How does the endocannabinoid system affect health?
The endocannabinoid system is a biological system that plays many important roles in the human body. He is also responsible for the physical and psychological effects of cannabis.
Scientists first discovered the system by trying to understand the effects of cannabis, and called it the endocannabinoid system for this reason.
Endo means endogenous, meaning native within the body. Cannabinoids refers to the group of compounds that activate this system.
The endocannabinoid system is a major goal of medical research because of its generalized effects and therapeutic potential. Although scientists have solved the basics of this fascinating system, much more remains to be covered.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are the chemical messengers for the endocannabinoid system. While there are many different cannabinoids, they all fall into two categories: endogenous or exogenous.
The originating endogenous means inside the body. Also known as endocannabinoids, these compounds are produced naturally by the human body. They interact with cannabinoid receptors to regulate basic functions , including mood, appetite, pain, sleep, and many more.
The exogenous means that originate outside the body. Cannabinoids found in marijuana, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), are considered exogenous. When consumed, they also interact with cannabinoid receptors to produce physical and psychological effects on the body.
What are cannabinoid receptors?
You may wonder, what exactly are receivers? As the name implies, the receivers are receivers of messages. Messages are presented in the form of chemical messengers that attach to the receiver. These messages produce a characteristic effect within the body.
The endocannabinoid system has two receptors: CB1 and CB2 . Each receptor responds to different cannabinoids, but some cannabinoids can interact with both.
The distribution of CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body and brain explains why cannabinoids have certain effects.
CB1 receptors are found throughout the body, but are mostly present in the brain and spinal cord. They focus on the regions of the brain associated with influencing behaviors.
For example, there are CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus, which is involved with appetite regulation and the amygdala, plays a role in memory and emotional processing. CB1 receptors are also found in nerve endings in which they act to reduce feelings of pain.
CB2 receptors tend to be found in the peripheral nervous system. They focus especially on immune cells. When CB2 receptors are activated, they work to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response that is believed to play a role in many diseases and conditions.
With respect to cannabinoids found in cannabis, researchers have found that THC binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors, triggering them as well as an endocannabinoid.
CBD does not bind directly to cannabinoid receptors. Instead, CBD works by inhibiting an enzyme called FAAH, which is responsible for the breakdown of the most important anandamide – endocannabinoid in the body. When FAAH is inhibited, it can not break down anandamide at its normal rate. This leads to an accumulation of anandamide in the brain.
What are endocannabinoids?
Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced naturally in the human body. 2-AG and anandamide are the two main endocannabinoids that scientists know about them.
Endocannabinoid anandamide was the first to be identified by scientists. Discovered in 1992, its name comes from the Sanskrit word ananda referring to its unique effects on the mind and body. In 1995, scientists discovered a second endocannabinoid and named it 2-AG (glycerol 2-arachidonoyl).
2-AG is found in higher concentrations in the brain, while anandamide is found in higher concentrations in other areas of the body. Both are able to bind the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but differ in their affinities for these receptors (ie, the probability of binding and activating each receptor).
Endocannabinoids are “order-short” neurotransmitters, meaning they are synthesized on demand. In other words, endocannabinoids only occur when body signals make them necessary, and their presence is transient.
After being released, endocannabinoids are rapidly decomposed by enzymes , which include FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) and MAGL (monoacylglycerol lipase).
Conversely, when marijuana is consumed, large amounts of cannabinoids enter the body and stay. This means that the endocannabinoid system is activated more strongly and for longer than it normally would be.
There are other endocannabinoids currently under study, including noladin ether, virodamine, and dopamine N-arachidonil (NADA). However, their role in the body is not fully understood.
Functions of the endocannabinoid system
The endocannabinoid system is involved with the regulation of many basic functions of the human body, including:
- Memory and learning
- Immune function
- Neuronal development
- Cardiovascular function
In addition to maintaining basic functions, the endocannabinoid system also acts in response to the disease.
For example, tumor cells have been shown to express cannabinoid receptors rather than healthy cells. Studies also show an increase in endocannabinoid levels in patients with various disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, anxiety, pain and chronic arthritis.
As a result, some scientists believe that the general function of the endocannabinoid system is to regulate homeostasis .
Homeostasis is a key element in the biology of living things. It is best described as the ability to maintain stable internal conditions that are necessary for survival.
The disease is largely a result of a failure to achieve homeostasis. Therefore, the role of the endocannabinoid system in the maintenance of homeostasis becomes a unique and promising goal in medicine.
The Endocannabinoid System in Medicine
Currently there are two main ways of targeting the endocannabinoid system: medical marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids .
Medical marijuana is the most common way of targeting the endocannabinoid system to treat various diseases. Marijuana compounds, including THC and CBD, are known to produce therapeutic effects through interaction with the endocannabinoid system.
Medical marijuana may be prescribed for a wide variety of conditions including chronic pain, nausea, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and palliative care.
Despite the success of medical marijuana, some users experience unpleasant side effects, such as vertigo. Some people do not enjoy the psychological effects of marijuana, and would prefer a treatment that avoids this.
Synthetic cannabinoids are molecules that have been designed to mimic the activity of existing cannabinoids. These compounds may target the endocannabinoid system in a more specific and efficient manner.
For example, dronabinol is a synthetic version of THC that can be prescribed for cancer and AIDS patients to combat nausea and loss of appetite. Cesamet is another synthetic cannabinoid that is similar to THC. It is used to reduce vomiting in patients with cancer and for the treatment of pain in several disorders, including fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain.
In addition to mimicking the effects of cannabinoids, such as THC, synthetic cannabinoids can also be designed to target specific parts of the endocannabinoid system while avoiding others.
For example, researchers are currently examining whether the endocannabinoid system can be targeted peripherally using synthetic cannabinoids that can not cross the blood-brain barrier. This would avoid the negative side effects of cannabinoids that enter the central nervous system and affect the brain (that is, the feeling of being “placed”).
In short, the endocannabinoid system is truly a treasure trove for scientists and medical professionals. It is extremely complex, plays an important role in many vital processes, and is very promising as a treatment target for many debilitating diseases.
Translated by: Google Translate