Endocannabinoid System: What is It?


The endocannabinoid system is involved in a host of homeostatic and physiologic functions, including modulation of pain and inflammation. As presented by Mike Membrino, the endocannabinoid system comprises the cannabinoid receptors CB1, CB2 and possibly others; the fatty acid derivatives which act as their endogenous ligands; and the proteins responsible for the synthesis, reuptake and degradation of these endogenous ligands.

Other scientists have discovered the function of this system while examining the role of cannabis. In this case, they presented it with Endo which meant endogenous that originates within the body and cannabinoid refers to a group of compounds that activates the system.

Several researchers have looked at the effects of the endocannabinoid system in the sense that is relates to therapeutic potential in most neurodegenerative disorders.

What are Cannabinoids?

Are commonly referred to as the chemical activators of the endocannabinoid system. In this case, there exist endogenous and exogenous types of cannabinoids. The endogenous as mentioned above originated inside the body system. They are also referred to as the endocannabinoids, these compounds are produced naturally by the human body. They interact with cannabinoid receptors to regulate basic functions including mood, memory, appetite, pain, sleep, and many more.

Exogenous, on the other hand, originating outside the body. CBD as found in hemp is considered exogenous. When consumed, it interacts with cannabinoid receptors to produce physical and psychological effects in the body. Mike Membrino, President of Neuro Endoceutical, USA, suggests a significant difference between THC and CBD showing unlike THC, CBD has little or no affinity for CB1 receptors making it a possible choice for neurological treatments. THC is very psychoactive while CBD is a safe option as they have opposite effects on the body.

What are Cannabinoids receptors?

The endocannabinoid system ECS has two main receptors including CB1 and CB2. CB 1 receptors are expressed in both the central nervous system and periphery. They are the most abundant GPCR in the brain, with high expression levels in the basal ganglia nuclei and moderately high expression in the hippocampus, cerebellum and neocortex (Fine, & Rosenfeld, 2013). Additionally, CB1 are found in the entire part of the body but are mostly present in the brain and spinal cord. They are concentrated in brain regions associated with the behaviors they influence.

On the other hand, CB2 is up-regulated in response to inflammatory cues or immune cell activation. They are found in the peripheral nervous system. They are especially concentrated in immune cells. When CB2 receptors are activated, they work to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response which is believed to play a role in many diseases and conditions. More recently, CB2 expression has also been reported to occur in normal brain; in neural progenitors (Fine, & Rosenfeld, 2013).

In a general manner, the distribution of CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body suggest their therapeutic benefits when it comes to the treatment of various neurodegenerative disease.

What are endocannabinoids?

Endocannabinoid are produced naturally inside the body. The major components presented by Mike Membrino include 2-AG and anandamide. 2-AG is found at higher concentrations in the brain, while anandamide is found at higher concentrations in other areas of the body. Both are capable of binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors, but differ in their affinities for these receptors.

When endocannabinoids are released in the body, they are broken down by enzymes knowns as fatty acid amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol lipase.

Functions of Endocannabinoids system

ECS is associated with various function in brain disorders. On the other hand, as presented by Mike Membrino, President of Neuro-Endoceuticals, ECS is involved in regulating various basic functions of the human body. Some of the functions include:

1. Pain management
2. Appetite
3. Mood enhancement
4. Sleep
5. Immune function
6. Inflammatory effects
7. Digestion
8. Cardiovascular function
9. Reproduction
10. Memory and learning
11. Movement
12. Metabolism

Apart from the above-mentioned functions, ECS is involved in treating various mental illnesses. For example, Michael argues that the anandamide and THC are used to lower the blood pressure by triggering the CB1 receptors. In effect, the hypotensive effect is greater in high blood pressure individuals that those with normal blood pressure. This can only suggest that cannabinoids exert stronger effects when a metric is too far from homeostasis. In this case, ECS has high effect on hypertension.

Separately, it is believed that the central objective of CB1 in depression is significantly supported by the effects of traditional antidepressants. Precisely, chronic tricyclic antidepressant treatment increases CB1 density in the hippocampus and hypothalamus, which may mediate the treatment’s therapeutic effects. Increasing anandamide, which enhances activation of CB1 receptors, produces antidepressant-like effects (Smaga, I. et al., 2014). The anti-inflammatory properties of the ECS may also be involved in controlling depression.

There has been anecdotal and preliminary scientific evidence of hemp extract affording symptomatic relief in diverse neurodegenerative disorders. These include multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This evidence implied that hypofunction or dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system may be responsible for some of the symptomatology of these diseases.

For example, characterization of the CB1 and CB2 receptors are closely linked to the mitigating the underlying biological processes of the Alzheimer’s disease. For instance, Anandamide, function through the activation of the CB1, will tend to stamps down neurotoxicity through various mechanisms. Interestingly, in the process where CB1 reduces and CB2 increases in the brain of the Alzheimer’s disease patients, the endocannabinoids may be produced by neurons and glial cells in response to the beta-amyloid deposition in which they will activate the CB1 neuroprotective pathways and regulate inflammation through CB2,

Similarly, because The ECS is involved in numerous neuro-modulator processes. Pre-clinical educations powerfully suggest that The ECS plays a role in neurogenesis, neurodegenerative procedures, as well as in the neural circuits supposed to be compromised in schizophrenia (Desfosses et al., 2010). In humans, increasing confirmation shows that CB1receptor densities are transformed in schizophrenia and that anandamide levels are preeminent, suggesting that the ECS is involved in the pathophysiology of the disorder.

Other studies show that the ECS is involve in the regulation of homeostasis. According to Mike Membrino, President of Neuro-Endiceuticals, most of the diseases are associated with a LACK of homeostasis. Not surprisingly, the ECS tends to regulate, thereby maintaining at bay and naturally treating various diseases.

Endocannabinoid System as a Medicine

CBD has been the been the most common way of targeting the ECS which tends to stimulate the ECS within the body system and provide the therapeutic impacts. Medical marijuana has been presented with various medical benefits from mood enhancement, appetite, and cognitive function. It can also be used in palliative care to increase the quality of care and promote the wellbeing.

Additionally, there are other synthetic cannabinoids that tend to have a high effect on the ECS. For example, Dronabinol is a synthetic version of THC that is mostly used to prescribe cancer and HIV AIDS patients in combating nausea and appetite. CBD, on the other hand, recent studies have claimed the positive contribution of neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory mechanisms of CBD, suggest that it can be used for therapeutic procedures in dealing with various neurological disorders.

Other clinical studies have recognized the physical effect of hemp extract use, for instance, pain relief, appetite promotion, and inflammation. Additionally, little research or few kinds of literature have been initiated on the efficiency and side effects of CBD in humans. However, most researchers are now describing the impacts of CBD for therapeutic interventions in clinical trials.

In conclusion, regardless of the complexity of the ECS, it is clear that it holds a true value for various scientists and medical professionals.

Smaga, I., Bystrowska, B., Gawliński, D., Przegaliński, E., & Filip, M. (2014). The
Endocannabinoid/Endovanilloid System and Depression. Current Neuropharmacology, 12(5), 462–474.

Desfossés, J., Stip, E., Bentaleb, L. A., & Potvin, S. (2010). Endocannabinoids and Schizophrenia. Pharmaceuticals, 3(10), 3101–3126.

Scotter, E. L., Abood, M. E., & Glass, M. (2010). The endocannabinoid system as a target for the treatment of neurodegenerative disease. British Journal of Pharmacology, 160(3), 480–498.

Fine, P. G., & Rosenfeld, M. J. (2013). The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain. Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal, 4(4), e0022.