What is the Role of The Endocannabinoid System?
The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiological system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.
Cannabinoids promote homeostasis at every level of biological life, from the sub-cellular, to the organism, and perhaps to the community and beyond. Here’s one example: autophagy, a process in which a cell sequesters part of its contents to be self-digested and recycled, is mediated by the cannabinoid system. While this process keeps normal cells alive, allowing them to maintain a balance between the synthesis, degradation, and subsequent recycling of cellular products, it has a deadly effect on malignant tumor cells, causing them to consume themselves in a programmed cellular suicide.
Cannabinoid receptors- CB1 & CB2
The two main receptors that form the endocannabinoid system are the CB1 and CB2 cannabinois receptors. It has been accepted recently that the orphan receptor GPR55 can be considered as the third receptor for cannabinoid activity. All these receptors are transmembrane proteins capable of sending out an extracellular signal into the interior of a cell. CB1 receptors are metabotropic receptors expressed most abundantly in the brain and their distribution has been widely characterized in humans. CB1 receptors are highly expressed in the hippocampus, basal ganglia, cortex and cerebellum.They are less expressed in the amygdala, hypothalamus, nucleus accumbens, thalamus, periapeduncular grey matter and the spinal cord, as well as in other brain areas, mainly in the telencephalon and diencephalon. CB1 receptors are also expressed in several peripheral organs. Thus, they are present in adipocytes, liver, lungs, smooth muscle, gastrointestinal tract, pancreatic ß -cells, vascular endothelium, reproductive organs, immune system, sensorial peripheral nerves and sympathetic nerves. The distribution of CB2 receptors is quite different and mainly restricted to the periphery of the immune system cells, such as macrophages, neutrophils, monocytes, B-lymphocytes, T-lymphocytes and microglial cells. Recently, CB2 receptor expression has also been shown in skin nerve fibres and keratinocytes, bone cells such as osteoblasts, osteocytes and osteoclasts, liver and somatostatin-secreting cells in the pancreas. The presence of CB2 receptors has also been demonstrated at the CNS, in astrocytes, microglial cells and brainstem neurons. There is evidence of staining with the CB2 antibody of human neurons. The presence of functional CB2 receptors is still debated. Recent evidence suggests that the CB2 receptor mediates emotional behaviours, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, memory and nociception, supporting the presence of neuronal CB2 receptors or the involvement of glial cells in emotional behaviours.
Even though there is a lot of information on these two receptors, there is a vast amount of research to be done to find more information about how the endocannabinoid system benefits our bodies.
There are many different plant and body-based Cannabinoids that present many health and well-being effects. All of these work together in tandem with each other creating an ecosystem that maximises the health benefits associated with each cannabinoid. Some of these Cannabinoids you may have heard of, others you may simply know what they do.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a very powerful psychoactive cannabinoid which is most associated with the ‘high’ that cannabis gives. The way that it interacts with the Endocannabinoid System means that its presence triggers a reaction that promotes happiness and euphoria but also physical health benefits. For example, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is also known to be a great modulator of pain as it helps to redirect the pain signals sent to the brain. This makes it a good choice for those suffering the overwelling sickness, tiredness and loss of appetite that is associated with chemo or radiation therapy for cancer. Research has suggested that it also reduces the symptoms felt by asthma, COPD, insomnia, depression and epilepsy/seizure sufferers. THC is banned under the misuse of drugs act and therefore, this is unavailable legally in the UK.
Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD) is not at all psychoactive but it is a powerful anti-oxidant and anxiolytic. As an anxiolytic, Cannabidiol (CBD) has the power to reduce or even irradicate anxiety and agitation meaning it is shown to be a great supplement for those struggling with mental health illnesses. It could be described as more of a sedative with very powerful anti-cancer properties. You may have noticed that we have some CBD based products- Click here to find out: What is CBD?
In addition to THC, Cannabinol (CBN) is a plant-based cannabinoid which has yet more pain reduction and anti-seizure properties. This is the key Cannabinoid for Glaucoma sufferers as it reduces the pressure build-up in the eyes.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is another supporting cannabinoid of THC. This compounds all of the effects of THC and reinforces the benefits from that Cannabinoid.
Cannabigerol is known for its anti-inflammatory and relaxing properties. Many patients with inflammatory conditions see a reduction in their symptom and athletes benefit from this cannabinoid during recovery.
Our body is an independent entity capable of receiving certain information from the outside world through the senses and then interpreting and elaborating on it in the brain, to finally allow the rest of our body to interact with such data. This arrangement allows our body to meet needs such as feeding or reproduction, in addition to being aware of both its own self and the outside world. Something much more complex to understand, is the fact that our body is formed by a colony of millions of cells. Each cell is independent, has its individual needs for energy sources and has its own biochemical process to obtain it. These cells are organised according to their function and structural diversity, thus building the different organs. Each organ plays an specific function in the human body in order to keep the whole organism alive. The organ in charge of keeping and controlling the different organ functioning, as well as processing the outside stimuli, is the brain.
We could say that the Endocannabinoid system is an intercellular communication system. It basically is a neurotransmission system, although it is much more than that, as it can also be found in other organs and body tissues than the brain. The endocannabinoid system seems to be the enhanced version of an ancestral intercellular communication system found in plants too; the arachidonic acid system. In fact, the Endocannabinoids’ nature is directly related to arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that participates in the signalling processes of plants and animals. It regulates the defences against infections and the signalling of stress in plants. It also controls animal muscle growth, platelet clumping, vasodialation and inflammation.
Although there are numerous claims about how certain products interact with the endocannabinoid system we cannot make any medicinal claims about our products. If you have an interest in the products that we sell please find our CBD Oil UK range, CBD paste, CBD Isolate (CBD powder) & CBD for Pets by clicking the links