What is the Endocannabinoid System?Damian Marc
This is old news, but most people, even the ones using cannabis, do not know about the Endocannabinoid System. Briefly speaking, it is a system of numerous cannabinoids that are spread out throughout the body. Through this system, our brain can control cognition, memory, motor coordination, and mood. This is a lot of important tasks for one system, and this means it is important to us. Here, we talk about how it was discovered, what does it do (in detail), and how does it relate to CBD or THC, the two most widespread chemical compounds of the cannabis compound.
To know about the Endocannabinoid System, one needs to know about Cannabinoids:
So, what are cannabinoids? Well, they are the chemical compounds that are usually found in different species of the cannabis plant. They are typically extracted from them to be used for various purposes. The most prevalent cannabinoids are Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While they both are cannabinoids but they are vastly different in their purposes. While both also have therapeutic effects under their belts for the user, one of them, THC, can make the user high. This because it is psychoactive, which means that it can alter the brain in an intoxicating way. CBD, on the other hand, provides the therapeutic effects for the user without ever giving a high. This means CBD is essentially not psychoactive.
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CBD and THC can both be available in the same species of the cannabis plant. It can also be the opposite of this, where one of their concentration can be higher or lower. Whose effect the user will get more depends on which chemical has a higher intensity. One of them can even be absent from one of the species of the cannabis plant. The species that have CBD in higher concentration in the industrial hemp plant. And, the species that has THC in higher concentration is this favorite example of marijuana.
A little history about the discovery of the Endocannabinoid System:
In 1988 scientists were going about their business, when inside a rat’s (the animal model they were testing on) brain they found receptors, that could correctly react with a cannabinoid called Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is THC in other words. In this same research, they found out that these receptors were found the part of the brain that was used for the brain’s tasks like motor coordination, mood, memory, and cognition.
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They found some more receptors, five years later, in 1993. These receptors also reacted to THC in the same way, the first ones that were discovered, essentially did. These were evenly distributed throughout the body’s immune system and also inside the tissues of the body’s external system. Right after two years, the researchers found that these receptors were not only in animals like rats but in other species of mammals too, which also included humans.
This how scientists came to acknowledge the existence of the endocannabinoid system. From them onward, a cannabinoid receptor found in the body was known as an Endocannabinoid. The ones that are found in the different species of cannabis plants came to be known as Phytocannabinoids. The endocannabinoids were themselves separated into different classification, which is now known as CB1 and CB2 receptors, respectively.
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They thought they were onto something big, and they were right, as they found out that there was the whole system of signaling between Phytocannabinoids and Endocannabinoids. They named it The Endocannabinoids System, which is long for ECS.
The Science behind the Endocannabinoid System:
There is the way our brains and body parts communicate with each other to initiate a bodily function. They do this synaptic transmission of our neurons. Once receptors of the giving end of neurons, which is called a synapse along with the receiving end of a neuron, and everything that comes in between. When one of the receptors of the giving end of a neuron receives its required chemical compound, then it releases it neurotransmitter who are then are absorbed the receiving end of the neuron. This receiving end of the neuron releases a positive or negative electrical reaction to either induce or inhibit a bodily process, respectively. While this is a very simplified explanation, the main idea behind this is precise.
But, when the Cannabinoids receptors come into the mix, the process can have a reversal reaction at its disposal. This is because the neurons that can have the endocannabinoid receptors at their disposal can make their cannabinoids, which in turn can act as a dimming knob for the excess production of their neurotransmitters. The neuron itself can make these ‘on demand’ chemicals.
What this does is that one neuron can limit the onslaught production of the neurotransmitter transmission, if it gets out of hands. E.g., it can inhibit the excessive production of dopamine. This way a neuron can control how the brain sends and receives a message.
So, how does CBD does its work on the endocannabinoid system?
It directly does not affect the CB1 (found in things like hypothalamus and amygdala) and CB2 receptors (found in things like spleen and tonsils). CB1 and CB2, both do not have the affinity for CBD, even though it is a cannabinoid. CB1 and CB2 receptors are what that make up the Endocannabinoid System. CB1 and CB2 usually are affected by endogenous cannabinoid or an Endocannabinoid like anandamide and various others like it. It directly affects the Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH). These are known to be related to the inhibition of endogenous cannabinoids like anandamide. But CBD has known to inhibit the FAAH itself, and therefore, helps the production of the endogenous cannabinoid-like anandamide. This, in turn, helps the endocannabinoid system and the neurons inside control the functions of the body that are related to the system. This control essentially helps produce effects like pain relief, better memory and cognition, inflammations control, and relief from the symptoms of different ailments. This is why CBD can do a lot for your body.
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