Cellular Biology

The endocannabinoid system safeguard balance in our body

The endocannabinoid system (ECS), first discovered in the early 90s, is paramount to understand how cannabis works in the healing of the human body.

The ECS is a network of cells throughout our body that have receptors for CBD. In fact, there are more receptors for CBD in our body than any other kind of receptor. The ECS is the largest network of its kind throughout our entire physiology and is responsible for maintaining balance or homeostasis throughout the body and regulate the interactions between the immune -, hormone -, and neurological systems.

The ECS functions by two primary binding molecules; anandamide (ANA) and 2-AG, which are endocannabinoids that systematically regulate all signals between the different body systems.

The ECS is similar to software that runs your internal processes, whereas the software is the neurotransmitters in the nervous system, the hormones that run the endocrine system and the cytokines that run your immune system.

endocannabinoid-system
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Central nervous system – plays a role in controlling certain memory processes, promoting the generation and protection of new neurons.
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Immune System – Controls immune system by inhibiting the production of proinflammatory cytokine.
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Hormones – involved in the hypothalamic function which controls responses to stress, metabolism and reproduction.
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Gastrointestinal System  – promotes shielding the GI tract from inflammation and particularly high gastric and enteric secretions.
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Metabolism – preserves balance by regulating nutrient transport, energy storage, food intake and modulating insulin sensitivity.
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Skin Diseases – regulate proper and balanced proliferation, differentiation and survival as well as immune competence of skin cells.
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Muscles – helps increase stamina by controlling blood sugar and stimulates “runner´s” high.
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Bones – involved in bone mass regulation and bone regrowth.

The ECS comprises of 3 key components:
• Cannabinoid receptors – found on the surface of cells
• Endocannabinoids –  small molecules that activate cannabinoid receptors
• Metabolic enzymes – that break down endocannabinoids after they are used

Cannabinoid receptors
are located on the surface of all cells in your body and they  “listen” to conditions outside the cell. They transmit information about altered conditions to the inside of the cell and initiate the relevant cellular response.

There are two main cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. These are not the only cannabinoid receptors, but the first to be discovered and remain the best studied.

CB1 receptors are one of the most abounding types of receptors in the brain. These are the receptors that interact with THC to get people high.

CB2 receptors are more abundant outside the nervous system, places like the immune system. However, both receptors can be found throughout your body.

CB1 and CB2 receptors are key players in the ECS. They are located on the surface of all cells throughout your body, but CB1 receptors are more prevalent in the central nervous system, including neurons in the brain. In contrast, CB2 receptors are more abundant outside the nervous system, including cells of the immune system.

Endocannabinoids
are the two primary binding molecules ANA and 2-AG, that  systematically regulate all signals between your different body systems.

Both molecules are controlling your ECS and you sense these at the experience of euphoria, fear and anxiety. In everyday situations, these two molecules are the reason behind “runners high”, the feeling of euphoria after extensive exercise, as well as being the reason behind why babies are so calm and happy when they are breastfed.

Metabolic enzymes
includes the metabolic enzymes that destroy all endocannabinoids in ECS once used. The two main enzymes are FAAH which degrades ANA and MAGL which degrades 2-AG.

These enzymes ensure that endocannabinoids are used when needed, but no longer than necessary. This process separates endocannabinoids from many other molecular signals in your body, such as hormones or classic neurotransmitters, which can persist for many seconds or minutes, or be packed and stored for later use.

The EndoCannabinoid System safeguards the Biochemical Balance in our Body

The ECS is the “control unit” of all interactions in our body; such as energy supply, brain activity, cell division and immunity to maintain our bodies’ structural and functional integrity.

If the ECS fails to work properly the interactions and communication between the different organs and body activities will be interrupted which will cause diseases, such as

  • metabolic disorders such as obesity, anorexia or diabetes, cancer or
  • degenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s,
  • excitability disorders such as epilepsy or Migraine or
  • autoimmune disease such as Arthritis, Psoriasis, Multiple Sclerosis etc.

The ECS maintains balance or homeostasis in our body, but it is also a system evolved from nature working like a biochemical feedback system.

The cannabis plant contains complements of cannabinoids that are equally, if not more, powerful to regulate our body’s most crucial biochemical systems, the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This offers some great opportunities in therapeutics treatment as plant cannabinoids can be used to enhance and optimize our endocannabinoid system, and thus anticipate, prevent or even fight diseases.

The Body’s Cannabinoids is similar to Cannabinoids found in the Cannabis Plant

The acting and effectiveness of the body’s cannabinoids – is similar to Phytocannabinoids, produced by the cannabis plant.  This means that when you have a problem within the internal workings of your body’s ECS and the natural endocannabinoids it produces, you can adjust the ECS system by introducing phytocannabinoids found in cannabis.

By manipulating the ECS with plant-derived cannabinoids, research has shown you can use these phytocannabinoids to treat a number of health conditions.

Learn more about different kind of Cannabinioids and Cannabinioids classifications.

Efficacy of Plant Cannabinoids in Medical treatment

There are few questions that can arouse stronger feelings among doctors, scientists, politicians and the public than the medical use of cannabis. However, patients report many benefits of CBD, from relieving inflammation, insomnia, anxiety, spasticity and pain to treating potentially life-threatening conditions such as epilepsy and cancer.

The efficiency of treatment with cannabis is still investgated and many clinical trials are being performed.  One of the more comprehensiv studies has been performed by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine by Harvard Medical School, who found “substantial” evidence that cannabis/cannabinoids are an effective treatment for chronic pain and inflammation. The committee concluded their finding in 2017 based on reviewing 10,000 studies from the past two decades and weighed the strength of the evidence for nearly two dozen health conditions that scientists have studied.

In our disease section, we review some of the above studies and, combined with the therapeutic benefits of the compounds, the properties of Medical Cannabis are evaluated. The evaluation is performed by a comparison with current clinical trials and literature in the field, including PubMed (US National Library of Medicine, NIH) and SpringerLink (the world’s most comprehensive online collection of scientific, technological and medical journals). 

Learn more about diseases where cannabinoids are reported to have therapeutic potential.