Hemp, Health & Humans: The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Did you know that cannabidiol oil has a unique chemical code that is linked to a system in our bodies that controls other bodily systems? Deep, eh?

 

This complex system of lipid-based neurotransmitters and receptors made of proteins has a role in these and potentially other bodily functions:

  • Appetite
  • Memory
  • Metabolism
  • Stress Management
  • Immune Function
  • Reproduction
  • Sleep

Here’s what is also interesting, the ECS is essentially a set of control systems for other systems. Much in the same way that a modern manufacturing plant has automated assembly lines managed with video cameras, sensors, and software. These process control systems make sure the lines run in sync and output is optimized. The systems tell one area when to move parts to another, or slow down or replenish supplies, pause lines, etc.

This is how cannabidiol oil has the potential to improve multiple human maladies. And perhaps also why there are volumes of historical and anecdotal evidence data (even NIH studies and papers), indicating that CBD oil (and in some cases THC too) has the potential for profound impacts.

 

Did you know that in spite of using cannabis and cannabidiols for medicinal purposes since the 4th century BC, the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) was not discovered until the 1980’s? Kind of makes you go, “Hmmm?”

 

Accordingly, mankind has at some time in the last 5,000+ years, documented positive results with CBD Oil when it has been used in conjunction with the following:

  • Pain Relief
  • Anxiety Relief
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Depression
  • ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • Epilepsy, Seizures & Convulsions
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Smoking Cessation

As a bonus, Cannabidiol is both a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. 

Cannabinoids can also regulate the activity of phosphatases, as exemplified the CB1-mediated regulation of calcineurin (protein phosphatase 2b) () or the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase 1, which plays an important role in the anti-inflammatory action of anandamide ().

The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy, NIH National Library of Medicine, PÁL PACHERSÁNDOR BÁTKAI, and GEORGE KUNOS

An abstract and a link to full text are below.

 

Now, here’s the simplest way to sum up the interaction: Cannabidiol oil affects the endocannabinoid system, causing it to produce more of the body’s own endocannabinoids, which in turn regulate other systems and functions.

The ECS has two receptors for cannabinoids (CB1 & CB2). 

The CB1 Receptors are most prevalent in the brain and gut, but also found in other parts of the body. Not surprisingly, they appear to impact the things that you might think THC (the psychotic component of marijuana) would impact: Thinking, mood, feelings of euphoria, memory, and appetite.

 

 

cannabidiol molecule image

This is what the cannabidiol molecule looks like.

 

 

The CB2 receptors are found primarily in the immune system, although they are present in every organ of the body, and they are more closely linked to inflammation and pain, and cannabinoid oil primarily impacts these receptors.

Interestingly, cannabinoids do not appear to be taken up by either the CB1 or CB2 receptors. The role they play is to help the body produce more of its own cannabinoids, which are the endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids act as signals that alert a receptor cell that molecules have been released. This is called a retrograde signal, as one cell sends messages back to another cell to manage it.

Reminder: BA CBD Oil contains only trace amounts of THC (0.00001 mg per 5 mg) and is not psychoactive. Sorry, it does not get you high!

 

Want to learn more? This July 26, 2016, article by Delilah Butterfield is well-researched and very informative:

CBD Oil: Everything You Need to Know About Cannabidiol.

Want to go deep and get technical about your ECS? Try this NIH paper:

The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy
Abstract

The recent identification of cannabinoid receptors and their endogenous lipid ligands has triggered an exponential growth of studies exploring the endocannabinoid system and its regulatory functions in health and disease. Such studies have been greatly facilitated by the introduction of selective cannabinoid receptor antagonists and inhibitors of endocannabinoid metabolism and transport, as well as mice deficient in cannabinoid receptors or the endocannabinoid-degrading enzyme fatty acid amidohydrolase. In the past decade, the endocannabinoid system has been implicated in a growing number of physiological functions, both in the central and peripheral nervous systems and in peripheral organs. More importantly, modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system turned out to hold therapeutic promise in a wide range of disparate diseases and pathological conditions, ranging from mood and anxiety disorders, movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis, to name just a few. An impediment to the development of cannabinoid medications has been the socially unacceptable psychoactive properties of plant-derived or synthetic agonists, mediated by CB1 receptors. However, this problem does not arise when the therapeutic aim is achieved by treatment with a CB1 receptor antagonist, such as in obesity, and may also be absent when the action of endocannabinoids is enhanced indirectly through blocking their metabolism or transport. The use of selective CB2 receptor agonists, which lack psychoactive properties, could represent another promising avenue for certain conditions. The abuse potential of plant-derived cannabinoids may also be limited through the use of preparations with controlled composition and the careful selection of dose and route of administration. The growing number of preclinical studies and clinical trials with compounds that modulate the endocannabinoid system will probably result in novel therapeutic approaches in a number of diseases for which current treatments do not fully address the patients’ need. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of knowledge of the endocannabinoid system as a target of pharmacotherapy.

 

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