the ECS is activated and our body will start it’s process and not stop until the problem is solved, that is why having a deficiency of endocannabinoids can cause many complications.

But that is our bodies natural reaction, what happens when we use cannabis and cannabinoids such as THC, CDB, CBG, CBN and all others interact with our receptors?

What has already been discovered

Studies conducted with THC have shown that it has a preference with CB-1 receptors that are mostly present in the human brain and the explanation to why it produces the psychoactive and intoxicating effects known as the “high”. On the other hand, studies show that CBD instead of interacting with one or the other, it interacts with the whole ECS and helps us to produce more endocannabinoids that will help on a healthier body. 

New studies are being done with isolated cannabinoids to understand their interaction, but there are also some new studies being done with full spectrum cannabis, that show that when combined cannabinoids have different behaviours and may act even better. There is much to learn about all the medical potential of cannabis and also the precautions of the abuse.  

All of this explains:

  • Why cannabis produces such curious and complex effects in our mind and body
  • Why this discoveries are ground breaking and revolutionary for some diseases
  • Why it is so important for users to use it safely and responsibly
  • Why governments and states must legalize cannabis, incentive scientific research, guarantee public access and repair social damages caused by the war on drugs. 

Incredible to know all of that, right? Keep an eye here on the blog to know even more!

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