Endocannabinoid system (ECS) and Cannabinoids
Scientists believe that the endocannabinoid system has been conserved in living organisms for more than 500 million years.
The Endocannabinoid system is a biochemical communication system in the human body, which plays a crucial role in regulating our physiology, mood, appetite, pain, memory and movement in the human body. ECS affects a wide variety of biological processes, but it’s main function is to regulate homeotasis.
Homeostasis is the state of steady internal, physical and chemical conditions and it is extremely important for the biology of all living things. Endocannabinoid systems exist within mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish (and possibly even some invertebrates!).
History of cannabinoid receptors
Humans have used drugs that have been derived from plants for many thousands of years to decrease and cope with pain.
The discovery of receptors in the brain that respond pharmacologically to cannabis—and the subsequent identification of endogenous cannabinoid compounds in our own bodies that bind to these receptors—has significantly advanced our understanding of human biology, health, and disease.
American researcher discovered the first cannabinoid receptors in the brain in 1988, they named them cannabinoid 1 receptors – CB1. Five years later, scientists found cannabinoid receptors in the immune system – CB2.
Scientist have since relized that CB1 receptors are found mostly on neurons in the spinal cord, brain, and peripheral nervous system. This very reason explains the role of cannabinoids in pain modulation, memory processing and motor control.
Cannabis and the CB1 receptors has been found useful for:
- Anxiety and stress;
- Increase in Euphoria and Feelings of Happiness;
- Decrease in Convulsions and Tremors;
- Coping with Chronic Pain.
The CB2 receptors are mainly found on immune cells, white blood cells, in the tonsils and in the spleen.
Cannabis and CB2 receptors have been found to have positive affect for:
- Decreasing Cancer Cells;
- Boosting Immune System;
- Coping with Alzhemier’s disease.
CB1 and CB2 receptors are also has found in the skin, and this explains why topical cannabis applications can have a deep affect on the human body.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that trigger cannabinoid (and other) receptors. More than 100 cannabinoids have been identified in the cannabis They exert their effects by interacting with cannabinoid receptors present on the surface of cells.
Classes of Cannabinoids are: Cannabigerols (CBG), Cannabichromenes (CBC), Cannabidiol (CBD), Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabinol (CBN), Cannabinodiol (CBDL), Other cannabinoids including cannabicyclol (CBL), cannabielsoin (CBE), cannabitriol (CBT), Cannabivarin (CBV), Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), Cannabidivarin (CBDV), Cannabichromevarin (CBCV), Cannabigerovarin (CBGV), Cannabigerol Monoethyl Ether (CBGM).
The most well known among these compounds is the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is another important component, which makes up about 40% of the plant resin extract.
Differences between cannabinoids
The main way in which the cannabinoids are differentiated is based on their degree of psychoactivity.
For example, CBG, CBC and CBD are not known to be psycholgically active agents whereas THC, CBN and CBDL along with some other cannabinoids are known to have varying degrees of psychoactivity.
The most abundant of the cannabinoids is CBD, which is thought to have anti-anxiety effects, possibly counteracting the psychoactive effects of THC.
Given the plethora of research around CBD, there are many discovered benefits. The most common reported being the compound’s calming effects resulting in reduced anxiety. Others report CBD helping regulate sleep patterns, increasing appetite, having anti-tumorous properties and more.
Many professional athletes have been endorsing CBD for it’s ability to help reduce inflammation during injury recovery and help relax muscles after workouts. There are several CBD reviews online about how users of benefited or improved the quality of their lives.
THC may be the central progenitor of recreational cannabis effects, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t also medicinal. In fact, our cultural framing of THC as recreational, arguably reinforced by the growing legal cannabis industry, may have a limiting effect on the way we understand and apply THC medicinally. Whether alone or as part of a whole cannabis product, THC is far from lacking in medicinal value.